Saturday, December 31, 2011

The BEST way to care for your Five Star Bridle

I often get asked by customers what the proper way is to take care of their new bridle and with the many sales Five Star had this holiday season I thought it would be a good idea to go over how best to take care of your Five Star tack. This is important because failure to follow these simple instructions will have a negative effect on the leather and most likely shorten its life, so read carefully!

It is a very common practice in the US to oil or dip tack before use and most often too much oil is used to do this. Unfortunately this is not good for Sedgwick leather. This is the leather Five Star uses for it's Five Star Bridles. High end companies such as Hadfields, Beval, and D'yon  use Sedgwick leather as well for their bridlework and if you look up their care instructions they also advise against oiling.

"How come I can't oil my bridle when that's what I've always done?" Sedgwick leather is carefully tanned to preserve the natural oil in the hide. They start out using a better quality hide than most companies which makes for a strong, tight grain with a good moisture content. The leather is further tanned using fats and greases which results in a product that is ready to use from the start. The leather is also "dyed through" meaning the hide is colored all the way through. Some companies put a color finish on their bridle leather and if you've ever had color bleed this is why. With the wide selection of colored hides Sedgwick has there is no need to darken the leather. With use the leather will darken but you can't take a light colored Sedgwick bridle and oil it to get it to a dark havana color. There are those that think you can strip the color off the leather so that it can then be oiled and darkened. You can't do this with dyed through leather and will once again ruin the leather if you attempt this. Other companies,  such as Edgewood, use a leather that has to be oiled to darken but they use a different leather. You can still over oil an Edgewood bridle and if you read any threads about Edgewood you'll see many comments about the leather stretching. Which brings me to my next point.

"What will happen if I over oil my bridle?" Well, its not good. Since the leather already has a high moisture count, adding more moisture through oiling creates too much moisture causing the leather to stretch and weaken due to the leather fibres being damaged. You cannot repair the damage once done. The leather will have a greasy feel as there will be a layer that sits on top, and it doesn't go away. I did an experiment a few years ago with some pieces where I dipped the leather in neats foot oil and let it sit for a few minutes. That little time in oil ruined the leather. It still has a greasy feel. When I hear of people putting their bridle pieces in plastic bags filled with oil I shudder.

Too much oil will also cause the leather to split wherever there is a raised portion. In order to insert the leather piece that creates the raised portion the leather has to be "skivved" a/k/a split in order to insert the piece. Better bridle companies only split the portion where the raised portion goes. After the leather piece is inserted the leather is glued down, stitched, rubbed and sealed. Better companies do this by hand. When you oil Sedgwick leather too much the oil can eat away the sealant and cause the leather to split and can also cause the glue to "leak". It is a common misconception that when this happens it's due to poor quality leather or workmanship when in fact it is the improper care of the tack by the owner that caused the leather to fail.

Why do we oil our bridles? In the case of Edgewood, the color that they come in has to be darkened and the leather they use takes oil nicely. In the case of better english leather there is simply no need to oil the tack before use. I have had many conversations with Sedgwick and they don't understand why we Americans are so fond of oil! I think much of the perceived need for oil is to break the leather in before use when actually the best way to soften the leather is to just go out and use it. Sedgwick leather requires very little time to "break in".  Their leather stretches less than other leather types due to it's tight grain. It has a stouter feel than other bridle leather before use but quickly softens up on it's own. It will have a feel unlike any other bridle which is a big reason why people love their Five Star Bridles. The soft leather used on other bridles may feel great out of the box but it will stretch more over time.

So if you've read this far, here are the instructions for maintaining your Five Star bridle:

1. After your ride simply wipe the tack with a damp cloth then go over it with glycerine or a mild conditioner being careful not to use too much water.
2. Stay away from any dark colored or heavy conditioners as they may darken the white stitching.
3. If the stitching gets dirty you can use castile soap to whiten it.
4. If the leather gets dry due to heat or sweat lightly oil the flesh side of the leather with a brush. It's better to do light coats than one heavy coat. If you need more than one coat, let the first one dry completely.
5. Keep your bridle in a climate controlled environment, away from direct heat.
6. If you live in a humid climate and don't have an air conditioned tack room it's best to keep your tack at home especially if it's not in use so that the tack doesn't get moldy.

