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The Cold Hard Truth

“Oh Dad please buy a pony, for I’ve wanted one for so long. I saw one in a field today, we could get him for a song.” If you have kids or were a kid when you started riding, the first few words of this poem probably sound familiar. Wouldn’t be nice if the horse world only cost a song? If you’ve been in the horse world long, you know you can’t get much in the horse world for a song.

For me, my interest in horses started before the age of 5. I knew what horses were and that I wanted one. I wanted one so bad I made an agreement with my dad that I would be good – without any bad – for a whole year. A lifetime later, at least in the mind of a 5 year old, and on a cold and rainy day we waited for what seemed like hours on a highway overpass. My parents located a pony, but knowing nothing of horses, they called some friends for an opinion. I remember looing out the windshield of the family car as they brought up a soaking wet brown and white pony that I would later come to know as “Tuco” (Two Colors). The bargin price on Tuco was around $100. Having nearly thirty years experience in horses now, I know my parents were very lucky.  No one on our side of that purchase tested Tuco or his capablities.  My parents probably thought they were making their daughter's dream come true and probably thought they were getting a good deal. In reality they had no idea what kind of expense they were getting into or what all horses would entail.

The first time I rode Tuco I did so with a halter and a lead rope. That should show you how little my parents knew about horses. They put their 5-year-old daughter, who obviously knew nothing of how to ride, on an untested pony, with a halter and a lead rope. God must have been looking out for all of us. Where my first saddle and bridle came from, I have no idea. How much money my parents spent on all the rest of what comes along with horses, I don’t know that either. What I do know is this, my parents were not rich but, even on a limited income and with three kids, they managed to add to our horse family a short time later with a black mare we called Betsy. This would be my older brother’s horse. Along with Betsy the need for another saddle and bridle would arise. Now they had two horses to pay pasture rent on each month. As stretched as the budget was, there was no way my dad was going to let my little sister go without. They were blessed to have those same horse friends who gave the ok for Tuco a few years earlier loan them a large pony for my little sister. Now there were three horses with pasture rent each month, not to mention any grain we would need, vet bills and farrier bills. And then there was the need a third saddle and another bridle.

Kids outgrow clothes and shoes quickly and it’s no different with saddles. This meant that there were many years we spent riding bareback, no saddle to fit the rider, and a saddle to fit the horse never crossed any of our minds. My dad gave all he could for his kids, and more specifically his oldest daughters love for horses. But, horses can be expensive so many times what we needed or used was obtained second hand.

Sadly, life happens, and the horses had to be sold. I managed to keep horses in my life by excersing a horse for a lady and then later by securing a job two summers in a row teaching girl scouts to ride at a nearby camp. Horses were always my rock and I found teaching children to ride not only seemed to come naturally to me but, I found unbelievably fulfilling.

The cold hard truth of horse expense became obvious to me in my late teen years when I began paying my own way in the horse world. By 18-years-old, I was out of the house and on my own. The horses I grew up with were long gone from my direct life but my love affair with horses was still going strong. I decided to throw myself into the rodeo queen world.  I was "experienced" with horses, self taught most of the way, but I was completely unaware of the costs associated with competing for a rodeo queen title. Thankfully, I was blessed yet again when two different ladies entered my life about the same time and took on “mama” type roles. I would come to call both of them my “Rodeo Moms”. They allowed me to use their horses, saddles, trucks and trailers. When I couldn’t afford, which was most of the time, in a combined effort, they would. They gave a lot of time, money, and effort to see that my dreams of being a rodeo queen would come true not just once, but twice. It was with the first title that I won a Billy Cook Saddle. I think this saddle started my saddle addiction.

After I outgrew the rodeo queen age I saved some money and purchased a horse. Chase, was the first one that I bought and the first one that I would be responsible for. And I couldn’t very well have a new horse without a new bridle and new brushes and a new halter and a new bucket. Sound familiar? I think I nearly bounced the utility checks that month, but I somehow managed to make it.

I mentioned I taught girl scouts to ride for a couple summers in my high school years. I never intended to teach riding lessons in my adult life, but a few years back a co-workers daughter was very sick and my workplace decided to hold a benefit auction for her. Having no money to donate to the cause I offered four riding lessons. Another co-worker bought the lessons for his then 9-old-daughter. Four years later she’s blossomed into quite the rider. I have a feeling her younger sister and brother might follow in her footsteps soon. While discussing my one young student’s progress, yet another co-worker convinced me to start teaching her 6-year-old daughter to ride. And two became three when a troubled teenage girl entered my life. Turns out horses are her rock of foundation too. It wouldn’t be long before word of mouth would travel to yet a third co-worker and I’d receive and email, “I hear you teach kids to ride… I have two daughters.” Oh boy, here we go again.

   

Reflecting back on this I made several observations. One, horses are expensive. Two, I was truly blessed to have so much help in my life with horses. Three, horses gave me a positive grounding point through my teenage years. Four, I find great satisfaction in helping others who want horses in their life. And lastly, it’s my time to pay it forward for all the good that was given to me in the beginning of my horse life.

It's a long story.  But all of this brings me to the establishment of Calvary Farm and Tack, LLC. It’s my goal to provide quality new and used tack at affordable prices so that each person can realize their own dreams in the horse world. If we spend all our free time working to make the money to afford the horse, we will not have the time to enjoy them (thanks Dad for that warning). If I can be an affordable source for some of the horse necessities, maybe I can make horse ownership more enjoyable and less costly. I want to provide quality tack that will hopefully last and in this quest I found the Silver Royal brand. It provided what I found to be a reasonable alternative to the more well known names that usually come with a bigger price tag. This was exactly what I hoped to find for those on a limited or starting budget. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Billy Cooks, Circle Y’s, Herefords, and Longhorns of the world, not to mention the custom saddle makers, but not everyone can afford these name brand saddles. Silver Royal met the goal of quality and price I hoped to find. In addition to the new Silver Royal tack I carry, I am always watching for desirable used tack. I give second lives to solid saddles, bridles, etc. Having spent many a mile in a good used saddle, I know when they are built to last they were worth purchasing used. I do not have my own store front so I have little overhead cost. This along with careful searching allows me to give you an opportunity to save.

 

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