The Brown Rider: 25 Questions

1. What does Brown Rider even mean?
Ever since I was a kid my favorite horse colors were sorrel and chestnut, preferably with some chrome. For years now, and by sheer coincidence, it seems every horse I ride happens to be a sorrel or chestnut, so I quite literally became a "brown rider," a rider of brown horses. Oh, and my favorite color? Something brownish. My closet? A lot of shades of brown. My show wardrobe? Given my horse colors, definitely leans toward brown. I have a lot of brown going on.

2. What is the big deal about brown?
I come from a graphic design background, so I'm no stranger to color. Despite millions of choices, I personally gravitate to earthy colors, and browns in particular; everything from dark chocolate to caramel, tobacco, Havana, buckskin, camel, cognac, whiskey, peanut brittle, rust - it's all good with me! I think anyone who says brown is boring doesn't see all the variations and nuances.

Hey, brown is where the cool kids are.

3. Speaking of hanging out, which equine websites are high in your book?
My favorites change from time to time depending on what I'm interested in at the moment. I am currently loving Noelle Floyd, Horse & Style Magazine, Stable Style, plus the old, gold, standards like Chronicle of the Horse - the forums are like a Wiki for horse people! On a less-horsey note, True West Magazine and Cowboys & Indians are always a great read, plus their artwork and images are top drawer.

4. What made you want to blog... about brown?
Well, it's not so much about brown, though brown is my favorite, but about my hobbies and pursuits as a brown rider. I'm a middle-aged non-pro rider with a bad tack habit and endless DIY projects, so I think my tribe - my base - is actually pretty expansive, but maybe not very visible... yet. On the other hand, maybe it's just a way to chronicle what I've accomplished before I become so senile I can't remember.

5. How does someone know if they have a "bad" tack habit?
I don't think there really is such a thing, but when you need to dedicate a room or a building to your tack hobby, you're probably well on your way to "having a condition." Some people build ships in a bottle, some restore old cars, some paint old furniture with white chalk paint - I rescue and refab old tack. I joke my house is where old Crosbys and Stubbens go to die retire.

6. Favorite social media sites?
To be honest, I made a decision to spend less time on social media and more time living a real life and pursuing hands-on hobbies. True, I hit Facebook every day as part of the job, maybe do a drive-by at some for sale groups, but I try to duck out before I get bogged down in the newsfeeds featuring the latest public outrage, all the shitty grammar and spelling, needless snotty comments, or the endless pseudo science/conspiracy theory bullshit. I'd rather invest in a real life and surround myself with interesting things and positive people, KWIM?

Pinterest is eye candy, so I do indulge there, much like curling up with a good book. Instagram is eye candy too, but everything has become so pointedly about branding and making a sale I grow weary and tend to rabbit.

7. Whoa, do you always swear like that?
Every damned day.

8. Day job?
Technically, I guess I'm a "creative." I work in the equine graphics, design and social media industry. (Quelle surprise.) When I say I made a decision to spend less time on social media, it's because I already get a healthy dose of it every day from a business perspective.

9. Are you interested in computers then?
Not at all. Computers are just a tool to do my job, like taking the bus to work. I can hook up monitors, printers, and ethernet cables, but not much else. If it requires I open the case for a hardware issue, I'm out of luck. I know, I totally fail at Computer Nerd 101.

10. How can you do what you do if you don't know anything about computers?
I can write code at the speed of light and make smoke pour out of Photoshop all day long. I know my way around the internet like a cat burglar, and am adept at learning programs and processes. Fortunately, none of that requires I know any more about computers than installing software. Weird, huh?

11. Speaking of coding, did you code this blog?
Actually, I was looking at blog templates because I didn't have time to sit down and code the blog from soup to nuts. Could I? Yes. Did I want to? No. Anyway, I picked a template that had most of the features I wanted, then proceeded to make a bunch of mods. Big time saver. Starting from zero would have been too time consuming, and I probably never would have got around to it. At the time, it seemed more important to have something ready to go live that I could tweak later, and it was nice to support another designer in the community. I suspect the template will continue to evolve as I have time or is necessary.

