My Kingdom for a Horse

Is it me, or has the horse sale market been insane lately? My sweet older Appendix Chance hasn’t been himself for over a year now, and about 8 months ago, I surrendered to the fact that it’s time to retire my handsome chestnut and find a new riding partner <see footnote below>.

It’s been a hot decade since I’ve looked at getting a new horse, and in my naivety, I thought my budget was pretty hefty for a buddy that can do lower level dressage, trail ride, maybe some low adult hunters, etc. I wasn’t looking for a fancy sport horse, just an all around youngish, sound horse with a good brain. No problem, right?? WRONG.

I started with word of mouth at local barns or with local trainers. Horses that were in my budget not 2 years ago are now 3 -4 times the cost. What happened? I heard that perhaps during COVID when people were not going into the city to work, or being forced to stay home and isolate, people either started riding or became more interested in their weekend warrior habit. I suppose riding is naturally socially distanced. Nearby horses and their board cost an arm and a leg, and perhaps a kidney too. Recently boarding fees total more than most people’s rents, and horses have price tags that have more zeroes than sports cars. As I cannot afford to raid the kid’s college fund, I would just have to be more creative in my search.

At today’s inflated market this leaves me with limited options in my area -either find an older statesman (but soon to be retired – I can’t have another one of those), a sour schoolie or find a baby and train it up. (That would most likely land me in the hospital, as I simply do not have those skills.)

I expanded my search parameters; I scanned every horse listing on every facebook horse group, every online horse sale page, every classified on Craigslist. Did I need to travel to Oregon to test out a new horse without my trainer, pay for an unknown vet for a PPE, and then ship it 3000 miles only to find it has kissing spine? I looked at every breed, every conformation, every size. You name it, I considered it. I looked at horse finding trip airfares to Florida, Ohio, Colorado and British Colombia. I Google-mapped routes to western Pennsylviania, Kentucky, Ontario. My poor trainer had to screen every listing I sent her prompting her to politely tell me “do not to buy without trying” about 5 times per week. My search consumed my evenings late into the night.

I took a step back and a deep breath. I’m a blessed person to have a horse in the first place, so I needed to recalibrate and count my lucky stars and thank God for everything I have. I will find my new partner, just not now, and just like that, my stress level went down, and a new opportunity opened up.

My friend rides at a show barn with an excellent reputation. One of their clients had her experienced, sweet and super solid chestnut gelding available for a partial lease. I jumped on the opportunity. He’s perfection and I’m so happy to have such a sweet horse to ride while my search goes on hiatus for now. I will enjoy what I have, ride Chance when he’s feeling ok, and hug my kids and doggies and be thankful that I have such a great family. If God trots another permanent partner my way, all the better.

What are your experiences? What the horse market look like around you? Where do you think the market is going?

<footnote: As soon as I said out loud I was going to get a new horse, Chance decided that he didn’t feel so lame and was somewhat ridable again. I think he knew I was looking. As soon as I decided to wait little longer until purchase, he immediately went lame again – so all I can do with him at this writing is tack walk. Funny how that works….:)>

Life after Lame

I’m sure many of us have been there. You’re riding and something feels wrong. Are you pulling on the reins too much? Is your seat not right? Are you out of balance? I naturally go to what I’m doing wrong (which is the usual suspect), but this time, it was Chance’s leg that gave out.

Chance is my steady Eddie…the Golden Retriever of horses; forever an ambassador for the equine species to kids and adult beginners and husbands alike. To see him out of action breaks my heart. His gait was never completely even, but this seems different, like we won’t ever do that training level dressage class we were working towards.

Chance has a bad stifle (the rescue where I adopted him said it was because of an injury as a colt…we’ll never know for sure). There seems to be quite a bit of arthritis in the joint, and it’s basically taken all summer to for him to feel up to trotting at a good clip for more than 20 minutes; we’ve yet to canter.

