West Coast hunter/jumper riders have made tremendous strides in a discipline once dominated by East Coasters. Yet, still, there are some traditions that remain East Coast-oriented. The Clothes Horse line of show and stable blankets, tack room drapes and tack trunk covers is a classic example. The New Jersey company has been in business for 37 years thanks to the beautiful design, durability and craftsmanship of its products and its dedication to customer service.
The “other coast” is catching on. Top hunter/jumper trainers who hail from the East brought their loyalty to The Clothes Horse with them. Karen Healey, Archie Cox, Mark Bone and Leslie Steele are just a few who dress their horses and their show tack room area in The Clothes Horse style.
The company’s founder Edith Friedman and its current owner Katrina Coldren are both hunter/jumper riders, so it’s been natural all these years to work mostly in that discipline. Because all of their orders are treated as custom, The Clothes Horse can easily tailor its offerings to the preferences of riders in any discipline. Last year, The Clothes Horse provided quarter sheets for winners at Dressage At Devon, and Katrina welcomes inquiries from anyone interested in a beautifully made product likely to last a lifetime.
As loyal as The Clothes Horse’s customers are, they don’t generate much repeat business because their stuff doesn’t wear out. “It sounds silly to say our things last forever, but they do!” Katrina laughs. Her own 10-year-old horse still wears a stable sheet she made for him when he was 4. “It has yet to need a repair,” she adds. Anything a horse wears, of course, is on the frontline of the war against wear and tear, but Clothes Horse clients regularly report remarkable success stories regarding their product’s longevity. “We are not the cheapest place, but we become so when you only need to buy the product once,” Katrina notes. “A woman called the other day to tell me that her daughter is using the wool cooler she used on her horse when she was a junior.”
Lengthy Life Spans
Tack room drapes and tack box covers have an even longer lifespan than items worn by horses. They are made of Sunbrella, a marine acrylic made for the boating industry. The fabric feels similar to the heavy canvas it is meant to mimic, but it does not fade and is easy to care for. Katrina advises clients to hose down the big drape panels during a quiet day at the show, using spot applications of a mild non-detergent soap, like Woolite or Ivory Snow, on trouble spots. The drapes will usually dry within 15 to 20 minutes. Name banners can easily be cleaned in a washing machine.
The Clothes Horse equine apparel includes wool dress sheets, rain sheets, coolers, acrylic scrims and ear bonnets. Like the tack room drapes, name banners and director’s chairs, these are customized for size and design per each costumer’s needs and preferences. Lettering and trim details are limited only by the customer’s imagination. “I love it when our customers come up with a new idea,” Katrina enthuses.
The use of a single needle sewing machine is one of The Clothes Horse’s secrets to success. “This allows us to use high-end finishing methods, such as mitered corners on our sheets and blankets, that are not possible on the production binding machines used by most blanket makers,” Katrina explains. “The fine tailoring includes a small stitch which makes a more durable item.” Fine leather buckles on dress sheets, real leather reinforcement of stress points on horse clothes and trunk covers, nylon thread reinforcement on tack room drapes, and double layer construction of name banners and chair backs are other details that set The Clothes Horse apart.
Orders for individuals are typically worked out over the phone, but Katrina does travel to personally fulfill larger orders whenever she can. Typically, a training barn will decide on The Clothes Horse and Katrina will visit to show samples, take measurements and answer questions.
The Clothes Horse prides itself on standing behind its products. “If anything fails for workmanship reasons, we replace it or repair it immediately,” Katrina says. “We make a great product and we never want anyone to feel that they had to settle for something that was less than perfect.”
For more information on The Clothes Horse, visit www.theclotheshorse.com or call Katrina Coldren at 856-829-8460.