The best advice I can give you is to go enjoy your Five Star Bridle! Keep it simple and you will be enjoying it for years.

For more information on caring for Sedgwick leather tack you can visit J&E Sedgwick. There is a wealth of information on their products as well as a video showing how the leather is prepared.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a customer!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Calling all models!

In my opinion, Five Star Tack has some of the most handsome models gracing the pages of Five Star Tack's website. The gorgeous Cavaldi has drawn more ooh's and aah's than I can count. His glistening coat, braided mane and of course his Five Star bridle have made him very popular apart from his status as a top eventing horse.

But, beyond the bright lights and fame of being a super model, there are many lesser known but equally as beautiful horses that wear Five Star bridles. Five Star Tack is looking for some of these "undiscovered" horses to grace the pages of! Some of our facebook fans have posted photos onto Five Star Tack's fan page but there are many more out there. 

If you would like your horse to be featured on Five Star's website I ask for the following:

  • A high-res photo of your horse in his/her Five Star bridle and/or breastplate. For obvious reasons I am not posting pictures of horses in bridles other than Five Star nor can I loan out bridles for photo shoots. In other words, your horse is currently using one of our bridles and/or breastplates. 
  • Close ups are better. You must have the rights to use the photo as we don't want to break any copyright laws. The photo can either be a head shot, one of your horse jumping, doing dressage, trail riding, whatever. 
  • Since your picture will be viewed by thousands of people, a shiny horse and clean tack is a must. I don't think this will be an issue since I'm sure our customers take excellent care of their horses and tack! Note: your horse does not have to be braided. I'm just fortunate to have someone to do it for me. 
  • You have the option of providing your full name, an abbreviation or not listing your name but please provide the name of your horse along with what his "specialty" is i.e. Jumper, novice level eventer, OTTB warhorse, upper level dressage horse, best trail horse ever, family member, etc. The choice is yours and you can be creative with your description. 
  • Lastly, why your horse is a "Five Star horse" which is basically a way of saying why you like Five Star Tack. 
Depending on the quality of photo and whether it's of a bridle that is in our current product line, your photo will either be placed on one of the product pages or on a Gallery page that will be added onto the website. Don't worry if your horse has a bridle from a past collection. It makes them no less important!

To submit your photo please email it to . If you are a facebook fan please post your photo there as well. If you have any questions feel free to send an email or post on facebook

While this is not a contest, it is running until the end of this month. You will be notified where your model will be featured. Product photos will be placed on the website in December with the Gallery page debuting in January. 

I look forward to adding many beautiful horses to the Five Star Tack stable of models!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Star Tack's Newest Five Star Rider!

Five Star Tack is pleased to announce sponsorship of Canadian three day eventing star Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch. Stephanie is a very talented and hard working young rider with a remarkable competition record.

She rides her sport horse gelding Port Authority who she purchased as a five year old back in 2005 from a show jumping barn as a prospect for the Young Riders Championships. She is a former working student of fellow Five Star rider Rebecca Howard. Rebecca coached Stephanie to the bronze medal at the Young Riders Championships in 2008. She then went to train with David O'Connor, head coach of the Canadian Eventing Team and continues to receive guidance from him today.

 Stephanie and Port Authority - Show jumping Rolex CCI****
Photo courtesy Lisa Barry

 Port Authority "Ollie", has that rare quality of being strong in all three phases in eventing. For a young rider, bringing along her own horse, they have beaten much more seasoned riders. She and Ollie competed at the Rolex Kentucky**** in 2010 and finished in fifth place! They finished on their dressage score of 52. Not only that, she was the youngest rider at Rolex and she also received the prestigious Best Conditioned Award. She was the highest placed Canadian and for being the highest placed rookie she received a HSBC training grant. Pretty amazing!

 Stephanie and Port Authority - Cross Country World Equestrian Games
Photo courtesy David Caruso

If that wasn't enough, Stephanie and Ollie were members of the Canadian Eventing squad at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. They were the highest placed Canadian rider after dressage with a 44.2 putting them in 17th place. With a clear cross country round and one rail down in show jumping the pair moved up to finish in 9th place individually and helped Canada to a team Silver medal!