I’m left wondering if he’ll ever be back to normal, but then I think will I? My back and neck have arthritis and hurt every other day. I’ve been feeling carpal tunnel start in my wrists of late, and I have to struggle to keep off that last 5 pounds these last few years. As we age together, I’m happy to fight for every canter, trot and trail ride we have left. With enough Advil for me and bute for him, there is definitely life after lame!

xo

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First Show in Years

My son Dane has ridden horses for years, but only recently decided to start showing and get a little more serious. This past Sunday, we took him to his first show at Gardnertown Farms across the Hudson in Newburgh, NY. I don’t know who was more nervous, him or me!  He looked very dashing in his show coat and tie. I told him it would look better with a sparkle unicorn t-shirt (like the ones you can buy in my store) but he disagreed <wink>. 

Dane has been training for showing with Angelo Danza at Three Phase Equestrian Center / AD Sporthorses, and it’s been amazing to watch him improve and ready himself for this level of intensity. I’ve always been proud of his ability to bond with horses, especially the very forward and sweet thoroughbred Greta (show name “Game Face”), he was riding today. 

The first class out of three, was a crazy course with 14 jumps.  I looked at the map and realized that this event was almost more about memory than equitation. The rain was varying from light to medium and was probably a blessing as it would have been very hot in the afternoon sun. The small crowd of watchers gathered under the trees by the event ring as the riders strenuously repeated the course in their heads, “red, red, outside, diagonal, oxer – no, brown!”  

The first rider rode and cleared, though her horse was an unwilling participant, shying and fighting the whole way. I hoped Dane was paying close attention but I’m sure the first event butterflies were not helping him concentrate. After a couple more riders, it was his turn. 

The whistle blew and he was off.  One jump and then another went smoothly but Greta was excited and running super fast. Angelo was calling out instructions from ringside, mostly to “slow down!” but Dane was struggling to steady the pace.

Agh! SLOW DOWN!!!

Eventually around the twelfth jump he made a wrong turn and the beep-beep of the “rider off course” ended his first run. But for a first run it was great – fast (too fast!) and he had almost finished. To add to the excitement he knocked over a standard on the way out (still going fast) and Angelo went to pick it up for him. 

Dane was clearly frustrated but we told him it was an amazing first run. The rain drizzled on and the riders cycled through the second round until it was Dane’s turn again. They had changed the jump order and he nearly got it except for a wrong turn right at the end. Beep-beep!  So close, but Greta was feeling more confident, as was Dane. 

As the last round got going my husband worked with Dane to memorize the jump order as they watched the other riders. Then it was time to run again. Dane made one jump after another . I heard Greta hit a pole in the middle but I didn’t see if it fell. A tight turn into the final jump (“let her see it!” called Angelo) and he had finished his first successful run! Great Father’s Day Gift!

Great jump, but squinting from the pouring rain….

The riders went to put the horses back in the trailer while we waited for the results. We knew he wouldn’t be placing in the first two incomplete rounds but then I heard them announce the third, “First Place, Dane Beels and Gameface”. A blue ribbon on his first competition!  The other kids cleaned up as well! He makes me one proud horse Mom!

The blue ribbon round 🙂

Happy New Year!

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For the New Year’s celebration, I’ll be kicking it here at home. My daughter has a nasty cold, so babysitters are out. This has, however, given me some time to shop online New Year’s Eve sales for equestrian equipment while sipping some bubbly.

Post Christmas, there are some great deals, so if you have a moment between parties, check ’em out. 

Need new muck boots? Normally, these Noble Outfitter’s Ladies MUDS are over $100, but you can get them at Dover Saddlery for 39.95, and yes, there are multiple sizes and colors still available. 

NobleOutfittersBoots39.95

This is an adorable vest by Riding Sport at Dover, normally $40 on sale for $14.99, pretty great price for a pretty quilted vest. Different colors and sizes available (this one matches the boots). 

RidingSportQuiltedVest

It seems as if we’ve had (at least here on the East Coast) more days of rain than anything else. I’m about to build an arc…anyway, this rain jacket (it’s men’s, but I’m sure anyone can wear it. Beval Saddlery regularly $199 on sale for $49.99 – pretty good!!

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If you’re looking for something for your four legged friend(s), like a new snuggly winter blanket or sheet, type on over to Statelinetack.com and you can shop their big blanket blowout. I found this really nice Tough-11200D Snuggit Tough blanket from $69.95 (normally $156):

turnout

And, if it’s not too late…try to go out and find this for your celebration or drink it at the barn with your buddies, Dark Horse Brut, $13.99.

