Reverse Snobbery

Everybody knows what a snob is. The first image that comes to mind is some well-to-do, hoity-toity girl that thinks she and everything she likes is better than the common plebeian simply because it’s fancy and expensive.Β But what about the flip side of the coin?

What about the people who are super, um… frugal, who think that they’re better than people who spend lots of money simply because they don’t spend as much money? The internet has dubbed it reverse snobbery and, from what I see at least, it seems even more rampant than snobbery of the traditional variety. Examples, you demand? No problem.

  • The girl who says she would never spend 5k on a custom saddle because her $250 ancient PDN is just fine, and anyone who spends that much on a saddle should learn how to ride instead.
  • The girl who says she only buys $40 breeches (and only has two pairs of them at that) because she’s a real rider, and real riders care more about their skills than they do about what they’re wearing.
  • The girl who says that anyone who pays $25k for a beginner novice horse is stupid, period, end of story.

All 3 of which I’ve seen within the past month.

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Look, I’m horse poor. I get it. I can pinch a pinny so hard it’ll give Lincoln a black eye. And I will flat out tell you that of course I’m envious of people who have the means to go to every horse show, buy new saddles all the time, go to Europe and buy a new horse every couple years, etc. But it’s their money, and they can do whatever they want with it. If I think I’m somehow better than them because I try to do the same things with less resources, that’s still snobby, just of a different variety. I’ve been guilty of it plenty of times in my life, but really I should be thanking these people for helping keep this industry afloat because lord knows my broke ass ain’t.

It’s an even more ridiculous viewpoint to take when you look at the fact that we’re all equestrians. We’re all involved in an elite sport that features walking money pits. To think that you are somehow better or more authentic than someone else simply because you spend less money on your particular walking money pit is a hilarious joke.

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There are a million roads people can take in this sport, some of which are lined with a lot more dollar bills than others. It’s easy to look at the person on the fancy horse that they dropped a shit ton of money on and be resentful of that, but honestly… if I had that kind of $$$, I would spend it the same way. And you better believe that if somebody turned me loose in Luxe EQ with a big bucket of money, I would be the proud new owner of approximately 100 pairs of expensive new breeches in about 5 seconds flat. To try to pretend differently would be absurd.

The fact that someone has less or has more doesn’t make them better or worse, it makes them different. The fact that someone likes something different from you doesn’t make them better or worse, it makes them different (ok maybe it makes them different with a wrong opinion… πŸ˜‰ jk…). The fact that someone chooses to spend their money differently than you doesn’t make them better or worse either. At the end of the day, as long as everyone is having fun and treats their horses well, who the hell cares how much or how little money they’re spending?

This sport is hard enough as it is… maybe we’d all be a little better off if we accepted that just because a path isn’t ours, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly valid? What are your thoughts on reverse snobbery?

 

44 thoughts on “Reverse Snobbery

  1. I think it can be detrimental if it goes too far (not that normal snobbery can’t, obviously). I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve never bought a full price bridle, so I get that feeling. But the ones that are actually financially incapable of taking care of their horses correctly (oh well that saddle fit every other horse, oh that doesn’t need stitches, oh I’ll just eat ramen and do a go-fund-me for that emergency bill) but somehow think they’re better because they ~sacrifice~ so much and don’t waste like those people who actually like to buy clothes and drive cars built in this century – those people make me sad.

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  2. Preach it girl!! Living in hunterland I see plenty of “the 1%” and I would go to every horse show and have a string of horses if I could, so no judge coming from me! I like a bargain ad much as the next girl, but that’s only because I have to penny pinch, and do not look down on those that pay full price. Like you said, it’s what keeps the industry afloat after all πŸ˜‰

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  3. Hahaha. Especially when I hear the one about the saddle, I just mentally pat them on the head and say “there, there” a la Sheldon.
    Because the only reason you make that argument is if you haven’t sat in a good saddle and that’s very sad for you.

    Nice things cost more for a reason, hence actually selling my soul for the right saddle. I can certainly get along without having the nicest things and I make do within my income bracket. Helps that my favorite time-filler is bargain hunting.

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  4. “At the end of the day, as long as everyone is having fun and treats their horses well, who the hell cares how much or how little money they’re spending?”

    This. So much this.