This year she made the trip to England to compete at the Badminton Horse Trials and while she and Ollie did not have the results they had hoped for, it was a very educational experience for them. After some down time, Stephanie and Ollie will be competing again this summer with a goal of riding at the Fall Eventing Championships at Fair Hill International. This partnership is a top contender for the Canadian Team for next year's London Olympics!

Stephanie also has a few young horses she is bringing up the eventing ranks. Her horses will be wearing Five Star Tack's Waverly dressage bridles, Ainsley and Star bridles and Five Point Breastplates.
Show jumping at The World Equestrian Games

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Time For Bromont and Announcing a New Five Star Rider!

Montreal, Quebec is the site of the Bromont CCI being held this week. It was the location for the equestrian events from the 1976 Montreal Olympics where US rider Tad Coffin won the individual and team eventing gold medal on Bally Cor. It was also where parts of the movie International Velvet were filmed in 1978 and if you were a horse crazy kid back then like I was you were a fan of Tad Coffin and hung on every stride of International Velvet!

With so much history it's no wonder so many eventing riders dream of competing there. Five Star rider Doug Payne is competing on his Pan Am Games hopeful, Camerlingo and they are currently in second place in the one star, a mere four points off the lead. Doug uses Five Star bridles on all of his horses and when I say he uses them, he really uses them!

Speaking of Canada and eventing, we have a new Five Star sponsored rider to announce! Five Star Tack is pleased to announce that Canadian eventing rider Rebecca Howard is now a Five Star rider. Rebecca is a very accomplished and successful competitor. Riding Riddle Master she competed as an individual at last year's World Equestrian Games and finished tenth at this year's Rolex Kentucky 4 Star. She is riding Roquefort "Rocky" in the 2 Star at Bromont and is leading after dressage! She and Rocky have had a "rocky" couple of years. The pair suffered a fall at the beginning of 2010 and Rebecca was injured and out of the tack for awhile. They are making up for that down time with a wire to wire win in last month's Jersey Fresh 2 Star. She and Rocky are on the fast track to the Pan Am Games and we wish them the best of luck on their journey!

Rebecca is the head trainer at The Fork Fam in North Carolina, site of The Fork CIC and I can't think of a nicer place to train out of! She has a number of students who have gone on to have successful eventing careers of their own including Canadian rider Stephanie Rhodes - Bosch. She also has a number of horses she is bringing along. After her two star win at Jersey she was at the Virginia Horse Trials competing her novice level horses. Rebecca's long term goal is to represent Canada at the 2012 London Olympics. Competing at Bromont was a dream of Rebecca's when she was growing up in Canada as shown by this video courtesy of Samantha Clark of Eventing Nation.

This is Rebecca's winning dressage test from yesterday.

We wish Rebecca and Doug a successful weekend at Bromont!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

3,000 fans and a bit of an intro.

10% of all sales for the month of June will be donated to the 
True Prospect Farm Fire Recovery Fund
To aid three day event rider Boyd Martin and his connections
after the loss of six horses in a barn fire. 

Three thousand fans and counting! Okay so Smartpak has over 386,000 but hey it's better than none right? With so many new fans I thought it was a good time to introduce, or re-introduce as the case may be, Five Star Tack. We really aren't like anyone else and while comparisons will always be made it's important to know how we differ from many of our competitors.

To start, we are not the Walmart of tack stores carrying every brand at "low, low prices". Five Star Tack is more like that little boutique on a quiet street that has a small but great selection. Not too well known but well known by those in the know. Our products are not purchased from a distributor. They are designed right here in the US by yours truly. We don't order hundreds of each bridle nor do we make endless variations of the same type bridle. It's more like 30 to 50 of each bridle style and we make only a few styles on purpose so that as customer requests come in we can add or adjust the line as needed. When you call or email with a question you are talking to the actual designer of the product you are interested in. Can you name even one company where you get that kind of service and product knowledge?

