Rusty Stirrup

The Happiest Place on Earth

I flew south to Florida this week to spend my valuable vacation t

By: Rusty Stirrup |

I managed to find time to go for a quick ride while on my vacation.

I managed to find time to go for a quick ride while on my vacation.

I flew south to Florida this week to spend my valuable vacation time in the happiest place on Earth. No, not Disneyworld – Dover! It seems a little silly to be so irrationally excited to be hitting up tack stores across the border, but I have to admit it was a highlight of my trip. My sister Jen (Luc’s owner) and I blocked off an entire day of our vacation to travel to various tack stores around Orlando.

While it isn’t exactly the horse mecca that Wellington, or even Ocala, is, the three tack stores we visited certainly satisfied the horse addict in me – at least temporarily. We started off at Dover, and I was pleasantly surprised with what we found. There were tons of great brands and items we can’t get back home. If the exchange rate hadn’t been so terrible (lowest Canadian dollar in more than 11 years!) I would have come back with a suitcase or two full of clothes for me and tack for Luc.

The second store we visited had some very unique items as well. The tack selection was HUGE with a saddler on site busy making custom orders and doing repairs while we wandered around. I managed to once again keep my wallet in check and came away with only a few treats for Luc – because you can’t leave him for a week and not come back baring bribes. The delicious looking horse cookies have bits of peppermint in some of them, and pieces of dried apple in others. I’m pretty sure Luc won’t have a preference, as he eats everything so quickly I doubt he’ll have time to savour the flavours.

Our third and final tack store was a bit further of a trek than the first two, but it was worth the added drive time. Saddler of Orlando, which claims to be the largest tack store in central Florida, had just about everything under the sun – including some stunning jumps. I absolutely feel head over heels in love with one of their jump sets, a lovely faux stone wall with matching wingback standards. It was light enough it could be hauled around by one person easily, but heavy enough that it wouldn’t blow away in the wind. Even with the very reasonable price tag, I had to leave it behind. I think the shipping costs would have been just a tad too high – not to mention the fact that since I don’t have my own farm I’d have to find somewhere to store it as well!

Apart from horse-related shopping sprees, I did also manage to get in some riding. I rode a Hippogriff and a flying broom at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a must for any fan of the books or movies), a manta ray at SeaWorld and a flying elephant and overly decorated carousel horse at Disneyworld. The horse, a grey of course, was even harder to get on than Luc! Even with the steps up I still had to work hard to haul myself into the tiny plastic saddle. As for the ride, while I didn’t have to use as much leg as I do with Luc to get him moving, it was far choppier than I’m used to. All that up and down, up and down. No forward impulsion or engagement at all.

After more than a week away from Luc I’m ready to get back to the barn and give him some love. It’s amazing how quickly and how fiercely you miss your four-legged friends when you’re away.