“Oh, Katie,” my friend remarked in a seductive tone. “What is this?”
I felt my face flush. We were 14, and hanging out in my bedroom. She was referring to my show halter, lead rope and riding crop that I had hung from my bedpost while unpacking from my last event.
My other friend grabbed the crop and started waving it around, giggling: “Who’s the lucky man getting all tied up?”
It was all in good fun and illustrated exactly how naïve I was. I thought they looked kind of pretty hanging there, but on closer inspection, all that leather did look pretty “Fifty Shades of Grey” when in that proximity to my bed. A few years later, in my first apartment, I hung an antique snaffle bit from that same bedpost, again thinking it looked cute. A small-wristed friend teasingly mistook them for handcuffs. Sigh.
[Decorating tip: blend your horsey items, like this brass horse head hook and hunting horn, with other quirky items like this vintage beaded purse and silk scarf.]
Equestrian decor, while terribly trendy, can look either childlike or weirdly fetish if done wrong. Over the years, I’d collected a variety of decorative bits of tack, itty bitty horse knick-knacks, a rocking horse, and horsey coffee table books. When I moved into the city, my saddle also started hanging out on the back on my couch.
I struggled to make all these items blend in – until a rather inspiring multi-hour conversation with Alli Addison, a horse-crazy interior designer. Her enthusiasm for spattering her own home with everything equine changed my viewpoint on how I should be displaying my treasures.
[How many horses can you see? The porcelain figurine and bookend were thrift finds, and I scrounged up the tin box from a flea market in Madrid. Book shelves are a great place to display pony knick-knacks.]
Soon after, my somewhat nomadic and unpredictable young-adult life led me to move into a bedroom in my friend’s house. Going from a whole apartment to myself to a little bedroom meant squashing all my “art” (read: junk) together. As I was unpacking, I found my collection of toy plastic horses tucked into a box. I couldn’t bear to part with them, but I also never thought of displaying them, lest they scare away potential boyfriends who took me for an overgrown child.
I held my favorite one, a galloping paint with adorably dainty legs, and looked around the room. My eyes landed on the door frames, which were over-sized and shelf-like. Perfect. I hung bits and spurs from the wall and nestled a pair of cowboy boots and a plant into my saddle. With all my grown-up troubles, the room turned into a cozy, nostalgic horse haven.
Overgrown horse girl? You betcha. I’m owning it.