Letting go of the past

I sold this saddle on ebay for $200! Woo hoo! I have finally broken the whammy and put a dent in the formidable $5000 goal I’ve set for myself this year when I answered Non Consumer Girl’s clutter into cash challenge. She’s decluttering and aims to raise $5000 this year. I joined her because I thought the cash would be an added incentive for me to really go through my possessions and get rid of some things I no longer use or need.

But I’ve written previously about my ambivalence towards decluttering, especially my problem with giving up items that have sentimental value to me. And boy this saddle was loaded with memories. Giving it up was like ripping out a piece of my girlhood.

I’m taking a risk here in admitting that yes, I did have a horse when I was a girl. Certain of my friends are very envious of that fact. But I was not a little princess who was given everything she wanted. I was a horse-freak, read every Marguerite Henry book she wrote, drew horses everywhere and on everything. And at the age of 5, I started saving every penny that ever came to me – allowance, checks from my grandparents, everything – and put it in a savings account. Between the ages of 5 and 10, I only spent my money one time that I remember, on a $3 leather purse. And it was a BIG decision.

By the time I was 10, I had saved $300 and started asking my parents about getting a horse. Our neighborhood wasn’t zoned for it, and boarding was out of the question financially, so it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. But then some friends of the family offered to let me keep a horse in their stable to keep their daughter’s horse company. I started looking for a horse and ended up being given a retired gymkhana showhorse who’d been put out to pasture. I spent my $300 on this saddle and other tack.

I had my beautiful horse until I went away to college and no one rode him anymore. He was an expensive pet so my parents gave him to a family with children. Between the ages of 10 and 15 (when my horse-craziness morphed into boy-craziness) I rode him almost every day. He was a tall chestnut with a white blaze and he loved to run. He was so fast we would leave any other horse in the dust, and he was so sure-footed he never stumbled. He could turn on a dime, back up as long as you wanted him to, and even liked jumping. He was an absolute blast. Most of the time we rode around bareback with just a thin pad, but on all-day trips, I would use this saddle.

When my parents gave away the horse, they put the saddle into storage. I always dreamed I would have a horse again someday and use it. When my husband and I bought our home 6 years ago, my parents (rightfully) made me take all my childhood possessions, including the saddle, now that we had storage space. So the saddle became the bane of my husband’s existence as he moved it from spot to spot in the garage every time he reorganized.

Since my Buy Nothing New year has also turned into a year of Decluttering, I faced up to the fact that this saddle had to go. I cleaned it up and hauled it to the Equestrian Center to find out what they thought it was worth. I was dismayed to learn that the saddle had been in storage for so long it was no longer safe for riding. It had small cracks in the leather, amongst other issues.

I felt really guilty and tried to donate it to The Autry Museum of Western Heritage. They found they already had a saddle like it in their collection, so thanked me but turned down my offer.

So I finally listed it for $50 on ebay last weekend. I was hoping someone might want to use it for decoration. I ended up getting $200 for it from an old man who wanted to keep it in his living area, to remind him of his younger riding days. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect home for my girlhood relic. And I really can’t believe he paid $200 for it.

I feel good about letting the saddle go, maybe the new owner will get more pleasure out of it. And I feel GREAT about the $200. I get to cross it off my to-do list. And best of all, I’m not forcing my husband to deal with my STUFF. He mused about dancing a little jig in the area where it had last been stored, and we raised a toast to the saddle that evening.

What treasures from the past are you holding onto? What are your decluttering challenges? Please share your stories in the Comments section.


  1. thefrugalmusician says

    Oh my what a sweet story! I was ‘saddled’ (har har- sorry) with grief when I read it!
    I had kept a leather purse from the 70s. My dad bought it for me. It was branded with a beautiful and complex butterfly on the flap with fastened with a knot of leather and a loop.
    I gave it to my niece for her 16th birthday along with a note about how my dad spent his last few bucks buying it for me. I hope one day, she’ll pass it along to her daughter.
    Now if I could just get rid of that full length black leather coat from the early 90s Boyfriend bought for me….

  2. dogear6 says

    I felt the same way when I sold my childhood piano. I wasn’t playing it, I did not anticipate playing it, and I had dragged around to several homes before I sold it. And I do not think I would have played it even if I kept it.

    It was hard letting go of a childhood memory like that though.