Unlike most tack stores that carry the same strap good styles year in and year out (in other words boring), we follow apparel retailing and change styles yearly. What you see on our website may be here today but it may be carried in a new version in six months so if you like something now, it's best not to wait!

So really, what makes Five Star Tack different? Well, when you think of those little tiny companies where the owner is working out of their garage trying to fill orders, that's pretty close. We are a great example of when one door opens making another one open and of not being afraid to fail. Five Star Tack was going to originally be a place where you could buy the best brands of bridles and strap goods hence the name Five Star but not having an ongoing business as a tack store no one would let me open an account and this was pre-recession! So with encouragement from my partner I decided if I couldn't join them then I would do my own thing. Ah, that can-do American spirit! Little did I know what I was getting into.

Anyone who thinks that manufacturing and retailing is easy knows nothing about manufacturing and retailing. What goes into our price? For one thing our bridles are not mass produced. The english Sedgwick leather used for our strapgoods takes fourteen weeks to produce from start to finish. That is before it reaches the bridle maker. Then when it reaches our bridle maker, it takes six to eight weeks to make just a small order of 300 pieces as the majority of each product is made by hand. Then add two weeks for shipping and customs clearance and that's if there are no customs issues.

Correct bridle making is an art and there is no way to rush a top quality product to market. Our philosophy has always been to put quality before quantity and while it has meant that we don't have a continuous supply of products,  nor a big product line, I strongly believe in only letting the best products reach the customer and I will never compromise on this point. If I had my choice of having thirty exceptional bridles and one hundred quickly produced bridles I will always choose the former. In the rare instance where there has been a defect of some sort we have rectified it without question since humans are not machines. There are plenty of companies that can quickly produce hundreds of bridles that look the same as every other brand out there. It may not make the best business sense to make a few at a time, and I've lost lots of sleep worrying about it, but it is the way we operate and I like to think in the end it will work out for the best!

To be able to create a line of top quality bridles and strap goods has always been the goal but at the same time it had to serve as a vehicle to do something bigger. My late father took great pride in giving a portion of his income to charity. That is where the bridles with benefits program came into play. As a cancer survivor (not a badge I want to wear) I have always felt the obligation to give back as I received tremendous amounts of support at an extremely difficult time. Anyone who has stared down their own mortality or had their life turned upside down knows what I am talking about. So to pay it forward I wanted part of the bridle sales to go towards something besides earnings for me. We have donated a percentage of profits from day one to various charities engaged in cancer research and also to help horses in need. This has been before any profit has been actually earned which for a small company I think is pretty good!

We have gone from being a tiny internet company to selling to high end tack stores. I wish it could be one of those fairy tales where one goes from tiny business to being "discovered" and becoming THE brand everyone wants to carry but as much as people want to try something new they want to stay in their comfort zone. To be able to live outside of one's comfort zone is one of the most liberating things a person can experience and I have cancer to thank for that. Unfortunately I don't find too many people who have had the same experience. For them it's about how they have done things in the past no matter whether it was the right way to do business. Five Star Tack is about customers who are not afraid to try something new, who don't want to look like everyone else, and who don't want to maintain the status quo. In today's retail environment maintaining the status quo is a business model that is going to fail and when I speak to tack stores who are afraid try something new because their strap goods aren't selling I scratch my head in disbelief. If you are only going to sell the same products as everyone else how do you expect to sell anything when you know that customers are going to buy from whoever has the lowest price?

So where does this rambling post end? It ends with you the customer for without you Five Star Tack will not survive. We do our best to help each customer purchase the best fitting, best quality bridle for their horse. As a long time horse owner and competitive rider I know the importance of having tack that not only performs but lasts. Good tack should have longevity. You shouldn't buy a bridle and be happy that it hasn't broken in a few years or worse yet have one that falls apart after a few years. Good bridles are good investments.

To tie things up, Five Star Tack is about beautiful, high performing bridles and strap goods that no one else designs and who gives back to the community through donating to cancer organizations and thoroughbred rehoming organizations. I hope you will stick with us and help us grow to be more than a tiny company and to thank you for reading this far I offer you forty percent off of your next purchase between May 30th and June 5th! Simply enter the code forty at checkout.