12. Since computer tech support is off the table, let's talk about design. What's your favorite design style?
I'm a huge fan of Bauhaus and the 40s, but I also like Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau and all that gilt, scrolly and cluttery stuff. I love vintage equestrian, Ralph Lauren, cowboy kitsch and the like. I would say design-wise I'm pretty schizophrenic. Ultimately, I know what I like when I see it, and if I don't like it, I never will. Like, I would use candles rather than have a lamp I thought was ugly. I'm really weird like that.

13. Besides computers, which technological gadgets do you use every day?
Oddly, I use my smart phone almost exclusively as a phone, except I do take a lot of photos with it and use the GPS features, generally when I'm working a Craigslist deal. I only text when necessary, so I'm not one of those people you see glued to their phone in public. I stream music, listen to podcasts and Old Time Radio suspense/mystery shows on my iPad all day as background noise. Sometimes I binge on YouTube on my iPad, but it's easier to have music on because it's less distracting while I work.

14. How is The Brown Rider blog different?
I suppose from a DIY perspective there aren't a whole lot of people who detail their weirdo tack refabbing projects, but that seems to take a fair amount of my time in addition to my other DIY endeavors, so in that respect my subject matter might be more unique than other horsey blogs. Maybe add some haphazard sew-alongs and low budget equestrian hacks, and I consider this outside the standard fare. I've never been one to color inside the lines anyway.

15. What do you want to say with The Brown Rider?
I'd like to show how easily a lot of discarded things can be refabbed and made cool again, share some of my hobby projects, my cheapie hacks and DIYs, and maybe inspire other horse peeps to take the plunge and try it themselves. We've become such a disposable society, I think things have become unfairly devalued, and so many things are worth a second look, a second chance. There's something really satisfying, for me at least, to take an unloved object and make it fabu again. On this blog, I can show people how I did it.

16. Anything you'll avoid on The Brown Rider?
Hopefully, I'll avoid creepy people. Fact is, I have grown tired of the snotty experts on some of the forums I frequent, including Facebook, and the uncalled-for rudeness in response to even the most innocuous subjects. If someone is so inclined to flame or pontificate, they're gonna be outta here like shit through a goose. I want to keep this a happy place, if only for myself.

That said, I avoid chalk paint, stenciled French words, 1,001 uses for baking soda, calendars to organize your house, meaty recipes, and things I've seen at a million other blogs. If those things make another blogger and their readers happy, that's awesome, but it's been done every which way, probably better than I, and not really the place I'm coming from.

The place I come from smells like leather and lemongrass, is cluttered enough to feel Victorian-bordering-hoarder, a miter saw in the kitchen and store-bought burritos in the freezer.

17. Horse background?
I've had horses since forever, when my grandmother bought me my first horse. I started in 4-H like so many, then to open and breed shows, on and off, over the years. Western, English, cowhorse, saddle seat, pleasure, trail - I've ridden the gamut. Seems no matter what goes on in life, whatever people come and go, I always come back to horses.

I come from a time when my friends and I used to babysit and clean stalls and mow lawns to buy a show headstall or romal reins. All those wonderful show moms used to make our custom chaps and double knit polyester equitation suits. The show grounds were blanketed in two horse straight load trailers.

Back then, friends were always hauling with other friends, and the "cool ones" had campers we'd spend the night in. In fact, I remember a girlfriend and I sleeping on the floor in the front tack compartment of her super deluxe 2-horse straight load Miley, because hers was one of the few that actually had a separate tack compartment up front. At the time, we thought it was the next best thing to a tree fort. We didn't realize we were roughing it, by today's standards. I don't know how we always woke up in time for showmanship after freezing all night, but we did. Chalk it up to the durability of youth.

