Have you noticed while driving around that there are some gorgeous new brown cars out there?  I’ve seen Volvos, BMWs, Lexuses (Lexi?) and more, in an array of shades from shimmery cocoa…

2011 Volvo

to milk chocolate…

2012 BMW

to 70% dark…

2012 VW Eos

Volkswagen calls their color “black oak brown.”  So there you have it, definitively.  Brown is the new black.

How long do you think it will take for this trend to crossover into tack?

Personally, I think it’s already happening, but it’s still a bit avant garde.  Which, if we take away the word’s outlandish and bizarre connotations, simply means “vanguard,” at the forefront of new developments or ideas.  Who is leading the gardeHeather Blitz (and if you saw her electric blue fly bonnet at the Pan Am Games, you shouldn’t be surprised).  And Tina Konyot, who doesn’t mind riding Calecto V in a combination of brown saddle and black bridle.  Arguably, these two have the best (although different) seats in the dressage world, so they can put them on any color saddle they want.

Tina and Heather have clearly had it with black, but isn’t everyone a little tired of black by now?  I know I am.  I recently bought a vintage brown Neidersuss saddle that looks gorgeous on my chestnut horse, and I have a barely used, deep brown Adam Ellis made in Walsall that’s on consignment right now at Trumbull Mountain.

There’s something rich-looking and comfortingly familiar about brown tack.  Lucky hunter-jumpers and eventers can choose between shades of brown with such evocative names as Newmarket, Berber Brown, Chestnut, Oakbark, and Noisette, while dressage riders are largely limited to black (and when it gets older, gray-black).  Of course, if I had a Donnerwhatever dressage horse, I’d still probably opt for black.

I long for the not so long ago (at least in my own frame of reference), when brown was standard for all saddles and black was the exception.  Field boots were brown.  Dress boots were black.

This year, the USEF ruled that boots can match coats, which means brown dressage boots are getting trendy.  Yes, it’s true.  There are even purple dressage boots, although Konig is calling it blackberry.  It’s fashion, after all, and what once looked horrible will look fabulous, given enough time.  Personally, I’m waiting for the return of brown field boots.  That will get me to the hunter derbies.

While I wait, Vogue and Harpers Bazaar are hailing the return of the c. 70s chubby made famous by Yves Saint Laurent, along with c. 1980s suits with shoulderpads.  That’s the vintage of my brown Neidersuss Symphonie, made by the venerable German company which was the official saddler for the 1988 Olympics.  It’s my bet we see more brown dressage saddles in London in 2012.

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