I truly appreciate each and every one of you for becoming a fan, a customer and sending pictures of your   horse in their Five Star bridle and I hope you will continue to join us on our journey! I am truly fortunate to be given this opportunity and while I'm not sure where it will end up, since I don't have that proverbial crystal ball, I promise it won't be boring!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Musings on The Fork CIC

This past weekend I had the good fortune to attend The Fork CIC 3 Star in North Carolina. It was a much anticipated trip and with my gal pals Wendy and Vicki we were off to the airport at 4:15 am!

We arrived bleary eyed (at least I was) but were greeted by warm sunny skies, much better than the cold rain back home in PA. It was a who's who of riders and it was fun to see so many up close, many wearing their barn's "team" jacket. It was an impressive turnout of riders, many using it as a final outing before Rolex. The Fork is an amazing farm and the turf used for the cross country was foot perfect, due to it being maintained all year for this event. To have the opportunity to gallop across the fields is a special one and I can see why riders look forward to competing there. Canadian Team rider Rebecca Howard is lucky to have this as her farm to work out of!

Unfortunately the cold and rainy weather in Pennsylvania found us as Saturday dawned cloudy, cold and damp. Not the weather we were expecting but good for the horses. We walked cross country on Friday in order to avoid the crowd of thousands that we heard were coming in for Saturday. That would be the crowd that never materialized. Maybe they were at the Azalea Festival along with the wine bar that was supposed to be on course? Disappointing, but the lack of spectators meant we were able to claim an unused tent right next to the water complex as our own "VIP" section. It was a real treat to be able to see so many quality horses and riders gallop through the water complex and the good ones made it look easy.
Five Star rider Doug Payne and Camerlingo. Doug has one of the best riding styles out there and dare I say George Morris would love his following hand!
Phillip Dutton on Isabella, a beautiful jumping mare.

Five Star rider Kristin Schmolze on Castle Jordan getting their season underway.

The really interesting part was watching chef d'equipe Capt. Mark Phillips, "The Captain" observing the riders as he was often parked right in front of us. We quickly found out who was on his list to watch. If you were an important rider than he would speed past us on his golf cart to watch as much of the ride as possible. For a somewhat important rider he would slowly drive from one side of the water complex to see the rider as they looped back past the water complex and well, let's just say if you weren't important you didn't get a passing glance. 

"The Captain" between fly-bys. Is he catching a nap? 

Sunday dawned gray again but we were in for another display of good riding. It was show jumping day for the two star and three star riders. It was a classic Sally Ike designed course with alot of turning and technical questions. You needed not just a horse with good jumping style but one who's stride was easily adjustable. You can tell many of the riders are getting coaching from show jumping riders. At the end of the day it was Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda who won the three star. Doug and Camerlingo won one of the Intermediate divisions which I believe was the horse's first outing at that level!
Doug and Camerlingo on their way to a win in the Intermediate division! Camerlingo is wearing Five Star Tack's Chelsea bridle and Five Point breastplate. 
It is a shame though that more people don't come out to these big events as there is so much that can be learned from watching good riding. When you think of what it costs to audit a clinic with a big name rider the cost of admission to one of these events is nominal. There is always something more we can learn. Ask any one of these riders and they will tell you they are constantly working to improve their riding. Watching the skill of many of these riders and horses should inspire all of us to learn more and ride better no matter what level we ride at.
I love this shot of Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister. He has the most gorgeous tail!

We were sad to see our weekend end so quickly but as they say, "time flies when you're having fun!"

Let's just say what happens at The Fork stays at The Fork!
Next stop, Jersey Fresh!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Catching up with Five Star Riders

As the snow and cold weather of this winter begin to lessen, the competition season is heating up! Those riders fortunate to head South for the winter are either in Aiken, Ocala or Wellington. Amanda Flint is in Ocala with her jumpers as well as her clients and both are having a very good circuit at HITS. Amanda always has a promising string of young horses in training and they have all had top placings in the young jumper classes so far. You will be sure to see some of these horses at the top of the year end Young Jumper and Jumper Futurity standings. Chinedine PPZ, Marquis, Ladonna, Super G and Super Bad have all successfully moved up to the next level of Young Jumper competition with two wins each for Marquis and Ladonna. In addition Texas Hold Em has had wins in both the meter forty and meter forty five prixe!

