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Bling. Bling? Bling!

In the Beginning...

It all started out so innocently. All I needed was a new set of boots for Cowboy. This should have been simple. Check Sharon's Barrel Racing Superstore online... if not available there, go to my favorite local tack store... find the right size... buy the boots... slap them on Cowboy and be done with it. Isn't that how it';s done? (Of course not or this would be a very short column!)

Unknown to me, I was about to learn more than I ever wanted to know about the subtleties of selecting the proper accoutrements for my horse. So into the local tack store I venture. And the next thing I know, I am surrounded by two very helpful and very knowledgeable sales associates AND two random customers who just happened to wander by!

The first issue was to determine exactly what I was seeking, agreeing on the brand and size. This part was easy. Although there are several fine products available and my four "counselors" did have varying opinions... I was able to assert my own wishes by pointing out that I knew from experience that a size medium in one particular brand fit Cowboy perfectly. The fact that I had selected the most expensive of the choices seemed to allow this aspect of the negotiating process to come to a rapid conclusion.

It was at this point that things got interesting. It seems that I was about to create a scandal of gargantuan proportions by selecting the WRONG color! Cowboy Up To The Bar is a stunning Paint. A Tri-Color Bay Overo. Just enough white to get your attention set off perfectly with his pitch-black mane and tail. Personally, I think he looks handsome in just about any color so I thought it would be fun to get a pair of electric blue boots. As I reached for said bright blue boots, all manner of commotion broke loose!

One opinion was that Cowboy would look too feminine in bright blue boots. Another held that they would detract from his natural good looks. The next thing I know, there are six people offering opinions! (Two additional riders overheard the conversation and wandered over to join the fray.)

Then I made my second mistake... I opined that maybe a brown and white giraffe print would look nice... NOPE... "much too trendy." That led to zebra print (too flashy), dark green (too ordinary), crimson red (might clash with Cowboy's bay color), simple white (gets too dirty and looks too "English"). I proceeded to "take-a-step-back" and let everyone else argue to a conclusion... and argue they did. By this time it was obvious that my decision had been co-opted by the crowd. So I took my own definitive course of action... I put off the decision, left the store, and went to the barn to ride Cowboy and discuss the issue with him!

The bottom line was that I still had not replaced Cowboy's old, worn boots and he deserved to have a nice new pair for our next competition. (Much to my chagrin, Cowboy didn't seem to be all that concerned about the color of his boots.)

The Saga Continues...

Our saga continues a short time later with The Lovely Lady Linda and I attending our local mega-horse exposition with clinics, demonstrations, plenty of vendors and, you guessed it, more advice. It was long past time to make a decision. There were deals to be had on all sorts of tack and Cowboy's set of boots was just about ready to fall apart. The Lovely Lady Linda pointed out that a nice set of black boots would match Cowboy's mane and tail and would be the classy, if boring, choice. So the black boots it was and at a very attractive discount! Little did I know that black shows EVERY speck of dirt! That said, when brushed clean, they look really sharp and add nicely to Cowboy's very distinctive and attractive natural color scheme.

With the decision finally made and black boots in-hand, I began to feel a bit "cheated." Here we were surrounded by aisles and aisles of vendors offering every conceivable make, model, style, and color of equine related product. From the sublime to the ridiculous... it was all there for the buying! And all I had to show was a plain pair of simple black boots! It just wasn't right!

Armed with the determination to find some way to add some pizzazz to Cowboy... The Lovely Lady Linda and I embarked on a quest! As we wandered the aisles, we suddenly realized that what we really needed was some "BLING!"

In the equestrian world that is 85% female, a guy needs to be a little more circumspect in his choice of "flamboyance." The Lovely Lady Linda adorns The Mare Monster (a regal, black, rubicano, mustang mare) with rich purple and diamond crystal bling and it looks stunning! So it was a good thing that serendipity reared its amused head!

You see, I was proudly wearing one of Sharon's team shirts. Crisp, starched, and covered with Sharon's logos. It was extremely satisfying to note the number of people who said hello and sent their good wishes on to Sharon. So I wasn't all that surprised when a vendor stopped us and mentioned that her brother-in-law worked for Sharon. And with that bit of fortuitousness, we found our BLING!

Most mane, tail or hair extensions are designed to blend in with the horse (or person) and make said mane, tail, or hair look fuller, longer, or both. This product did exactly the opposite. Imagine fine strands of iridescent metallic thread, designed to slip under a mane or into a tail and just show through enough to add some electric BLING... subtle, but noticeable. It took mere moments for me to decide that HERE was how we were going to add some electric blue to Cowboy's mane... and boy did it work.

At our next competition, no one remembered the debate over the color of Cowboy's boots! Many people didn't even notice the bright color in Cowboy's mane until we started running. Then it sparkled in the sunlight and added just the right amount of BLING. Enough to get noticed, but not enough to overpower Cowboy's natural color... his natural BLING. The only problem was explaining to people WHY I chose to put electric blue bling in my horse's mane!