DarkHorseSparklingWine

xo,

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Go Ahead, Say the F.Word(s)…

No, not THAT F-Word, but “Fit. Fashion. Function. and Flexibility” the motto of a new brand of athletic couture named F.Words. I had the privilege of meeting the founder and designer Kendel Neidermyer at this year’s American Gold Cup in North Salem, NY. I was immediately drawn in the by real leather knee patches (100% deerskin) on her breeches, a luxurious and functional touch (can you say “grippy”?). I moved from the beautiful leather to the soft, but durable breech material, which, when pulled on, acts like a slimming pant (horray) but breathes and moves freely with the body. The best part is the pocket on the thigh perfect for your phone. I always struggle with what to do with my cell when I ride, and breeches with “deep pockets” are great.

 

I also love her original and beautiful jackets, which can go from the ring to the restaurant, barring any unforeseen horsey-fails in the manure.  Kendel’s rain gear will keep you dry but still stylish. She continues her collection with a bunch of well-designed leggings; any Basic B’s wardrobe go to. I want to put her “Frisky Leggins” that have an anti-muffin top to the test….

Kendel Neidermyer founded F. Words in July 2017. It’s a small, female-run, self-funded, luxury athletic wear brand. I, of course, focus on her equestrian pieces, which are exquisite, but these garments can be for any woman, whether she rides horses or not. In fact, some of these pieces are too nice for an afternoon hack, but you’ll look great doing it.

I love that everything is made in the USA, and although expensive, each piece is completely hand made and completed by one artisan; you are getting the highest quality. Kendel can be found at trunk shoes, at major horse shows; but her clothing can be found online at her site F. Words or at high end tack stores like Manhattan Saddlery in NYC, Ella Palo Alto in CA, and Kaval.com.

xo

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Fitting Your Horse Rug, Blanket or Sheet

Fitting A Blanket to Your Horse

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Hermes DouDou Winter Blanket 1850 usd

Now that the weather has started to turn colder, we’re all starting to pull our musty horse blankets out from deep storage. If you’re looking to purchase a new blanket, or even searching through used blankets, getting the best available size is very important. If a blanket doesn’t fit correctly, it can cause discomfort (even rubs or sores), get stuck on a fence or tree branch, or even completely fall off and to get trampled.

When I purchased my first blanket (after adopting Chance), I got it on super sale from eBay, and prayed that it would fit my horse. It didn’t, and I couldn’t return it. Good money thrown down the drain. After that, I decided to actually measure my sweet boy and find something in his size range.

Use the following tips to get the best size for your steeds and for a final fitting, please see the guide below from Your Horse Magazine. They posted a very comprehensive and easy-to-follow tutorial on YouTube.

Measuring Tips

  1. Make sure your horse is standing square.
  2. Have a soft tape measure or a long string available (having a friend to help is always nice!)
  3. Start measuring at the center of the chest (between the two chest muscles).
  4. Stretch out the tape measure or string up the broad side of the horse and all the way around to where the hair starts to hit the buttock.
  5. Keep the tape measure tight and level for the best measurement.
  6. This measurement will be your horse’s blanket size, in inches. (If you used a string, mark on the string where you started and ended and then measure the string between these marks.)
  7. If you are between sizes, order a size up for the best fit.
  8. Remember that size varies between brands, so do a little research on the brand’s sizing for best results.

 

Now the shopping fun begins!! Look at all the cute blanket choices that are available these days:

Post tips or your favorite blankets below!

xo

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En Lusitaine by Beatrice Bulteau

A couple years back, I met the artist Beatrice Bulteau at the Equus Film Festival in New York City, where her short, En Lusitaine (above) won Best Artistic Film. Born in the countryside of Loire France, she is currently based in Portugal and works in a number of mediums. Porcelain, print, watercolor, animation, illustration; there’s nothing she cannot do. I instantly fell in love with her simple but elegant aesthetic as she celebrates the clean beauty and noble nature of her frequent subject, the Lusitano Horse.

