At the weekly Backcountry Horsemen meeting last night, the comment was made (in reference to a local tack shop) that we should shop local, because if we don't, they soon won't be there, and we'll have no choice but to shop online.
I've been thinking about this, and too be quite honest, I'm a bit torn. Shopping is generally not high on my funmeter, except at Cabela's or Big J's. Shopping online saves me time, gas, and usually money, as I can find better prices. But, I must admit, there are times when I want to be able to hold something in my hand before making the decision to buy it. And, at least where the tack store in question is concerned, it's too small and jam packed, rarely has anything I'm looking for, is overpriced, and, by the way, the proprietor is an asshole. Doesn't make me want to stop in.
Mike's Western, in Enumclaw, is a little better. It's still too small and crowded, but Mike, who is a good old boy from Texas, knows where everything is, and if he doesn't have it, he can get it. His prices are fair, and generally negotiable. He recognizes you when you come in, and will take time to shoot the breeze.
So, I guess for me, the decision to shop local or online boils down to the experience. Your mileage may vary.
Speaking of tack, I picked up two new pieces of tack at the gun show, of all places. One is a leather scabbard that fits a scoped rifle. It's clearly seen use, as the leather is soft and well broke in. It's in excellent condition, and I talked the seller out of it for 40 bucks. Brand new, it would have been at least $125 or better.
The other item I picked up is a 1957 Marlin 336 RC chambered in 30-30. What's that? You don't think it qualifies as tack? Pshaw! Mrs. BR and the daughters buy fancy show tack and clothes, but my idea of tack merely takes another form. Besides, I've been jonesing to get my greasy mitts on one of these classics for awhile, and this one is in better condition than most of the newer ones that were for sale, and the price was better. So there!
I rode a different horse tonight. Our friend B is away at college, and her gelding, X, hasn't been getting much saddle time. She's happy to let us use him, and, since I am considering care leasing him come Spring, I need to test him out. X is a Morgan-something or the other cross. I think he is eight. I decided to give him a go tonight. DN3 suggested that I longe him first. To which suggestion I cast a rather baleful look. While I don't criticize the activity, it just isn't something I do. I want to saddle up and get to gettin'.
She made the point, however, that he hadn't been getting much exercise, so I said, fine, have at it. It was quite the show, with X looking more like a bucking bronc than a saddle horse. It did give me pause to question whether this was a good idea, but having seen him under saddle on numerous occasions, I knew all would be well. He was being a bit lazy, and, I suspect, testing me out. Once he realized that I had a clue, he became very responsive. His trot is a bit rough, but he has a nice lope.
I want to work him back into shape, and then try him out on some trail rides. If that works out, I'll probably lease him, and train him to carry a pack saddle. I'm excited about the prospect.