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….:)>

Cavallo Rosso – Red Horse Sauces by Tack and Tweed

Fresh Marinara and Fresh Basil Pesto

Many years ago, a fellow mom friend and I founded a baby food company named Petite Palate (good press: https://people.com/parents/petite-palate-g/ ). I was making food for my newborn son, and started selling it to friends and family and small retailers. It grew pretty large; eventually selling on Amazon, Whole Foods and other regional retailers. We were all the vanguard of the frozen baby food frenzy along with Happy Baby and Plum Organics.

Our Organic Apple Pear Blend

It wasn’t long before our competitors started offering shelf stable options, like pouches. We refused as we really believed that frozen retains more nutrients and is healthier for babies, being closer to homemade. This turned out to be our tragic error, as most retailers do not want to dedicate their prime real estate next to the frozen pizzas to something as novel as frozen baby food.

Next blow was the crash of 2008, and poof, all our funding dried up, sealing our fate. (Not-so-good press: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/business/smallbusiness/06sbiz.html).

After YEARS of healing and recovering financially and mentally (it was such a labor or love and we dedicated our lives for years to our endeavor), I think I can finally start another project. This time, however, slow growth and complete control over finances is my goal.

I have been selling my t-shirts and equestrian themed apparel (available here), and it’s been so much fun, but I am excited to incorporate my chef skills to my business. I’ve been cooking my own fresh marinara, basil pestos for years. I decided to start exploring how I can monetize my love of cooking and my yearning to start a food business again.

I found a great kitchen incubator named Hudson Valley Beta Kitchen (HVBK), in the adorable town of Croton on Hudson. I’m putting together my recipes, scaling them up for small batch production and will be selling them at local farm stores, farmers’ markets, and local summer festivals.

Starting with Fresh Marinara, Fresh Basil Pesto, and Spicy Thai Basil Pesto under the sub-brand, Cavallo Rosso, meaning Red Horse in Italian – same brand look at feel as Tack and Tweed, but food-related.

I’m hoping to be ready in time to launch at the Summer Fest in the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, finger’s crossed I can secure all the necessary permits.

I’ll be posting recipes that can be made with the Marinara Sauce and ways to use the different Pestos, so stay tuned! If you are local to Northern Westchester County, NY and want samples, please email me at TackandTweed@gmail.com; in addition, any comments, please comment below as I need and appreciate any feedback!

xo

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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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Retail Therapy

I have fun news for my local readers: some local and very popular tack stores have given me the opportunity to launch my line in their beautiful shops. We’ve collaborated and curated specific Tack and Tweed apparel and accessories for clients in and around the Hudson Valley, Westchester and Connecticut.

The first store to graciously feature my apparel is Saddle Manor in Patterson, NY, which serves Northern Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and Fairfield Counties. Owner Donna Woods will be sure to take care of your every need with a smile and warm welcome. She has a wide variety of beautiful saddles, apparel, tack and anything else your horse or horse lover could possibly need! Stop in Monday through Saturday 10am – 5pm. 2974 Route 22, Patterson, NY 12563 (845) 878-3881.

The Horse Connection is in Bedford – New York’s horsiest town. It was started by owner Natasha Tarasov in 1992 as a mobile tack store offering the best products at the best price with the best service. Her store is a popular staple in Bedford’s historic downtown. Treat yourself to lunch in town at Bedford 234 or the Bedford Post Inn after buying your horse-crazy girl one of my super soft sweatshirts ;).

Open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm. 38 Village Green, Bedford, NY (914) 234-2047

The next two stores are local famous farm markets and have taken on some of my more artsy apparel. We feature the stunning equestrian watercolors of the talented Lorisa Zorina. Please drop by and enjoy some cider donuts and their very own hard cider (yum!) at Harvest Moon Orchard in North Salem.

Open daily summer and fall 9am – 6pm. 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem, NY (914) 485-1210.

Also take some time and visit the stunning Rochambeau Farm in Mt. Kisco, NY. Your kids will love to feed their incredibly happy farm animals while you will enjoy munching on their own fresh produce and browsing local products, like my friend Susanne Nastasi’s line of homemade, all natural laundry wash, aptly branded The Farm Babe.

Open Wednesday – Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm. 214 West Patent Road Mt. Kisco, NY 10549 (914) 241-8090.

If you are in the area, please support these amazing local stores who are holding their own against the big online retailers. There is something so wonderful about going in to a real store, trying a pair of breeches on for a perfect fit, touching soft and luxurious garments, smelling leather tack and most importantly, creating a genuine relationship with local business owners who truly care and contribute to our communities.

xo

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SPCA – Caring for Westchester’s Kittens Puppies & Ponies

Orange Tabby Kitten - ball of fluffy love ready for adoption
Ball of Fluffy Love up for adoption at the SPCA in Briarcliff NY – Orange Tabby Kitten

Anyone who is concerned with cruelty to animals has heard of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and the one in Briarcliff, NY is one of the oldest. Founded by Mary Dusenberry (of Ossining) in 1883 after witnessing horses being mercilessly beaten and whipped as they carried heavy loads of coal up a nearby hill, Mary and her generous friends bought the land and started a fund to help our animal friends. Besides caring for smaller animals like dogs and cats, the SPCA in Briarcliff has an Equine Rescue Fund, helping to find our less fortunate equine friends right here in Westchester County; sad to say that there are many horses and ponies in bad shape right in our own back yards. They provide food, shelter, medical, farrier and emergency care for abused equines around the area. They even help enforce animal cruelty laws (Animal Cops Westchester!).

Ready for Adoption - baby Black mix...cute little boy needs some love!!!
Baby Black Retriever Mix ready for love and a fun family to hug!!

For more information, sponsor an animal or make a much needed donation to these heroes, please go to www.SPCA914.org. To reach the Equine Rescue Fund directly, please call (914) 941-2896 ext. 12. Contributions can be made out to the SPCA Equine Rescue fund and mailed to the SPCA. The SPCA depends solely upon private donations; it is a no-kill shelter and is not affiliated with the ASPCA, and receives no federal, state or county funding.

 

 

Rescued Pony from the Equine Rescue at the SPCA Westchester
Rescued Pony from the Equine Rescue at the SPCA Westchester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sponsoring the monthly care of a kitty and I challenge all my Westchester and Connecticut friends to help. No amount is too little.

xo

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