I will have to save some money to have one of her original watercolor pieces grace my humble home’s walls, however, I can adorn my body with either one of her new clothing pieces or leather handbags. I do recall a gorgeous maxi dress in one of her promotional ads, but I cannot find it to order (please comment below if anyone knows where to find it). I will be ordering one of her beautiful t-shirts (perfect for a night out or a ride in the ring). Her original handbags and silk scarves, as well as any of her artistic works can be purchased online at BeatriceBulteau.com.

bulteaubag350
Leather Bag B 350usd

bulteau$50
TShirt Blue Jumping 50usd

bultau250
TShirt Luso Grey 50usd

bed+sheet+and+pillows
Pillow and Sheets 350usd

IronSculpture280
Iron Trot Sculpture 280usd

lusogreywatercolor650
Luso Grey Watercolor 625usd

scarf+jacq+158
Mousseline Silk Scarf 158usd

xo

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Mocha Chocha Latte

Puppy of love

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Apparently 5 chickens, 2 kids, a horse, 2 cats and a husband isn’t enough to have hanging around the house, so we adopted a puppy several months ago. Mocha (nickname MochaChochaLatte), rescued from Alabama, born on Christmas Day, is the newest member of our clan.

Introducing her to the family has been interesting; she successfully herds our chickens (she’s mainly border collie), tries to herd the horses (no success there), goes mountain biking with my husband (even wearing HIM out), and brings in all sorts of dirt and love to the house.

I have to start looking for Border Collie themed (or maybe just puppy) horse accessories. Stay posted, in the meanwhile, here are some gratuitous puppy shots/videos.

xo

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Hunter Paces….

My sweet steed, Chance, is really shaping up. Minus an old stifle injury as a colt, he’s been sound. He’s not going to any grand prix competitions any time soon (neither would I, by the way), but he has gotten in shape enough to “compete” in some regional hunter paces. My son rode in last weekend’s Rombout Foxhounds Hunter Pace up by Hyde Park, NY.

The hunt club did a wonderful job setting up the jumps (all decorated beautifully), tabletops and food. Catering was delicious (pumpkin soup, chili and desserts too numerous to count)!

I love hunter paces. From beginners to super-competitive riders, all are welcome. Dane (my son) and Chance had lots of fun and Team Beech Hill (our group of three riders/horses) did great! Not in the ribbons, but there were many teams and their time was pretty darn good.

Have any of you done hunter paces? How do you like them? Post your pictures/videos here or on our Facebook page!

xo

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…and they’re off!

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Just some fun ;) and oh yeah, a new web address….

So a domain squatter stole TackandTweed.com right out from under me, so I had to switch it to TackandTweed.net. Sorry for any inconvenience – but our content will remain the same, just have to switch your browser cookies :).

Otherwise, during this holiday week (Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!) with the kids home from school, it was time to get them out. The weather has been strange here in Westchester, and we don’t have an indoor at our barn, so the ice has been accumulating. Before this all happened (including us catching the evil flu – never missing a flu shot again), we were able to have a little fun while we had a bit of snow. Enjoy and Happy New Year!!! I’ll have some new fashion tips and product reviews in the new year.

xo

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(goofball was wondering why this strange human wasn’t moving, but his arms were so scary).

Riding Conditions Bleh? – Time for a Longe Lesson…

IMG_6475It’s been a rough couple of months for those of us not lucky enough to either live in the South or West where riding is doable most of the year. We’ve had snow, ice, freezing rain (as differs from ice, go figure), below zero wind chills and frozen ground. Not very fun (or safe) for riding. I haven’t even seen the trail since fall, and our ring space keeps shrinking in size as the snow accumulates. It’s hard even getting my butt to the barn on days that I can barely get out of the house it’s so cold.

This past week, while the sun briefly peeked out though the thick cloud covering, and my little leased horse rested (growing a big belly) my trainer had the idea to take advantage of the crappy conditions and do something that I only see the up/dowers do – the longe line lesson with another sweet lesson horse. I thought, cool – I’ll take a break from aching thighs and let her drive for a while.

Wrong.