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  5. OMG. This. So much this. I have an acquaintance who is the WORST about reverse snobbery. I wouldn’t even call her an equestrian. She mostly has horses to say she has them. She might ride one once or twice a month. Don’t get me started on her horsemanship. I mean, they eat, but they get cow hay and pasture turnout on pretty crappy pasture. Yet she brags about her tack room full of 25 saddles that combined cost about as much as my stirrup leathers and girth. In my experience the humble brag is often prevalent with the reverse snobs.
    I’m with you, if I had the resources I would definitely spend more on nice stuff. I truly believe that quality equipment, care and a nice animal make a difference in how well one rides. However I don’t think that I would ever get a new saddle for the fun of it or have more horses than I could really enjoy and ride myself. My ultimate dream would be to have the means to be an owner for someone like Beezie Madden or McLain Ward or Kent Farrington. I would love to support an amazingly talented rider that didn’t necessarily have the means themselves to own a top quality animal.

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  6. Lol basically I feel like literally everyone other than me is out of their freakin mind. My value propositions for what seems “worth the money” and what does not make so much sense to me. Really, if everyone would just listen to me and follow my example and believe as I do, life would be so much easier.

    Maybe a little boring tho. Maybe. πŸ˜‰

    (Or like. Maybe we {absolutely including myself here} could all just focus on doing the things that make us individually happy, and justifying or rationalizing the expenses thereof as we see fit, without this constant need to compare and explain our own choices experiences or whatever to everyone else. Something that seems to be becoming increasingly difficult in lifestyles thrust into the public eye of social platforms.)

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  7. It’s all about the social totem pole – some people are very driven to get on the top of it, so they figure out ways to make themselves better than the next person. Also stems from insecurity – they feel “threatened”, and are concerned with what others think of them, so they have to have that disclaimer tacked to their name, ex. “Oh there’s low means rider, she doesn’t have a lot, and look how great she is despite that!”, or “Oh there’s low means rider, she’s not the best, but it’s because she doesn’t have the latest and greatest horse/equipment, so we should acknowledge how great she is despite it.” Probably unwillingly going for the later, rather than the former.

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  8. Amen. It’s exhausting to constantly evaluate and judge others’ decisions, anyway…where do people find the time and energy to worry so much about other people?? I’m over here just trying to figure out how I’m going to sneak away to take a shit without my toddler noticing.

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  9. I completely concur with this. I’ve known many people that penny pinch to an extreme that they won’t get something that benefits them/the horse and they need it. I’m a little in between I suppose? I like nice things (well, don’t we all) but I don’t have the money for it all. Just like you said if I win the lottery or someone gave me a huuuuge wad of cash I’d be finding horse property, buying a horse, taking lessons and all that so fast you couldn’t even say hopscotch. But, I will buy what I think is “worth it”. I will pay for very good quality leather products because those freaking keep you on the horse and they LAST, especially if you take care of them. Saddle pads who cares. Half pads if they make a difference, get the one that works no matter how much. All-around boots who cares. Girths whatever works. Horse clothes for me I’m a little more particular, so I’ll spend the money on something I like. Clothes for work – they’re pretty much ALL from Walmart or Target. Even shoes. Money saver right there.
    It’s also difficult because I have “expensive tastes”. I used to care, but I don’t anymore. If I want it, and it’s exactly what I’m looking for, it’s coming home with me, whether it’s now or in 6 months on a sale. If it brings me joy, it was worth the $$$. I had people raising eyebrows at me when I bought my custom saddle because there’s “so many for cheap”, but they were all so…ugly. If I’m spending money on it, I have to really like it. Sorry, not sorry.
    So I totally know about the snobbery and reverse snobbery but I think it’s inevitable. I feel the same way you do though – you treat your horse well, you love your stuff, that’s what’s most important.

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  10. There is that saying “Never judge a rider by their circumstance. This goes both ways.” And I think as equestrians that’s really important to remember.

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  11. I am absolutely in the “mind your own business” camp (unless there is an obvious safety concern). I’ve most definitely been subjected to reverse snobbery. In the past it’s made me uncomfortable to the point where I’ve tried to hide when I purchase something new. Ridiculous.

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  12. I will never understand why people are so concerned about how other people spend money. If the result is neglect or abuse, speak up. If not, who cares.

    (Unless the money is taxes. I would very much like to tell the government exactly how to spend the 1/4 of my paycheck they take every month.)

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    1. That’s actually not what the post is about at all, I invite you to read for comprehension at your earliest convenience. Or perhaps perusing the many well-written comments above will help shed some light on the intended subject matter and why I thought it was worth discussing?