The two competitions in every advanced level event rider's mind this year are the PanAm Games and the 2012 Olympics. Doug Payne has two very promising horses that he is carefully aiming towards these two events. After winning virtually every Preliminary level event he contested last year, Crown Talisman has moved up to the Intermediate level and is making it look easy. The Pan Am Games are a two star level (Intermediate) competition and I think Doug and "Tali" will be top contenders for the US team! Doug's other star Running Order has just started his competition season after a successful trip to last year's Boekelo Three Star Event in Holland as part of the US squad. While maybe not as naturally gifted as Tali, "RO" is a game and gutsy horse and has been steadily improving his dressage. If you've ever watched the advanced level dressage test, you know it's not easy for an event horse! Doug is hoping to complete a Four Star event at the end of the season, with an eye on the London Olympics. As one of the busier riders on the eventing circuit, Doug always has several young horses he is bringing along and finishing in the top standings with. Doug is always mindful of how his horses are feeling and always puts their needs first even if it means not winning on that day. I hope the eventing "Gods" will bless Doug with good luck this year!

Meanwhile, Kristin Schmolze is waiting to hear back to see if her entry was accepted for the Badminton CCI Four Star! Kristin and Cavaldi were third at last year's Fair Hill International Three Star Championships. She and "Joey" have successfully contested Rolex Kentucky and Burghley and it has been a dream of hers to compete at Badminton. How cool is it to have that dream and have it become reality! While he can be fresh in the dressage, Joey excels on cross country and I always enjoy watching him go as you can see how much he loves going cross country. He is not a big horse but he makes those massive jumps look easy! I am keeping my fingers crossed for them to get to go to Badminton.

Kate Samuels, our youngest Five Star rider, had a very successful entry into the advanced level last year with Nyls du Terrior and she is just getting started with this season. They had a very good first outing last week at Pine Top at the Intermediate level. Kate and Nyls have climbed the levels together and she hopes to one day ride Nyls in the Rolex Kentucky CCI Four Star. She will spend this year getting more mileage at the Advanced level with Nyls. Kate was named to the "B" list of the Developing Riders program and will benefit from training with Team Coach Mark Phillips.

Five Star Tack has a new eventing rider that we will be sponsoring beginning this Spring. I'll have more about that soon.

That's it for now. I hope wherever you are the sun is shining and it's a good day to ride!

Monday, February 7, 2011

AETA Wrap Up

While it's been a snowy winter, the weather cooperated just long enough for the AETA trade show. When you think of the money spent to have a booth along with the hours spent organizing everything for the trade show, the last thing you want is a blizzard! Fortunately Murphy's Law was not in effect for the weekend but sure enough, the second the show was over another storm barreled in.

After a not so great show back in August I was really looking forward to this time as I was in a prime location. Being put in "Western World" the last time was the kiss of death. Instead of potential customers I got people asking me to either stamp their Western Passport, or why I wound up there. To say I was demoralized was an understatement but, as they say nothing happens by chance and perhaps I just wasn't ready for prime time. Lucky for me, this time that was not the case and I have to thank the people at Hopper Expositions for remembering what happened and making things right.

It was great to be able to show the tack to so many people and to articulate the passion I have for what I do and for what the company stands for. To have people come up and tell you the good things they have heard about the tack and the charity work Five Star does makes me think I am on the right track. The best comment was from someone who I asked what new and exciting things they had seen and they said, "your bridles". Thank you!

While I sometimes felt like I was at a pony club inspection, I enjoyed being peppered with questions about the construction of the tack. The Wembley integrated crown hunter bridle was very popular along with the Ascot figure eight. The new halter was ordered and the new Symphony bridles sold as well. I was not going to bring the Signature elastic breastplate with me as that is one of the eventing pieces but I was glad I did as everyone who placed an order purchased a few of them. So all in all a very successful outing! 

