Wednesday, April 29, 2020

my first Bartville Harness trip

Bartville Harness & Tack is a locally famous supplies shop in the heart of Pennsylvania's Amish country. Bartville services the farming community (livestock like cows, harness horses, plow horses, etc), thoroughbred racing outfits, and -- most relevant to us -- horse sport enthusiasts like fox hunters and eventers.

The shop is well-known throughout the MD / DE / PA region (probably VA too), but somehow I'd never visited before. Mostly bc.... it's well off the beaten path haha.

It's a beautiful drive, tho. Especially this time of year. Tho the roads are old with blind hills and turns, around any of which might be a horse buggy trit-trotting along. So, ya know, stay attentive and don't speed. 

Bartville is most famous for their leather work. Halters, bridles, harnesses, dog collars, stirrup leathers, breast plates..... All manner of strap goods are made to a high standard of quality in house. 

Not just leather - they also work with biothane and other materials suitable for the rigors of farming and driving. 

Considering the clientele, the shop also has tons of specialized equipment you won't find in a typical tack shop haha -- like this ginormous draft sized headstall for pulling. 

Personally, I loved all the little details and hardware too. Like that shiny pretty breastplate on this horse!!

Beyond the driving and farming sections, tho, Bartville's just like any big shop like Dover etc. The brand selection wasn't as varied, but everything is high quality and well stocked.

Oooh. And one of Bartville's compelling distinctions: the prices. Sure, some stuff costs the same here as elsewhere (and it's  worth keeping your phone handy for price checks). But some is priced ~15-25% below what I've normally seen.

Does Charlie need a new Himalayan salt block? No. Did I buy one anyway bc it was the best price I'd seen? Yes. Yes I did, lol. And a wall hanger too haha, obvi.

I was especially tempted by the tinctures and tonics section. Like, I have no immediate need for a box of Ulcergaurd tubes right now haha, and certainly no need to spend that kind of $$$$. Except.... Wow I almost did anyway bc it was priced so well haha.

Instead I grabbed MTG, Keratex, and a digital thermometer that's basically sold out everywhere else right now.

Really, tho, my favorite sections were the walls upon walls of strap goods. Bridles of all types, every sort of noseband imaginable. 

Racing bridles, hunt bridles, dressage bridles, event bridles.... All with different options for padding or stitching. The racing sections in particular, with the multicolored nylon options, really drew me in haha. 

It's worth mentioning Bartville's other dirty little secret. Maybe you already knew, maybe you didn't.... But this is where basically all of Nunn Finer's strap goods are manufactured. 

Reins, bridles, breastplates, stirrup leathers, etc. It's all made here. And available for like 20% off Nunn Finer sticker prices. Just FYI haha.

Virtually all of it is customizable too and can be ordered exactly to spec. Colors, hardware, lengths, sizes, all of it. Every single last bit. Even their selection of dog collars and leashes!

I also enjoyed browsing the aisles with Scott and his wife. They've kept horses healthy and happy at home under meticulous fastidious care for years - with that key distinction of exemplary horse people: their horses age well. 

So when they say a certain product is hands down the best, I take note lol. Like the above Sole Pack. I didn't buy any bc I currently have a full tub of Magic Cushion. But I'll probably try it next time I stock up. 

I also loved strolling the grooming and supplies section. Where obviously I grabbed another old school hard plastic curry since mine is ancient and losing teeth haha. 

Also check out those fun goggles! One day I'm gonna reprise my pair from our Hunter Pace Jockey Adventure a few years back lol... 

Really, tho, Bartville has everything. For just $125 this beautiful specimen could be yours!

My next leather halter (complete with engraving) will 100% come from Bartville, once Charlie finally kills his SmartPak halter haha.

Scott also clued me in on his favorite halter hardware configurations: namely, avoid adjustable chin straps. Which makes sense to me, since that's the strap Charlie always breaks.

Honestly, it was hard not to buy something from literally every aisle. Does Charlie need a new feed tub? No. Did I almost buy one? Yes. Why?!? Who knows!! Tho I did get new hardware to hang his water buckets LOLOL...

I also lingered among the saddle pad racks trying to rationalize a purchase here too. They had a TON of various padding materials and configurations, including stuff you can cut to size yourself for shims and whatnot. Probably mostly for the racing clients, but still very cool.

Lol and obviously when one owns a Charlie, one spends some time in the bandage section. 

The bit wall was extensive too - tho mostly fairly standard stuff. Also in this section was a whole wall of replacement hardware pieces and little odds and ends. From which I grabbed a few spare leather keepers since I keep losing them off one of Charlie's crank nosebands.

Lol and even the Amish sell CBD oil these days. It's a whole new world, y'all.