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  13. I’m with you on this one. It happens more since I’m at a casual, pleasure focused barn. If I want to invest in higher end tack (not actually high end because 1% I ain’t), let me do it without making snide comments about being the resident DQ. If I want to splurge on a matching saddle pad/browband set because I think the sparkles will make my sitting trot sets suck less, then I’m going to to do that.

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  14. This is so true and though I don’t even want to open this can of worms this subject completely transistions over to “breed” snobbery as well. those who bitch because someone has a string of wb’s or the other person who wants to vomit at another’s back yard Hines 57. Why can’t we all appreciate a good horse that does it’s job efficiently no matter the breed? I think at some point or another we call become victim to snobbery of both times in all areas. It’s a shame

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  15. I feel like a lot of this stems from the perception that people who spend lots of money on their horses are somehow worse horsemen than the ones that come from little. There’s the prevailing stereotype of the rich girl who comes to the barn, hops on her already groomed and tacked horse, rides in a 30 minute lesson with the trainer, and then heads home, leaving the groom to finish taking care of her animal. While I’m sure this is true in some situations, I don’t think it’s fair to paint all people who come from the same financial situation with that same brush. I am happy to judge someone based on the quality of their horsemanship and care/appreciation of their animal, but that does not necessarily coincide with the amount of money they have.

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  16. Why can’t people just mind their own business? I don’t care how much your horse, tack, barn, trailer, whatever costs. It is all about how you use them. Riding terribly and cruelly in a custom $6,000 saddle is way worse than riding well and consistently in a $300 knock off. Same is true the other way. Most people are honestly just jealous. Yeah, my horse cost me $800, my saddle was $1000 and I pull a 2 horse bumper pull trailer, but if I had the money?? I’d be in a $6,000 french leather custom saddle, driving my LQ horse trailer around and riding a $15,000 amateur friendly horse already trained to a level above the one I am competing. My life just isn’t there. Kuddos for those who have made the choices or were lucky enough to be born into a family who made the choices to get them to that point. Don’t mind me drowning in student loan debt and wearing my synthetic $68 tall boots.

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  17. I so agree with being happy that others who can are keeping the pro trainers housed and fed, because I am not !!! LOL If the professional trainers had to depend on me to eat, there wouldn’t be any pro trainers. AACK

    If I had it to spend, it would be like when I turn the wash stall hose onto “all the water this thing can pump per tenth of a second”. I would have fancy horses, rescue horses, pet horses, and horses for guest that might come ride with me once a year or so … and all of those horses would have the exact kind of everything they might possibly need someday. Oh, and, so would I. πŸ˜€

    And lots of professional training (now done by self). And I would have some expensive horses under certain select pro riders to help them get to that 4* in Kentucky. All bills paid by me. πŸ˜€

    Yep, I already have a plan in case I win the lottery, the big one, all by myself. Guess I should buy a lottery ticket …

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  18. Great topic! Also, in dressage I hear a lot of “Well, she bought her medals. She didn’t earn them by training her own horse.” …. Like why is that comment needed? You still have to be able to RIDE THE DAMN TEST no matter who trained the horse for you. It’s like some people try to devalue other people’s accomplishments because of how they got there. It’s so discouraging. As long as you are enjoying your horse (and not abusing it), then I am happy for ya! Keep doing what ya do.

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  19. Love this! I see reverse snobbery so often! I also HATE when people assume that expensive horses are easy horses! A horse can be expensive because it’s talented, but not necessarily a seeing eye dog. When I first bought one of my jumpers, a friend said something along the lines of “omg, I’m so jealous, she just sees all the distances herself, you just sit there…” HA HA! Nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, the mare was super talented and amazing, but she needed you to RIDE to the jumps and required a pretty specific ride at that. It made me so mad the she just assumed that my horse was easy just because she was a high quality import.

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  20. Lol seriously though, I was very proud of how much I “saved” on all of my cheap stuff and how much of it I had. πŸ™„ Now I have tons of “junk” that I just need to donate. I have millions of breeches, saddle pads, etc and they just take up space as I only rotate through 2 or 3 nice ones πŸ™„
    I do still like my PDN saddle…but ONLY because it’s the only saddle that fits Stormie’s extremely flat back. πŸ™„

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  21. “just because a path isn’t ours, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly valid” That statement right there applies to every aspect of life in general and the world is in a lot of hurt because too few people have an understanding of it. But empathy is a tricky thing with many contributing factors – what may come naturally to some can be a complicated thing for others who lack emotional regulation role models growing up. Great topic!

