By DOUG GRAVES
LEBANON, Ohio — Lauren Hughes of Parkersburg, W.Va., purchased a two-horse trailer from Kevin McKinney of Sardinia, Ohio. Delbert Green of Monticello, Ind., swapped a worn saddle for two pair of riding boots and miscellaneous bridle from Kevin Albers of Stanton, Mich.
And Steve Baver of Livingston, Tenn., wanted to buy some fancy riding apparel for his daughter, so he purchased five sequined shirts from Nancy Holland of Maysville, Ky.
Though many miles and several states apart, these buyers and sellers were among the estimated 4,000 who attended the 33rd annual Great Tack Exchange last month in Lebanon.
“We started out small, using a tiny building here at the Warren County Fairgrounds,” said Catherine Estill, tack exchange coordinator and member of the Ohio Horsemen’s Council of Warren County. “People don’t want to head to the nearest tack shop and pay top dollar, so they don’t mind coming here and getting good secondhand tack at a reasonable price.
“Many attendees swap, trade or buy outright. And, they don’t mind traveling many miles to converge to what’s become a great gathering place of horsemen.”
The event is the second Saturday in March, for just five hours. Still, horse enthusiasts come to this small southwestern Ohio city from Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.
“The horse enthusiast will find just about anything here, like tack, feed, apparel, trailers and even horses,” Estill noted.
This event started when founder Scarlett Rowland and three of her friends wanted to get Warren County horse enthusiasts together during the winter months. At that time there were just 10 tables of wares and just 10 members of the Warren County chapter of the Ohio Horseman’s Council (OHC) involved.
Today, there are 150 members of the Warren County OHC. There are 69 chapters in the state’s 88 counties, with a total of 4,100 members statewide.
Though the event is only a few hours long, early birds flood the doors two hours in advance, prompting Estill and others to open the gates early.
“I collect miniature toy horses and there’s no better place to go than this,” said Minnie Hatcher, a Xenia, Ohio, resident who has a collection of horses 200 strong. “Anything related to horses you will find here.
“If you’re a vendor you’ll sell quite a bit. If you’re looking to buy any horse-related item, you better get here early, because it all sells fast.”