BONNERS FERRY — There are many residents in Boundary County who own at least one horse. In this county, there are groups of people who either host or coordinate activities to bring local horse owners together.
Local horse owners, both veteran and novice, know that finding the proper equipment can be challenging. Saddles, bridles, halters, lead ropes, and saddle blankets are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to properly equipping a horse for riding. That is not to mention equipping the rider with the proper attire for not only daily riding, but in competitions.
Horseback riding can be both an exhilarating experience and a challenging one. Safety on horseback is similar to safety on a bicycle in the fact that wearing protective gear such as a helmet is important. Having the correct footwear — boots with a small heel, such as ‘cowboy’ boots — can help keep a rider from being caught up in the stirrups during a fall.
Boundary County horse owners and riders have had to travel south to the larger communities in order to obtain the proper equipment for themselves and their horses. The need to travel has been nullified with the introduction of the Barking Saddle, owned by Jesse and Lori Marble, which opened Feb. 17 in downtown Bonners Ferry.
“We have a lot of locally made products like bracelets, things from ‘Out of the Woodwork,’ which is local, we plan to get the ‘Farm to Market’ grains in here, which is also local, and some huckleberry products from a seller in Sandpoint,” said Lori Marble. “We just wanted a place where local people could sell products, as well as provide the community a place to go to get these kind of things without having to go out of town.”
Prices of horse tack can be steep, but at the Barking Saddle, their goal is to keep the prices reasonable, and offering consignment options helps horse owners around the county in a large way.
“Our main goal is to have a place for community members to come to get their western wear, or their country gifts, that is not outrageously expensive, and that’s from local businesses,” said Lori Marble.
The Marbles are also involved with the local horse 4-H club, and have plans to help the kids in any way they can, including keeping product prices low with a 10 percent discount for 4-H members.
“We wanted something for the 4-H kids to have a reasonable place to bring their gently used show clothes and tack in order to gain newer and more fitting attire, utilizing the consignment option,” said Lori Marble.
They are also looking into providing prizes for the 4-H kids during fair time, such as belt buckles and saddle blankets.
“That’s our biggest thing, we want to support the local kids,” said Lori Marble.
With the store being so new, there are plans in motion in the regard of expanding the inventory, such as carrying name brand clothing, accessories, and boots.
“We will get some new show style clothing from Hobby Horse, and there are many community members that have gently used, basically brand new clothing that can be used as consignment,” said Marble. “We are trying to make equipping both horse and rider affordable.”
Along with clothing, boots, tack, and decor, the Barking Saddle carries children’s toys as well. One of the toys is a bouncy bull, and one could buy an NFR bucking chute for little cowboys and cowgirls to practice their rodeo skills. There are other western themed toys for children, as well as clothing and boots that may fit perfectly on a ranch hand in progress.
“We have a little bit of everything, and are open to suggestions because it is up to the customers as to what they want to see in here,” said Lori Marble.
In the Boundary County community, people are generous in showing their support to other community members, including the members in the military. The Barking Saddle also shows their support for the members of the military with not only a 10 percent discount, but a wall dedicated to pictures of local military members of all types, called the Heroes Wall.
Lori Marble grew up with horses and has been involved in showing and competing in various forms of the equine arts. She was introduced and encouraged by her mother over the years to accomplish her goals.
“I don’t want to retire from a job I don’t like. I want to do something that I like and love and have the passion for,” said Marble. “Luckily I was able to do something like this so I can enjoy what I want to do, I can help the community, I can be involved in things that I want without having the time restriction of a 9-to-5 job. My mom would tell me do what you want to do in your life, so I did it.”
With the introduction of the Barking Saddle to the community, the Marbles not only accomplished a goal, but are willing to help community members achieve theirs as well.
For more information, visit www.barkingsaddle.com