Today is Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Riders, cowboys giddy-up at new tack store

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“I also like events and wanted a way to offer 4-H and FFA kids a place to have meetings, and we could teach them how to show animals from horses and cattle to dogs, goats and sheep. We also plan to hold blacksmith and veterinary demonstrations here over the next few months,” the horsewoman said.  Hadlock came by her love for all things horsey through her bloodline. Her mother grew up on a Michigan farm where they kept American Saddlebred horses and registered Shorthorn cattle.

“We (she and her siblings) had the benefit of her raising and doing the same thing: working with and showing horses and raising beef heifers while we were involved in 4-H, FFA and the American Quarter Horse Association,” said Hadlock, who began riding at 4 on a pony.   

After graduating from high school, she worked for eight years at Tennessee Saddlery in Brentwood where she met her husband, a saddle maker. “That’s where the love for this type of business came from,” she said.

“I came to Lebanon a year-and-a-half ago for a job. I met the people who owned this business (then known as Volunteer Team Roping Supply). They closed Dec. 31, 2010, but I had worked part time for them in November and December. I fell in love with this business and dreamed we could have a nice tack shop here.”

Thus, she plowed ahead and opened her own store in the 11,000-square-foot building, which has a bit of livestock history emanating from the cellar.

“There is an underground spring that flows in the basement. Years ago there was a watering trough there, and that was where they used to water mules before they were auctioned off on the town square during mule days,” Hadlock recalled.

The store holds just about everything a horse and rider could want. That includes bits, bridles, boots, strap goods, saddle blankets, ropes, horse care products, new and used show clothing for Western and English, cowhide rugs, turquoise jewelry, bling bling belts and unique leather bags.

“They’re the only ones all the way from Crossville to Nashville who carry the product you need,” said customer Kimberly Bush of Carthage last week. “This is the only store that has the Western protective vest [for Alex, 4, her son who competes in the Middle Tennessee Pro Rodeo mutton bustin’ event (riding sheep)].”

And then there are the saddles and more saddles.

“I love saddles: English and Western saddles, and being married to a saddle maker for a long time you get to learn a lot about saddles,” Hadlock said.(An English saddle is a flat seat saddle, while Western saddles have a horn.)

“We have about 30 saddles, new and used, with prices that run from $200 to $3,200. A lot of families come in and can’t afford a $2,000 saddle, so they buy a $200 saddle and then later come back and trade in and up,” said Hadlock, who allows consignment on clothes and saddles for women, men and children in Western and English styles.

“We are just a real deal Western tack shop. This is the stuff the real cowboys use out West,” said Store Manager Justin Boswell, a 2005 Lebanon High grad, who always wears a Stetson and a grin and knows his way around horses and cattle.  

Also helping out with chores around the store are Judi Gottier-Harpring, Chuck Harpring and Hannah Agee, a Lebanon High grad who attends West Texas A&M where she competes on the equestrian team.

Perhaps the coolest perk for those who walk or ride the Western way is the all-day Monday availability of custom leatherworker Brandon Nohr, who repairs saddles and tack, among other equestrian leather goods, or makes it from scratch. Nohr does his thing from the front window from 9 to 5 at a high table, while Hagen, his blue healer, parks nearby.

It can be a treat to simply watch Nohr transform leather into utilitarian purposes as he brandishes stamping tools, cutting tools, leather mauls, knives and hole punchers.

“The thing I enjoy most is making something you can use. I don’t want to make something to hang on the wall. I enjoy making gear the rider can use,” Nohr said. “Most of the stuff I make is cowboy gear that the ranching cowboy would work with every day.”Living in Mt. Juliet, Nohr, 29, relocated from Castle Rock, Colo., five years ago to pursue a recording contract. 

“Music is the only reason I came to Middle Tennessee,” said Nohr, who was advised by the manager of a famed Nashville act, “If this is what you’re gonna do, then this is where you gotta be. Nobody is gonna come looking for you.”

He writes and sings rodeo cowboy music and also does covers of such performers as the late Chris LeDoux, George Strait and Willie Nelson. Nohr and his Riata Red Band recently played the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Working with leather since he was 16, Nohr also trains horses and gives riding lessons and is nurturing the idea of returning to pro rodeo where he rode bulls and bareback horses from 18 to 28. “I haven’t had enough, and I’m starting to think about riding saddle bronc horses,” said the sure-nuff cowboy. (Check out more on Nohr at his Web site: www.brandonnohr.com.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch store, Hadlock confesses, “I love the Western lifestyle and love the Southwestern furniture.”

Indeed, the proof is in the products she offers, such as a Grand Rancho chair made of cowhide and decorated every which way with horns from a longhorn or two or three.

In fact, in the back room, mounted on a wall are the heads of a buffalo and a Texas Longhorn, and for $3,000 and $2,500, respectively, they can be hanging in your den. 

Hadlock’s shop also stands out as a place that sells the goods of more than a dozen Wilson County artisans who work with their hands as much as their minds. “I’m really proud to have a place for local craftsmen to sell their wares,” she said about wood carvings, jams and jellies, leather gift items, wrought-iron horseshoes, reclaimed wood furniture, tree-stump furniture and even wagons and buggies that Fred Drew can repair or build.

Stockman Supply tries to make things cozy for cowboys while they are off the range. A room corner boasts a small library of books and videos about horses and cattle. In the midst of the shop hangs a sign that says “My Barn, My Rules,” while the indoor outhouses are marked Cowboy and Cowgirl.

Cowboy coffee and soft drinks are free from the chuck wagon, and galoots are welcome to settle down on a leather couch (no boots on the furniture, please) and chew the fat or palaver for a while. So saddle up your favorite horse and gallop on in. Just remember to check your spurs at the door.

Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at kbtag2@gmail.com.

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