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  22. I’m too preoccupied with trying not to puke at horse shows that I don’t really pay attention to others tack or clothing. Well except when its someone who can pull off white breeches-then I get tan breeches only on this booty snobby envious of them

    So I don’t really get why people care.

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  23. I feel like it’s none of my business what anyone spends on anything, and honestly I really just don’t care. Ultimately, I’m the one riding in my saddle, wearing the breeches, using my brushes. And actually I hate that this attitude is so prevalent in our society in general! What is with all the shaming and judging of others?! I don’t understand (nor do I care to) why people feel justified in it. I’m the one that has to drive my car, eat the food I buy, wear the clothes I purchased, etc etc etc. There is so much finger pointing and shaming these days, everywhere you look (or read, or listen), people who don’t agree with whatever choice you’ve made, idea or opinion you’ve expressed, or clothes you’re wearing love to point their fingers and condemn you for those choices. Don’t share the same political opinion? SHAME! Don’t share the same horse keeping methtods? SHAME! Don’t buy all-natural everything? SHAME! Gah! It’s crazy to me, especially when related to the horse world. We are already harshly judged for our “first world hobby,” why not heap some more judgement on, point fingers at each other? I’m right there with ya on penny pinching, and hell yes I’d love to own (and properly outfit) a $50K schoolmaster! But, when it comes down to it, I’m happy right where I am, doing what I’m doing, and living how I live. I hope others can shut out all the negativity and just LIVE. πŸ’œ

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  24. I feel like both impulses come from a good place. People who fall into the trap of reverse snobbery are really committed to a kind of minimalism: making sure the tools they have are few and work for them. Trying to improve their baseline horsemanship before buying something new. People who fall into the trap of snobbery are trying their hardest to provide high quality things for their horses and to buy the precise right tool for the right job. Both are laudable goals but it’s the people who go too far into the deep end on either one and proceed to judge everyone who’s not following their path are obnoxious.

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  25. Loving the comment thread here- I definitely see both sides of the coin at every show. I once had some give me shade for getting full grooming at shows. But I like that. So whatevs. You do you and I’ll do me and we both are idiots for throwing money at horses, just idiots of different degrees and different ways.

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  26. I can always justify being spendy on something I consider a “tool” even though the budget is super tight these days. Well made things often tend to cost more, but last longer, therefore over time your expenditure evens out – theoretically. Reverse snobbery seems rooted in jealousy to me, and jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own as they say. ;D

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  27. Thanks for this post, I’ve never thought about it from quite this perspective before and it’s certainly an interesting topic.

    I have certainly seen extreme cases of reverse snobbery and I agree that it is obnoxious. But more subtle cases are tougher because I really see the reasons behind the thoughts. For example, at the show this weekend I was sharing a tack stall with a retired lady who was competing at Prix St. George with her imported schoolmaster. I was really impressed with her horsemanship, was cheering her on for her rides, and was thinking that I would love to do the same as her when I’m that age if I had enough money. But, at the show, I also felt proud of myself that two years ago I saw something in my no-name grade mare and now she was scoring 7.5 for gaits. Is that last part reverse snobbery because I’m glad I found a diamond in the rough instead of paying for a polished diamond? Maybe. But at the same time, I think pride in developing special skills to get by with less resources is at least somewhat justified, being proud just because of a low dollar value is not. Above all though, just don’t be a jerk about things.

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  28. Love this article. There are definitely times where I won’t mention money spent for any of my hobbies because some of the people mentioned in your article would lose their mind. On the flip side, I really do watch my expenses because I don’t have a money tree in my backyard. But like you, with unlimited funds, I’d be setting my eyes on all the things. No doubt about it.
    I won’t judge you for spending or not spending but I will drop you down a black hole if you start judging me for it. People need to tend their own gardens.

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  29. Yep, all of this. Agree with you 100%!
    My one horse is on full training board, so when I ride him he gets taken care of. There aren’t other options for me with him because I have three at home and a full time job, and sadly, days are still only 24 hours long. But I get a lot of those, oh it must be nice comments. Yep, it IS nice.
    I think most of that reverse snobbery just comes out of resentment like you say. And I definitely felt it as a junior when so many other kids had multiple rides on well made horses, and I was plugging along on my mostly self made appendix horse. But as a (somewhat) mature adult, I’m able to say good for those others with all of that. Maybe one day I’ll be one of them too. (Like if I stopped buying boots when I’m sad maybe?)

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