So at the end of a long day of standing and with adrenaline running on empty what do you do? You go across the aisle to visit your neighbor for their cosmos and crudites happy hour! 

While there wasn't much time to walk around and see the many vendors what I can tell you is that performance fabrics are in. I saw alot of this at the Spoga show last fall and it's really taken off over here.   Ariat had a huge presence and were debuting the sneaker style riding boot that they had at Spoga. I wonder how it will sell as the Nike and Tretorn boots of a few years back never took off. There were lots of saddles with interesting accent stitching and new styles of helmets with their own design accents. 

It was interesting to note that the quality of the strap good leather of many companies has gone down hill. I touch EVERYTHING and I was surprised by some of the companies cutting corners in this area. This is one area where Five Star Tack shines as I had so many store owners bemoan the fact that it is getting harder to buy quality bridles because of all the cheap quality leather being used. The tack stores know this but I wonder if the average consumer is aware of what they are buying. It puts the stores in a difficult spot because buyers too often look at the price and don't know what it costs to make a top quality bridle so it forces the stores to buy down in quality. Fortunately I think our Symphony line will give those stores a quality alternative. Plus with our fresh and unique designs it brings some life back to store displays as the bridle designs displayed by many companies at AETA was a total yawn. 

I am very thankful to the tack stores that signed on to become dealers of our products!  I look forward to growing the number of dealers selling Five Star Tack but will limit the number of stores so that each dealer feels they can differentiate themselves from other stores. If one of these stores is near you I hope you will support them. 

Bit of Heaven Tack Shop, Collegeville PA; Bits of Tack, Boyertown, PA; DaMoor's Feed & Tack, Glendale, CA; The Tack Box, Middleburg, VA; Green Valley Tack, Pine Island, NY; Alta Hills Tack, Sandy, UT; Gallops Saddlery, Tigard, OR; Unionville Saddle Shop, Unionville, PA; and Barrington Saddlery, Barrington, IL. 

The above tack stores will be carrying Five Star's hunter/jumper bridles, dressage bridle, the Symphony line as well as strap goods. These items can be viewed at We will put you in contact with one of our dealers if the item you want is not available near you. 

Five Star's eventing bridles and strap goods will be carried and sold direct to consumers on as well as at select eventing competitions during the year. 

Thank you for reading this far as it is a long post but there is always something new and exciting going on here. Next up, two new initiatives with proceeds going to the charities Five Star Tack supports! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Products!

One of the best things about designing tack is getting to see the finished product! These are the latest additions to our product line and arrived today. Some will only be available through tack stores, some will be available on the Five Star website and some need a bit more tweaking to get them just right. These are also the first photos of our new Symphony line of bridles. Symphony bridles are made with Wickett&Craig American leather and are a moderately priced option for the rider who likes the quality of our Five Star bridles but needs a more affordable option.

This is the updated version of our popular Chelsea bridle. The cross straps are padded as well as raised with fancy stitching. It is super sharp looking and will be available on our website.
 Above is a new breastcollar design we are working on. It needs a little tweaking as it is not quite fancy enough yet although I do like the cross. As popular as the Five Points are, alot of riders use this type of breastcollar. It is just hard to find an all leather one hence why we are making one. It will be up to the task of performing under all conditions and look good at the same time!

 This is a BLACK Wembley HUNTER bridle we made up for a customer along with a matching standing martingale. It was purchased for a black horse and I think it is going to look stunning! I applaud this rider for not being afraid to have her own look in the hunter ring. The Wembley hunter bridle with integrated crown is available through tack stores.
This dressage girth is what I've been waiting for! It is so much nicer than what the picture shows. It is beautifully stitched and features our silver cross with raised padding underneath. The white stitching really enhances it although dressage purists may not go for it.

This is our new hunter girth. It is softly padded and has a ring to attach training aids. Available through tack stores.

This is a totally luxe halter and lead for the horse who has everything! It is quite pricey made up with Sedgwick's leather but I will try to source out a different leather to keep the price down. The crown strap is padded and has fancy stitching on top. The noseband is padded and raised with fancy stitching. The cross piece is what really sets this halter apart. The fittings are solid brass. The matching lead has a loop handle that is padded and has an embossed cross on it. As pretty as this halter is it is built tough to withstand what we all know horses can do!

