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Tack store owners have unbridled enthusiasm
Before there were automobiles, every Port Orchard resident family had at least two horses in what then passed for a garage.
Today, owning horses has evolved into an expensive hobby, forcing local horse people to travel around the region to fill their needs.
All that changed with the opening of Columbia River Tack, a small shop located near the corner of Bethel and Sedgwick that sells saddles, clothes and the specialized hardware needed to enhance the riding experience.
There is even an embossing machine to create custom metal tags for saddles and stables.
“This looks like a normal shirt,” said co-owner Sean Reichle, pointing to a bright pink patterned shirt on his rack. “But it is cut differently, giving you space in the arms and the back that makes it easier to move around.”
Both Reichle and his wife Jenni have jobs in the animal medical industry, but have opened this “part-time” venture because it gives them the opportunity to provide a needed service to local equine enthusiasts.
“There are several feed stores around, but local horse owners have to go to Tacoma or Olympia to get the supplies they need,” Reichle said. “We have competitive prices, and are offering quality used goods. In a lot of cases, a used saddle that has been maintained is superior and less expensive.
“There was a need for this in Port Orchard, and the opportunity came to us,” he said.
The store occupies a small building that most recently housed several offices, and is close to one of the city’s busiest intersections.
“This is a great location,” Reichle said. “We love the fact that we are so close to the road, and accessible to traffic.”
Reichle said that the horse business has suffered due to the economy, but is bouncing back.
“For a while business was really bad due to the price of fuel,” he said. “Everyone who has a horse has one of those big diesel trucks, and gas was too expensive to go anywhere. But recently people are starting to go to events again.”
Reichle said horse owners are scaling back and people who once had 10 horses may only have five today.
Even so, programs like FFA and 4-H are still popular and equipment is needed for these groups.
Horses, in fact, can rack up stratospheric expenses if they get sick or need special treatment. And breaking a leg can be fatal.
Said customer Destiny Beninger, “Owning a horse can be a full-time job.”
At the same time, it can teach responsibility and organization, and also can have a therapeutic effect for some riders.
Beninger said owning a horse “is cheaper than a psychiatrist,” and she knows of a Muscular Dystrophy patient who was practically an invalid, who was able to walk after learning how to ride.
“Horses can take you a lot of places,” she said. “They can take you around the country, and to the Olympics. And around here they can take you up the Olympics, with all the mountain trails that are accessible to us.”