Highlights From 2009 Ranch & Coast

Challenging on multiple levels, the $50,000 Grand Prix of California, presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed and designed by Leopoldo Palacios (VE), had a solid forty-five entrants resulting in a jump-off of just four. The track was tight and the combinations technical, causing both time faults, rails, refusals and involuntary dismounts for riders.

Palacios left no room for error, keeping riders on their toes from the first turn to the last line. Although the rollback turn from one to two seemed straight forward, it was the initial spot where time was wasted and often could not be made up later in the course. The last line paralleled the in-gate in a steady seven strides to a triple that rode long in one to a sizeable gate oxer to another long two stride followed by a turn away from the in-gate to a big square oxer. The first rider to negotiate the course without a rail went fifth in the line-up, Gretchen Lof aboard Zambezi (Kings Wood Farm, LLC). However she stopped the clock at 79.41 resulting in three time faults, and a fifth place finish. Following her round, one or more rails dropped and time faults accrued until the twenty-second pair, Will Simpson aboard Nadia (Gotham Enterprises, LLC), galloped through the timers completely clean. Shortly after, Jill Humphrey and Kaskaya (Leone Equestrians Inc.) did the same. Twenty-ninth in the ring, Guy Thomas and Urian (Vicki Juelsgaard), joined the jump-off participants and not until the thirty-ninth horse, Veronica Tracy on her mount Muscadet De La Saveniere, did we have the fourth clean ride.

Simpson had a surprising two refusals with Nadia in the jump-off, leaving the door wide open for the next three. Humphrey rode Kaskaya to a neat and clean 35.85. Thomas on Urian and Tracy on Muscadet De La Saveniere tried to top her, but both had one rail apiece and took third and second respectively.

Four-faulters placed sixth through twelfth; the top of that pack was Susie Hutchison on Cantano (El Dorado 29) who went lightning fast with just one rail. Third time in the ring was a charm for Guy Thomas when clean aboard Urian, having his share of ups and downs with four entries including a fall off Midnight Dance (Alec Lawler), one rail on Carino (Willow Tree Farm, Inc.), and just one rail on Peterbilt (Peterbilt, LLC). Although possibly a touch sore on Sunday, Saturday was still worth celebrating for Thomas and Willow Tree, finishing with three in the top twelve (see results below).

We had an awesome weekend; starting with a chance to interview Leopoldo during this great Grand Prix in Del Mar and ending with a chance to watch the final day of the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) Level I Training Session at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Sylmar. Melanie Smith Taylor gave a great clinic, also challenging at multiple levels, keeping these potential grand prix riders on their toes. So keep an eye out for ‘Conversations with…’ Leopoldo and Melanie in upcoming newsletters!

Hope all mothers, of children and animals great and small, had an enjoyable Mothers Day.

Grand Prix of California photos © CapturedMomentPhoto.com.


Industry Innovators: Mosley and Mary

By Erna Adelson and Jackie McFarland

Have you ever wondered (or have you been around long enough to know) – who is Mary of Mary’s Tack & Feed? We were honored to have a chance to chat with Mike Mosley, owner of this well-established brand, to find out the answer to this and more.

A well-known destination for So Cal equestrians in need of the finest, most current gear for horse and rider as well as a very visible sponsor of horse shows and advertiser in multiple publications, Mary’s Tack & Feed is conveniently located next to Showpark (the Del Mar Horse Park). Founded in 1963, the store established a clientele before the show grounds existed.

A former representative for numerous tack suppliers, Mosley was able to gain access to Mary’s through a history of business with the original owner and founder, Mary Hammond, who had been running her tiny operation out of an old gas station since ’63. After Mosley took over in 1976, he introduced new merchandise, but retained the original name, superior inventory, and meticulous attention to customers. “I learned a lot from Mary about how to treat people and what to carry,” he says. “She had a really good eye for quality and already had a reputation and customer base, so why would I change a good thing?”
Mosley reveals that a place like Mary’s is the product of a lot of hard work and a little good luck. “There have always been quality horses and riders in San Diego,” says Mosley, “But the right equipment has helped keep them here.”

As business flourished, one thing Mosley did need to change was the size of the store. In 1983, twenty years after its humble beginning, Mary’s relocated from its 600-square-foot location to a site twenty times larger – a 12,000-square-foot location two-story building on Via de la Valle, where it stands today. The outpost store in San Juan Capistrano opened approximately ten years later to further accommodate customers in Orange County. While e-commerce sales have helped Mosley and his team serve customers in distant locations like the East Coast, Hawaii, and even Japan, the internet is actually only a small part of his business. “There is nothing in print advertising or on the internet that can replace the feeling of actually walking into the store.”

Mosley and the rest of the staff at Mary’s are incredibly dedicated to their customers and take pride in providing the latest designs in tack and equipment, hard to find items, and high quality options. For each niche in the equine industry, Mary’s employs a specialized buyer so that the inventory is always up to date. “There are constant challenges involved in staying on top of the market, like keeping the variety so the inventory is interesting and satisfies the customer, whether the item is for a horse, for training a horse, just for riding, or just for fun,” says Mosley.

“It is a monumental task for new employees to know as much as possible about the merchandise,” he adds. Thus, everyone on the floor regularly attends Mary’s University, a school within the tack store, so that they are able to answer any and every question about what is currently being offered. Mosley estimates that Mary’s stocks about three times as many products as a Home Depot, so a student of Mary’s University actually has quite a course load.

Though there are challenges to running a 12,000-square-foot tack store the size of Mary’s, Mosley says that the people are the reward. He explains that “I have not only been incredibly blessed by the people I work with, but since so many of the clients have been coming to Mary’s for so long, they feel like old friends.” Mosley intends to keep the formula for Mary’s simple as the brand continues to expand in the future. “I think people will always have horses and the best products for horses are still high-quality and created by craftsmen, so we will continue to carry those items.”

So the answer to the question – Who is Mary? – is not just Mary Hammond but also Mike Mosley. His innovation plus Mary’s tradition create an excellent retail environment for equestrians.