“I used to put my saddle on my head to lift it on to my horse’s back!” exclaimed 9-year-old Abby Wighton co-owner of Riding Free Tack Company. Yes, necessity is the mother of invention. Lifting a heavy western saddle, even a kids saddle, was such an effort for young Abby when she wanted to go riding. She couldn’t just go off riding free by herself, she had to have her mom help her tack up. However, mom wasn’t always available. “I had a problem and I needed to solve it,” Abby declared.
How Riding Free Tack Company Got Started
Abby, then 8, began solving her tacking up problem by asking, “What would I change?” then she began to make a list of saddle changes. Top on the list was to make the saddle lightweight, and make easy-to-adjust stirrups – like a belt. She then added things like: pockets for snacks and other things, fun colors and designs with baseballs, hearts, unicorns, sparkles and rainbows. This was so much fun, the ideas expanded into a full tack line with matching breast collars, headstalls and orthopedic saddle pads. Riding Free Tack Company – tack design which allows kids to express themselves and tack up by themselves – was born.
Abby’s mom, Amber, has merchandising with product development experience. She used that experience to research and make industry contacts. Abby and Amber began a working relationship with suppliers to develop a few Riding Free Tack prototypes, before they landed on “the one”.
They have chosen to use neoprene covered with synthetic leather as the primary material which makes the saddle half the weight of a leather saddle. “Neoprene drops the weight from 30 pounds to 15 pounds!” expressed Amber. “So we went with a very strong neoprene covered in a synthetic leather material which is soft and even feels like leather.” The added bonus is the ability to design fun and expressive saddles which anchor the full tack line. Riding Free Tack Company also has a full-leather saddle option.
Getting Riding Free Tack Company Off Galloping
“I’m not old enough to have my own bank account,” says Abby. “So I went with my mom to get the business account set up.” Amber and Abby will be selling the tack on-line and operating out of their house. Brother Beau will help with the packing. Riding Free Tack Company is unique in that it offers the whole kit: a western saddle, saddle pad, headstall and breast collar all matching to complete the whole tack picture. Their target is horse riding kids ages 7 – 12 so the saddles have 11-13 inch seats.
A Day in the Life of Riding Free Tack Company Owner, Abby
Abby may be a business owner, but she is still very much a kid who loves to ride. She especially enjoys riding free and not having to wait for help tacking up. “My horse Bandit is super sweet. He loves being around people and he chases my cat,” describes Abby. She enjoys taking Bandit, a brown and white paint horse with a dark patch around one eye, out on trail rides and doing some cutting on him.
“My brother has a roan he named Cowboy. We go on trail rides together,” explained Abby. This 9-year-old entrepreneur is developing her business skills while still being a kid. “I also enjoy drawing, playing with my brother and watching Chia seeds grow,” says Abby then continued, “I like basketball too!”
Abby’s Vision for Riding Free Tack Company
“I want other kids to be able to ride free like me,”
“I want other kids to be able to ride free like me,” that’s why Abby developed this line of tack specifically for kids. “If you can tack up by yourself you can ride free. You don’t need someone there helping you.”
You can follow the path of this SLO County native and budding entrepreneur on Riding Free Tack Company’s Facebook site, Instagram and check out the kid-designed western tack offerings on their website.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hay Photography