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Equine enterprise 

The human olfactory system recognizes approximately 10,000 different scents. Those distinguishable odors include: garlic and onions simmering in butter; sandalwood; rain in summer; and horse sweat. OK, OK; so maybe sweatus eqqus is an acquired fondness. But, even the most urban of cowboys can appreciate the deeply savory aroma of well-oiled leather. Whether you ride horses or fences, you have to admit that a barn—a bouquet of pine shavings, molasses, alfalfa hay, and leather oil—is a smell that settles the nerves.

click to enlarge PLETHORA OF LEATHER :  At The Tack Room in Paso Robles, Laurie Ridgeway showcases many of her products available for all you cowboys and cowgirls out there. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PLETHORA OF LEATHER : At The Tack Room in Paso Robles, Laurie Ridgeway showcases many of her products available for all you cowboys and cowgirls out there.

The Tack Room is one place you can go to satisfy your desire for barnyard smells (without some of those other barnyard smells). Owned by Laurie Ridgeway and her mother Kathy Rutsky, The Tack Room is the North County’s newest horse tack and livestock feed store. The idea of opening a store cropped up about seven years ago, after the birth of Ridgeway’s second daughter. Ridgeway and her family were living in the Ventura area and they found themselves considering a change in lifestyle. When they relocated to Paso Robles, they began to feel out the local equestrian community; if they were going open a store, they wanted to find a niche.

The Tack Room offers lots of products and brands not available from other local tack and feed stores. They offer supplements (that’s vitamins for horses) from up-and-coming East Coast companies, and carry California-milled livestock feeds. Their foods and treats for dogs and cats are all made in the United States.

With a lifetime of experience in training, breeding, and raising horses, a tack and feed store was a natural venture for Ridgeway. However, she met a few unexpected obstacles during the initial process.

“I didn’t realize it would take four months,” she said, reminiscing about all the footwork that had to be done with utility companies and city ordinances. “I thought we’d open in two weeks.”

Even if owning a small business keeps one off the couch and running full-steam for weeks on end, Ridgeway is excited for the future of the store.

“I like horse people. I like meeting people from the area and talking to them about their horses,” she said, adding that she’s met more people in the first two weeks of the store’s opening than she has in the four years since she moved to the area.

Perhaps there is something just a tad more down-to-earth about horse folk that makes them so personable. Animals of all shapes and sizes teach humans valuable interpersonal skills; but horses, perhaps because of their size and strength, offer something a cat or dog can’t. For Ridgeway, one of the things she’s learned from working with horses is patience. And that there is more than one way to do everything.

“I’ve probably broke over 250 horses, and I did it a little bit differently every time,” she said.

The Tack Room is an enterprise of passion. Ridgeway and Rutsky aren’t looking to strike it rich; they’re really just looking to make a living while providing a valuable service to the community: quality products at affordable prices. They offer discounts to 4H and FFA members, and are always looking for quality, used horse tack to sell.

Visit The Tack Room at 2425 Golden Hill Road, Suite 104 in Paso Robles; located in the Lowes shopping center off Hwy 46, between Subway and UPS. Like them on Facebook ( or visit

Fast fact

Throughout April, Make-A-Wish chapters throughout the country are holding a campaign to collect airline miles for wishes that involve travel. To donate miles to Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, go to The organization reports: “Through a matching grant from Make-A-Wish America, miles donated through the website during April 2013 will be matched 1:1 up to 1 million miles!” For more information on other ways to help, visit

Contributor Ana Korgan compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your nonprofit and business news to

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