2 'Horse-Show Mothers' Lend Riders a Hand

Times Staff Writer

Take two successful teen-age competitive riders and their mothers--who have spent years shuttling them back and forth to lessons, shows and tack shops--and what do you get?

Often, a case of burnout. But not for Carolyn Osier and Sandra Long, who have turned their experiences as "horse-show mothers" into a new business in Costa Mesa.

Their tack store, Birchwood Saddlery, is located at the women's newly opened Petplex center at 2230 Fairview Road. While the 10,000-square-foot Petplex carries items for a variety of domestic pets, a large portion of the floor space is devoted to equipment for horse and rider.

Long oversees Birchwood Saddlery; Osier attends to the rest of the Petplex. Both women, however, are on hand to answer customers' horse-related questions. Based upon their years in "horsy" households, they have just about seen it all and heard it all when it comes to equine endeavors.

Long's 17-year-old daughter, Gretchen, was ranked fourth in the nation last year in the junior jumper division. A senior at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Gretchen rides and trains with Joe Lifto and Betsy Breen at Stoneridge Riding Club in Laguna Beach. She competes in the well-known grand prix jumper, the Grandstander.

Osier's daughter, Lisa, 19, is away at college. She won the U.S. Equestrian Team Western Regional Finals aboard her talented thoroughbred gelding, Tuxedo Junction. The family, from Mission Viejo, owns other horses.

"Our whole philosophy is to be a resource for the horse community," Long says. "We'll try to find the items customers want or find the answers to their questions. As a consumer, I go to a store thinking they know more about what I'm coming to buy than I do. We want to do the same for horse-shoppers in Orange County."

With more than 500 competitive riders in the county, she says, there is a need for a tack shop with a large inventory. "To do serious shopping for horse equipment, we always had to go to Burbank or Del Mar. The first week we opened, we had shoppers coming from Long Beach, Riverside and San Diego," she says.

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