So yea. It was an awesome trip and I almost bought just about everything. But contented myself with a fairly practical haul: 

A brown buckle end pair of flexible rubber reins I've ogled at literally every tack shop for years, and finally bought! Boring stuff like a salt block and hanger, hardware to hang buckets, a thermometer, leather keepers... Another elastic trailer tie since I keep shredding them (whoops), plus necessities like MTG, Keratex, and a new curry. 

Aaand...... Then I went home and kept the party going online haha, bc once ya pop, ya can't stop, amirite? 

Online purchases included finally FINALLY finding a fuzzy elastic BROWN monoflap girth. Charlie has very specific girth preferences: "zero edges and maximum flexibility plz!" Brown short girths fitting that description are rare, but this HDR looks promising. And, turns out, Charlie's girth tastes are pretttty cheap, bonus! 

Oh and I got a decidedly not-cheap pair of Passier nylon-lined leathers. Bc it's time, yo. I've been running cheap ass stirrup leathers for so so SO long. I love the fancy nice ones, but could never justify the cost. But eh, with what I saved on all those other goodies, it sorta works out, right??

So there ya have it. My first (and hopefully not last) trip to Bartville Harness & Tack, complete with all manner of impulse purchases. 

Have you been to Bartville? Interested in learning more? They don't have a website, but their catalogs are excellent - you can order standard OR fully customized stuff of all sorts. Phone number is 717-529-6992, Ext. 0, for anyone interested haha. 

This little shopping spree was a fun escape from quarantine related doldrums. And a fun way to spend $$ I'd otherwise be using on lessons and shows. Retail therapy, right? It's not the same, but I guess it's good enough for now. Anyone else finally springing for a purchase you'd resisted for years? 



37 comments:

  1. I have to get up to Bartville to buy U-7 liquid before I run out, assuming I keep Nay on it. He HATES it, but it seems to do something. It's so much cheaper there...

    Out of curiosity, how much was the ulcergard?

    Last time I was there, they were out of leather mini halters so I ended up with one from SmartPak and COMPLETELY forgot to go back there to get one when he broke his the other day... Actually, they've been out of mini-sized quite a few times. Minis must either destroy theirs or people (including the Amish) just toss on nylon because they had plenty of those... Oh well, next time (or I'll snag an extra if I remember).

    Nay does need a corner feed pan... I guess I'm heading back soon. It's only about 20 minutes from me yet I don't remember to go very often.

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    1. The box I saw worked out to something like $30/tube tho I don’t remember the exact price of the box or how many tubes were in it - maybe 6?

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    2. OK. That's what I expected. I really need to run there to buy emergency ulcergard lol.

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    3. So I got my ulcergard and they were out of mini halters again. They can make me one, but after buying 2 boxes (12 tubes) of ulcergard and a corner feed tub, I'll wait until Jiminy breaks his new halter. I always forget to go because it's so close (15 minutes unless I get stuck behind too many buggies)...

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  2. That’s a dangerous store. I really wish we had something like that close to here but mostly we have small and expensive tack shops. I did some online splurging here recently and all but one purchase has arrived. Waiting for the last one but I’m starting to think it isn’t coming.

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    1. Lol yea my stirrup leathers hit a few snags along the delivery route too, that’s the way it’s going these days I guess. And yea I was super bummed with making such a quick Aiken trip bc I didn’t get to visit any of the local tack shops, womp. Seemed like there were a couple cool ones tho! We don’t have any in Baltimore (obvi) but there’s some really great options within 45-90min. Bartville is about an hour

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  3. Very cool and very tempting...all those strap goods.... droooolllll... lol I'm glad that place is not close to me! Although a 9hr (give or take) drive might be worth it some day??? haha I feel like there are very few places around to get hand made high quality leather goods any more.

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    1. Oh man I love the strap goods too!! Not sure they constitute hand made or not bc I’m sure there are machines involved, but honestly I don’t know haha. Except the place was very cool and I’m so glad I finally made it out there! Need to make a better list for next time tho lol ;)

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  4. I'm glad that place isn't any closer to me. They'd have all my money.

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    1. Lol ditto!!! In a way I’m honestly glad they don’t even have a website hahaha

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  5. I'm really glad they don't have a website. I'd be buying so much. There's a store almost exactly like this in Texas called Paul Taylor's, and they DO have a website. Which isn't good haha! But I'd love to visit Bartville! It looks fabulous.

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    1. True there isn’t a website but they DO have a catalog muahaha. It’s worth at least a look ;) linked in post above!

      (Also yes for those curious - the catalog isn’t digitized by the bartville folks bc Amish but with quarantine I have spare time so ... literally took pics and converted to pdf for your shopping convenience LOL)

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    2. Oooooo thanks! I'll for sure check that out after you did all that work LOL!

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  6. Oh my goodness I am definitely going to check that catalog out -- sounds like an awesome outing!