  3. Kari says

    Awww, I felt wistful reading your blog. You may no longer have the saddle, but you have the memory, and that’s what counts.

    I am holding onto family tree research I did many years ago. That stuff adds up! Books I bought, etc. I want to put it all into the computer, so I can clear out the space all that stuff takes up!

    Actually, I hadn’t thought about it in a while, but your question prompted the memory. Thank you for that. Perhaps I have a project to start?


  4. calimama @ compactbydesign says


    It is a beautiful saddle, but it IS just stuff. Hard to remember that about things we have had for such a long time though.
    When I was a girl I went to a sleep-away riding camp every summer. I adore horses and would love to have them be a part of my life today but it just isn’t to be right now.
    Maybe we will both be riding again some day. In the meantime we have great memories.

  5. Kate Sommers says

    Another blast from the past!I remember that saddle.
    Horses are so much fun but a huge commitment and a lot of work.I bought a beautiful Arabian Colt for $300 in the 80’s.I shoveled poop 3 days a week as barter for keeping him at the stable.After a few months knee deep in poo,I realized being a single mom,having a business and a horse was too much and something had to go.So it was the horse of course.
    I names him Colby and the person that bought him kept his name.
    What I hang on to that I probably should get rid of is a big Rubbermaid container filled with my sons stuffed animals from when he was a toddler.They all had names and bring back so many sweet memories.I haven’t been able to part with them.My son laughs at this and I tell him I’m saving them for my grandchildren.He says he’s never having children so I guess I think if I hang on to them I’ll somehow get grandchildren!

  6. Angela says

    FM- what a thoughtful gift for your niece. It sounds really cute, and I’m sure she appreciates it!
    Good luck with that coat- hmmm, who might wear an extra-small full length leather coat? I’ve got it- Prince!!

    Dogear6- Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I can imagine a piano would have so many memories. And they’re sometimes a beautiful piece of furniture besides.

    Kari- Yes, it does sound like you have a project to start! As I get older, sometimes I find that the project we originally intended morphs into something else. Maybe that will be the case for you. Best of luck! And thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

    Calimama- Yes, it’s true it’s just stuff. And the memories are precious. Aren’t horses the best? Maybe we both will have them in our lives again someday, but for now I think you’ve got enough on your plate!

    Kate- It’s funny that you’re more attached to the stuffed animals than your son. I actually still have my two favorites, plus my dad’s teddy bear. Boy is that stinky! 70 years old- OMG!!
    What I’ve decided is to allow myself the childhood stuff- but only enough for one chest or box, so that I actually get some enjoyment out of them and they’re not just packed away rotting. The rest of it is going to be given away, sold, or donated. Thanks as always for coming by.

  7. Non Consumer Girl says

    Hi Angela.

    It is wonderful to know that your saddle is going to bring some happiness to someone else and is going to be on display and not just tucked away in the garage somewhere.

    I have a pianola that we had in our home since I was born. I have spent a fortune moving it around from house to house ( it is very heavy, iron frame) and now that we have downsized it is stored covered over in our garage, as it does not fit in our home.

    I would like to think that when I sell it eventually that it will go to someone who appreciates it and will love it like I did.

  8. Julie says

    Just yesterday, I shipped off my stainless steel flatware from our 1995 wedding to sell to an online china shop. This is the last of the fancy wedding stuff—I already sold my china and crystal. I kept a broken teapot (it’s pretty and you can’t tell from the outside that it’s cracked) , 1 crystal glass for wine for Friday night blessings (we’re Jewish), and a few serving spoons etc. that they aren’t buying now. Those few bits can remind me of the old days, when I was a bride who thought she needed all this stuff for some sort of Martha Stewart, Pottery Barn existence. Well, that never came to be, and I’m fine with it. I’ve made almost $1000 selling this stuff and I don’t have to drag it with us next time we move. Yippee.

  9. Angela says

    Congrats on getting rid of your stuff- it sounds like you know your priorities and kept just enough.

  10. WilliamB says

    Standard English riding helmet and custom-made ice skates. Either were cheap. The substitutes available at stables/rinks are terrible. Neither take up much space. I very much want to ride again and I do skate occasionally. Since I have space and it’s organized, I plan to keep them. The helmet will go before the skates do.

    To find out what I keep that I needn’t, ask my roommate what ze thinks. (I know what I’d say about zir.)

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