New dressage bridle for the tack stores. It has all black stitching and buckle end cheeks with an integrated crown. We will have a different version of this on the Five Star site that will be the redo for the Magnolia bridle as we have had alot of requests to bring it back.

This is one of our new Symphony bridles made from Wickett & Craig American leather making it a more affordable option for buyers who like our designs but cannot afford the pricier Sedgwick bridles. It features an integrated crown, attached flash and white accent stitching. The final version will have buckle end cheeks instead of the hook stud shown here. Available in tack stores only.

Another Symphony bridle, this is our jumper bridle with integrated crown. The cross straps are padded and raised and the rings are padded behind. I think this one is going to be popular. This one gets its own look as the nosedisk is a bit different from our Five Star bridles. Tack stores only.

There will also be a Symphony hunter bridle with matching standing martingale but I am still waiting on it. Tack stores only.

I am looking forward to showing these new products at the upcoming AETA trade show! As always I appreciate your feedback on these and any of our products.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let's Get The Ball Rollin'!

The New Year always seems to start off with a bang for me and for the last several years not in a good way. As I watched Snooki (yes, that Snooki) being lowered to the Seaside Heights Boardwalk I decided that this year was going to be different as there are many good things happening and one of those good things is Five Star Tack.

Never content to sit still, we have a number of new things coming up in the next few months. The biggest shift will be in our website presence. As we grow our reach into more tack stores the inevitable conflict of interest between selling to both brick and mortar stores and selling direct to customers becomes an issue and a constraining one at that. Starting February, after the AETA winter trade show, Five Star will be debuting a dealer only website featuring our hunter bridles with matching strap goods plus our new dressage bridle, a new moderately priced line of bridles and our new girth and halter!

Speaking of girths and halters, I have seen the samples of these and they are nothing short of gorgeous! They incorporate Five Star's celtic cross and elastic colors and are totally luxe. I am confident they will be a big hit with the tack stores. These items along with our hunter bridles will be available only through tack stores and hence will no longer be listed on the Five Star Tack website.

That leaves me to concentrate on developing the eventing and jumper side of the business on the current Five Star Tack website which I enjoy because it allows me to be more creative with the design process. Our Chelsea bridle will have a new figure eight design, the Ascot will have an integrated crown option and we will have a new version of our old Magnolia bridle that will have a narrower noseband and for those dressage purists all black stitching! There is also a new rein that we hope is popular with eventing riders for cross country as well as a leather breastcollar and hunting breastplate.

We are committed to recognizing the amateur rider and will be continuing our sponsorship of the USEA's Training Level 3 Day Series. We will also be targeting those eventing competitions that have a large amateur attendance for sponsorship as well. Going forward though, Five Star Tack, has to be more selective in sponsorship of riders and competitions. It is a great concept to try to help out any time a sponsorship opportunity presents itself but in the end it is just not realistic nor does it make good business sense. It's nice to be nice but it's not nice when you are broke in the end!

That said, there is one opportunity I stumbled upon just recently that I think has some real importance. Five Star Tack made a donation of thirty five bridles to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and CANTER USA to be used in their retraining programs of retiring thoroughbred racehorses. There is quite a great need for tack for these horses and I imagine with similar organizations working to rescue, retrain and find homes for various horses; more than I thought. In order to make a greater impact Five Star is looking into developing a program to accept donations of used bridles and strap goods to then be sent to an organization that is in need. By organization I mean a registered charity as I made that mistake once this year and I don't think the money went where it was supposed to go! Georgina Bloomberg does this with The Rider's Closet, an organization she established to accept used riding clothes that are then provided to riders who can't afford to buy show clothes. We are just at the idea point right now so if anyone has any suggestions I am open to them.

It is great to look back at 2010 and the many fun times I had at all the competitions, especially Burghley, but it's even greater to be able to look forward to the positive things that are out there on the horizon. Let's get this party started!

p.s. here are two links to articles about the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and one of the facilities that is receiving Five Star bridles.