Saturday, January 15, 2011

Equestrian style ...

As a child, I asked my parents for a pony a million times, but it never got me any closer to owning one.

However, in my imaginary world, the roof of my dog's house served as my mount -- it was quite the jumper! We (my dog's house and I) took home too many blue ribbons to count.

By the time I reached adulthood, I was ready to skip the horse and simply buy the handsome riding accessories (real, not imaginary). Leather seduced me! Riding boots and handbags, luggage and vests, I was a sucker for a tanned hide ... and still am.

Photos above (left) via Luxe and Lillies and (right) Stylehive.

Then, in the mid-1990s I fell in love with a polo player! He was 90 years old at the time, and I wasn't even half that. Perhaps I should explain. Cecil Smith was the greatest polo player that ever lived and was being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. I was a public relations hired gun honored to be writing his bio and introduction speech.

Photos: Stella McCartney has 'my' dream look down pat (above left), and a Life magazine cover photo of Cecil Smith (right) at the height of his reign as the best polo player in the world.

Cecil and his lovely wife welcomed me into their inviting home, and that's when another love story began: my affair with equestrian style decor. It's refined, but not pretentious; it's masculine, but not brooding; it's worldly, but not stuffy.

Their ranch home was filled with memorabilia - photos, trophies, ribbons, riding crops - all the things you would expect from an illustrious sports career.

So, when I saw the image at left in Country Living, it brought back all of those warm memories and renewed my affinity for equestrian style.

This is significantly different than 'cowboy chic' or 'western ranch decor.' Just like the sport of polo, this look has a pedigree that begins in Persia, traverses through England and is heavily influenced by its Argentinian and American heritage.

You can't nail horse art on a wall and call it a day. There is a real finesse required to get this look right. Think clubby, old world feel.

These images really capture equestrian style. Above, photo at left via Belle Vivir and the image at right is from my old photo library, source unknown.

Masculine woods in a luxury bath via Dolce Magazine and vintage Loving Cup are emblematic of 'the look.' 

Cecil was a humble man with a warm, graceful home that embodied the iconic sport as well as the timeless style of classic design.


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