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    1. definitely perfect for an easy day trip haha! check it out for sure, tho! i'm honestly not sure what sort of shipping options they do, but if you call during working hours (listed in the catalog) i'm sure they can tell you

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  7. Ok just googled it - 1 hour outside of Philly, So I should make a trip there next time I'm in PA. Maybe we should meet there!

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    1. i am 100% down with that plan haha! it's about an hour from baltimore too, so kinda right in the middle ;)

      (also fwiw charlie's barn is just under 1.5hrs from philly too haha)

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    2. You can all meet over at my house and take Jiminy with you on a road trip :) Well, maybe skip the taking of Jiminy part, but visit him on the way.

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  8. Fun! That was like a virtual shopping trip :) Nice job on holding back, but also, no depriving yourself of some retail therapy!

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    1. oh man, i'm such a hoarder tho hahaha. once i'm finally allowed back at the farm i'm ripping out my tack locker AGAIN, and maybe going to build some more functional shelves in there bc damn, i have wayy too much stuff and somehow keep getting more and more LOL

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  9. Hi, hello, I would like to go there, thanks. Also that sole pack stuff is the only thing I use and it is the best thing ever!

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    1. just another reason on top of the enormous stack of reasons to come back south again ;)

      also gtk you also had good experience with the sole pack. during the summer months charlie usually ends up in pads up front so i don't need a ton of stuff, but it's still useful to have something on hand (esp when Sir likes to occasionally remove a shoe in the middle of an xc clinic, whoops!)

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  10. Bartville is only 25 min from my barn so it is both extremely dangerous but super convenient. I have found everyone that works there to be super nice. Levi will make any custom strap good or tack for you, along with being awesome at leather/tack repair!! A hidden treasure for sure glad you got to experience it

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    1. hey, thanks for commenting! just found your blog through the link ;) and oh man, yea if Bartville was that close to me i'd be there alllllll the time. was definitely impressed with how friendly and knowledgeable everyone there was, and have heard tell of their repair capabilities (not sure why i didn't mention that in the post above, actually). i have a couple halters that need work, and actually a pair of their rubber reins that went sticky and need new rubber now. so ya know, definitely gonna have to go back!

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  11. Neat place! And nice to learn where the Nunn Finer stuff comes from! They do a nice job!
    Sounds like a fun outing, and glad you found a few necessities!

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    1. lol yea i've wanted those reins in particular for years, but every time i see them at tack stores or horse shows with nunn finer prices.... it was always like, 'why would i spend this extra $$ here when i know i can get up to bartville and get them cheaper??' so.... finally i made that happen haha.

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    2. Yep! Even more fun is that Nunn Finer warehouse/home base is 5 minutes from my house. So when my mom bought be a nunn finer bridle and it was mislabeled, they sent it from the Oxford warehouse to the tack store 45 minutes away near my mom so I could pick it up at my Mom's and drive it back to... Oxford. Lol.

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  12. That place definitely looks dangerous! =)

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  13. This place looks amazing!! And I had no idea about Nunn Finer being produced there. Very neat.

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  14. I love love love Bartville -- and I can hardly believe that was your first time!!! I am a bit shocked that they are open though as they had a confirmed case of Covid:(

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  15. I don't think it's even the same owner anymore, but I admit I hold a bit of a grudge. Years ago (many, many years) I took an exercise saddle up for repairs. They "lost it". I had to drive back like three times while they attempted to find it, because they didn't have a phone then. They finally agreed to give me a replacement saddle out of their used section, but then he had the nerve to charge me for the repairs they supposedly did on my lost saddle.

    The same guy also gave my friend a verbal estimate for some blanket repairs and then charged her three or four times as much! It just kind of soured me on the store.

    So glad you had a fun field trip, though!

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  16. I don't know if I'm happy or sad that I don't have easy access to a tack shop like this! I'm impressed at your restraint.

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  17. I am planning on putting the entirety of my Trumpbux stimulus check into tires for the F-250 tow vehicle. Not sure if that's a splurge or not, but that's what I'm doing with it.

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  18. Ummm, that is SO MUCH STUFF. We have no more brick and mortar tack stores around here anymore (except Dover in Charlotte, ugh). TThat store looks DANGEROUS lol

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  19. i looove love love bartville. I love the drive out, I love the area, I love the guy with a lawn mower hitched to his mules. I love that it's open at 7am and there's hitching posts next to parking spots. I haven't been there since 2015 - when I got runkle I went and bought all my tack for him there in one go. But man sometimes I wish I needed tack just for the trip.

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  20. This reminds me of Wayne's Saddlery. They served the local standardbred race tracks. i loved going in there and wandering around. so many nooks and crannies to explore. But unfortunately Wayne retired and no one wanted to buy his store. :(

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  21. Drooling over that tack store....

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