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HORSES : The Thrifty Horse Resale Shop Outfits Riders for Less

February 11, 1993|DARLENE RICKER | Darlene Ricker, a Laguna Beach attorney, practices equine law. She is the author of several books on horsemanship.

During a recession, how can you pursue an expensive hobby such as horseback riding? The same way some people cope with household needs: Go to a thrift shop.

The Thrifty Horse, a consignment shop in Costa Mesa, caters to the horsey set. It features economical new and recycled clothing for the rider and saddlery for the horse.

Owner Mary Schroeder takes pride in helping her customers cut the high cost of horsemanship. "It makes sense to recycle, whether you're just beginning with horses or getting out of the sport," she said.

"Recycling" works this way: Those with horse equipment to sell take it to Schroeder, who displays it for resale at an agreed-upon price. When someone buys the item, Schroeder takes a commission (20% on saddles and 30% for other items) and pays the balance to the owner.

Some of her regular customers are already on their "second round" of recycling. For example, a family purchased a hunt coat last season for the daughter, who has since outgrown it. This month they brought the jacket back to Schroeder for resale and bought a replacement in the next size.

Schroeder knows firsthand how expensive a hobby riding can be. She and her family own five horses and board them in Orange Park Acres, where they enjoy trail riding and competing in Western pleasure-riding shows. Their horses are an eclectic group: an Arab show horse, a Missouri fox-trotter, a palomino mustang, a Peruvian paso and an appaloosa pony.

Her shop is equally diverse. "It's like peeking around in your grandmother's attic for hidden treasures," said one shopper. Those treasures range from about 100 saddles to dozens of bridles, blankets, bits and other pieces of horse equipment. For the rider, the shop has racks of new and used clothing--some of which, such as snazzy leather boots and jackets, attract non-horsey shoppers in search of fashion wear. There are even horse-related antiques, such as an authentic U.S. cavalry bugle made of copper and brass ($150).

Schroeder enjoys helping customers search for the right item. "This is a vocation and an avocation at the same time," she said. "I never know on any given day what (items) will turn up here. Some customers stop in once a week just to see what's new."

Some examples of price savings on recycled stock on a recent day included: Marlborough dress riding boots ($55; new $250); custom-made Vogel field boots ($435; new $700); rare elephant-hide cowboy boots ($225; new $450); Pytchley hunt jacket ($115; $300 new); Harry Hall riding breeches ($69.95; $140 new); a complete Hobby Horse Western pleasure and show outfit for the rider ($300 to 400; new $700); Crosby Prix des Nations jumping saddle with stirrups and leathers ($450; new 750-850).

If what a customer wants is not in the shop, Schroeder will add the requested item to her "wish list" file, which she uses to match potential buyers and sellers.

A monthly flyer that lists specials can be picked up at the shop or at many local stables.

The Thrifty Horse

* 2230-B Fairview St., Costa Mesa.

* (714) 646-8215.

* Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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