Asking our parents for a new Harris or shopping for a Lindsey James horsemanship shirt wasn't even a "thing" back then. I mean, I think my parents bought their first house for something under $20,000. That's a custom western saddle, maybe your headstall, chaps and a bejewelled jacket nowadays, not to mention the other "must-have" big ticket items. Moneywise, it's become insane.

18. You say you have a tack habit, so what are your favorite things?
I'm into retro stuff, bigtime. All that old buckstitched stuff, berry style silver, Tex Tan, Bona Allen, Simco, Crosby, Stubben - I dig it the most. I like oddball and obscure stuff, not necessarily valuable.

When it comes to old production stuff, vintage show stuff, I pored over those old catalogs and magazine ads as a kid, so I can identify those critters like a walking encyclopedia. I'd win tack Jeopardy every time. "I'll take vintage Tex Tan for $500, Alex." Chalk that up as useless talent number 39. It's not something that goes on a resume, but it comes in handy when I'm bargain hunting.

19. Full blown Harris or old Tex Tan double row buckstitched saddle in primo condition, which do you pick?
The Tex Tan, depending on which model it was. The way I see it, all it takes is money to buy a custom Harris, but the old Tex Tan is rare, sort of a unicorn, and there are only so many out there left to be found in near-perfect condition. That's not to say the Harris isn't positively exquisite - it is - but the right buckstitched Tex Tan would make me giddy.

20. New CWD or Crosby Mark VI?
That's easy! I'd take the CWD, sell it, and buy a herd of old Crosbys. There's still some nice Crosbys out there if you look. I happen to like the old Mark VI and Equilibriums. CWDs are exquisite saddles, lots of everything going on, but I gravitate toward simpler/stripped down/less saddle.

21. Describe your dream horse!
That's a tough one, but I would say a big mover with a lot of swagger. That could be anything from a good-looking, tough-as-nails cowhorse or a Saddlebred that breathes fire and moves like a locomotive. I'm really not a breed snob, so either of those would work for me, and a sorrel or chestnut with some white would be icing on the cake.

22. Okay, now describe your horse!
Oh, that's the funniest part... After being fortunate enough to have a couple of "dream horses" in my lifetime, the horse I have now (Sparkle) has zero swagger, is mentally a bit fragile, not bold, not especially bright, but pretty and very sweet. Added pluses are her dark red color, she's tidy in her stall and has great manners.

It's funny, because my mom originally bought the horse for herself, and it was not a good fit at all. I found my mom her own dream horse, so Sparkle wound up with me, and we get along just swell. Could I dump Sparkle and look for a higher caliber horse, something closer to my dream horse? I suppose, but I really don't care. I'm from the "run what you brung" school. At this point of my life, it's about having fun, horse shows need to be fun, and I can have fun with Sparkle. She's a good soldier, she's family, so she stays.

23. What other pets do you have?
I'm a guppy rancher - I raise show guppies! I also have a geriatric banty chicken and a small, obnoxious, fast-as-lightning Jack Russell Terrier/Italian Greyhound mix no one else can stand. Weird, it's like all my pets are tiny. I don't think I planned it that way, but that's how it wound up. I guess I live in the land of micropets.

24. Coffee or tea?
Both, absolutely! I drink coffee and orange pekoe tea black, but sometimes add lemon and natural sugar to my tea. If I hit up Starbuck's, it's always a hazelnut latte with whipped. I wait every year for the Starbuck's pumpkin flavored lattes. I never get tired of those.

25. Pop question: Least favorite color?
Oh, that's easy: Blue! Hate it! Despise it! Easily, "Country Blue" is the worst. Although... PS of Sweden's Aruba Blue and True Blue may have changed my mind about blue. I like blue in nature, like peacocks or a midnight blue starlit sky. Artists like Vincent van Gogh used blue beautifully. Oh, and blue ribbons are always nice!

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