I’m sure most of you barely remember doing this as kids. Going in circles, no reins, and letting your trainer walk the pony around and around – all you had to do was stay on. This was different. Snow and ice covered the ground; we began at a walk. Cool, easy peasy. No reins today! Post the walk. Ugh. Okay, keep going. Up to a trot and post. Constant trotting, arms up, down, out to the side, behind me and then no stirrups. Try and sit the trot. Oops, quick spook, panic canter, then back on track. Post the trot. I regret thinking my thighs wouldn’t burn that day. After what seemed like a long time, we switched direction and did the whole routine over. She then asked me to close my eyes. This was a crazy feeling for me! Taking away my vision helped me pick up the correct diagonal easier, and helped me feel little Rocket underneath me, silly, but I actually felt closer to him. I also learned that I may depend on my hands WAY too much, and taking them away forced me to balance correctly.

It’s a great lesson in many ways. We helped my seat and balance, which need CONSTANT attention; helped my thighs, which get soft in winter; and helped my attitude, getting my horse fix even in the cold weather always gets me out of the doldrums. This was a great way to take advantage of what little riding we can do – give it a shot 🙂

Thank you Trainer Lisa!! Thank you!

xo

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Icy Ride, Safe Ride – Winter Riding Safety

Looking out the window at all the ice from this weekend, I’m again wishing for better riding weather.  Those of us who can’t ride in warmer climates (and especially without covered rings) are faced with making the decision to not ride at all or try to take short rides as safely as possible. I found this article in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, which has some great advice for we northern tundra riding folk ;).

I’m going to take her advice and try bareback with my little Cuervo – want to keep my butt warm!

xo

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Winter horseback riding can be fun, but special care is needed

Posted Nov. 18, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

BangorDailyNewsHorse
Courtesy of Jesse Schwarcz | Schwarcz Photography Shadow, a 37-year-old Arabian owned by Heather Robbins, enjoys the snow at Wild Ivy Farm in Bangor.

Courtesy of Jesse Schwarcz | Schwarcz Photography
Shadow, a 37-year-old Arabian owned by Heather Robbins, enjoys the snow at Wild Ivy Farm in Bangor.

It is inevitable. There will be snow, cold and ice. For some horse owners, this means hanging up the saddle and giving the horse some time off. Others forge ahead. With careful preparation, riding in the winter can be enjoyable and safe.

Some riding stables have an indoor riding arena, which eliminates the concern of icy footing and biting wind. For those not so fortunate, riding can be done outside as long as there isn’t ice or deep, crusted-over snow. Horses are very capable in the snow, but when it gets that frozen layer over the top, it is difficult for the horses to break through and they may even lacerate their lower legs. It also impedes their movement which could result in a fall of both horse and rider.

For the winter months horses should either go barefoot, with no horseshoes, or have special snow-tire-like shoes with caulks and a pad between the hoof and shoe that keeps snow from balling up. Horses’ hoofs are cupped, so snow will pack in if horses wear typical metal shoes, which makes hooves like bowling balls and the horse very unsteady. Disaster is eminent.

With a barefoot horse, or one fitted with winter shoes, riding outside through snow-covered trails is a most enjoyable outdoor activity. Some considerations are important, however. In order to carry a rider through deep snow, a horse has to work extra hard, so be aware of horses’ fitness and exertion during an outside ride. If a horse has a full winter coat, it can quickly become very sweaty with the extra effort required to plow through snow, and care must be taken to keep that horse warm after a ride until its coat has dried. The drying process can take hours. It may be a better idea to limit physical work to avoid having a horse sweat a lot. They can’t shed layers if they get warm the way riders can.

For the rider, wearing appropriate gear can be a challenge. Riders can’t wear slippery snow pants or chunky boots to ride in. One will make it hard to stay on, and the other makes it hard to get your foot out of the stirrup should you not stay on. While a fall off a horse into the snow isn’t a bad way to land, it can be an awfully long walk home should that horse decide that he has urgent business to attend to back at the barn.

One of the more comfortable ways to ride in winter is going bareback — the horse’s back, not the rider’s. A horse with a broad enough back can be lovely to sit on in winter. They are natural seat warmers. A narrower horse, while still warm, isn’t as cushiony to sit upon.

