Know Your Tack Shop
By Leslie Potter
Now that Black Friday is here and Christmas
shopping season is officially open, you’re probably making your list and
checking it twice, unless you’re one of those overachievers who gets it done by
the end of October. For the rest of us, it’s time to decide on a shopping plan
Many cities have some variation on the “buy local”
movement, where shoppers are encouraged to purchase from locally-owned,
independent businesses instead of big box chain stores or buying from some
far-off shop via the Internet. There are plenty of good reasons to go that
route, mainly that it helps your local economy instead of just lining the
pockets of the CEO of Buy-n-Large.
This got me thinking about how I shop for my horse
and riding needs, and I started to wonder if I should be doing more for the
local equestrian economy. I buy my grain at a local shop, of course, and it’s
conveniently located near both Horse Illustrated HQ and my boarding barn. I go
there if I just need something quickly, like a bottle of fly spray. But other
than that, I tend to shop online for stuff like riding clothes or tack. I just
want the best price.
But you can’t put a price on having a great, local
resource, and that’s where the independent tack shops can’t be beat. When I
lived in Maine, I used to visit a tiny little consignment shop called
It’s literally run out of a converted garage, and as a consignment shop, the
in-stock merchandise was always sort of random. But I could walk in there,
describe an issue I was having with a horse, and the shop’s owner would tell me
which bit to try. She was usually right. You don’t get that from Google shopping.
While it isn’t the kind of place you’d go to get this year’s show-ring trend,
you could find great treasures there. I even bought my cutback saddle from
Now I live in the Horse Capital of the World, and I
still miss that little shop in Maine. However, we have a few good ones around
here. There are even a couple right near the center of the city, meaning you
don’t have to schedule a field trip to go shopping. I think my favorite for
browsing is Fennell’s, a little shop at the Red Mile harness track which
specializes in the odd combination of Standardbred equipment and Saddlebred
tack. I don’t often need the harness parts and leather goods that they’re known
for, but they’re worth a visit just for their wall of bits and the selection of
odds and ends that you can’t always find at the big farm supply stores.
I probably won’t stop looking online for the best
prices for certain items, but I think it’s worth browsing and buying from the
local places when possible. It would be a sad day if we lost those resources.
Do you have a great local tack shop in your area,
or do you depend on catalogs and online shopping to get your horse gear? Click
“Submit a Comment” below and tell us about it.
<< Previous Entry
Back to The Near Side
Give us your opinion on
Know Your Tack Shop