Riding should never be attempted on ice. Horses do not handle ice well. Occasionally, there will be a horse that can figure out how to safely negotiate an icy patch, but the majority of them play out the Bambi scene from the Disney movie. Except in this case, Bambi weighs a thousand pounds or more and it isn’t cute when he comes crashing down, limbs all akimbo. Horses can easily fracture a leg falling on ice, so not only should ice be avoided when riding but if your paddocks are icy, horses may need to stay in the barn until there is sufficient snow to cover them or it melts. Some horse owners will outfit their horses with studded horseshoes just to avoid an accident at pasture. In general, horses will avoid ice naturally, but sometimes, they get goofing around and don’t pay attention to the footing.

Horses are quite adapted to cold weather and as long as they don’t get wet from rain, snow or sweat, they are very comfortable being outside. Wintertime in Maine has its challenges for keeping horses, but the opportunities for some spectacular riding should not be missed. If a horse — not a rider — is barefoot and bareback, riding amongst the snow covered pine trees is a dreamy way to get through the winter.

The Ebony Horsewoman

EbonyHorsewomanLogoSince I’ve been around horses, I’ve known the wonderful things they can do for young people. Some of the most responsible, talented, polite and hardworking boys and girls I can think of, work around a barn for lessons, for themselves and for their ponies and horses. Horses, sometimes intimidating but always a mirror to ourselves, can also reach even the hardest to reach humans. I witnessed this myself when I worked at a small urban barn in Queens, NY (Lynne’s Riding School) whose gentle lesson horses participated in Gallop NYC, teaching autistic and children with downs syndrome the joy of riding.

Patricia E. Kelley, a top Western equestrian and former marine (wow), has known this since 1983 when she founded The Ebony Horsewoman. She has been working with inner city kids, teaching animal care and science (including Western and English riding) to over 300 Hartford, CT kids per year.

“We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly, 66. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”

By exposing kids in Hartford to horsemanship, she hopes to give them an alternative to the hardships that they may endure every day. They can escape street stress and spend time and energy in her 693 acre park with 14 horses, a Shetland pony, and a number of other animal species, which are taken care of by her students.

Really innovative is her Jr. Mounted Patrol – a group of young riders charged with patrolling the park and reporting back with what is going on in the park. How wonderful is this??

I want to highlight her work and perhaps drum up some dinero for her efforts. As winter descends upon the farm, they could use some money for feed and hay, and I’m sure any number of other items for her non-profit.

Way to go Ms. Kelley! I’ll be on your donor list 🙂

All photos are from their web site – I just thought they were too cool not to feature.

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/topvideos/2014/12/05/natpkg-cnn-heroes-tribute-kelly.cnn

Ebony Horsewomen, Inc.
337 Vine Street | Hartford, CT 06112

Phone: (860) 293-2914
Fax:    (860) 293-0039

Email: info@ebonyhorsewomen.us
www.ebonyhorsewomen.us

xo

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Tack and Tweed’s Holiday Gift Guide for Winter 2014

Tack and Tweed Holiday Gift Guide Cover
Tack and Tweed Holiday Gift Guide Winter, 2014

Wondering what to get your horsey loved ones? We have some ideas to help you out!!!

We feature some of our favorite brands, as well as some new ones, most of which can be purchased online simply by clicking the link in the guide. For items sold by Ride Bedford, please give Courtney a call – she will personally help you with anything you need and will be sure to give you the best product at the best value.

By the way our very own Tack and Tweed limited edition cell phone covers designed by Beatrice Bulteau and made in France, may be purchased here, or by emailing me directly (Lisa@TackandTweed.com)!

Tack and Tweed Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Happy Holiday Shopping!!!

xo

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There’s a bun (or two) in the oven…

No, I’m not with child, but we’ve been busy here at T&T! We’ve been collaborating with renowned Equestrian Artist Beatrice Bulteau to create a gorgeous new product just in time for the holidays – will launch tomorrow….

Also, we’ve put together our annual Tack and Tweed Holiday Gift Guide which will be published in less than two days….can’t wait!! Okay, back to work….

xo

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