by Erin Johnson
Horses come in many different colors, and Maggie Mell, of Eagan, believes their accessories should, too.
Mell, who recently became a horse enthusiast after following her daughter into riding lessons, doesn't see why all riding accessories and horse gear should come in the requisite navy blue and forest green. She believes horses and riders should be able to outfit themselves in hot pink, mint green, maybe even leopard print.
And judging from the response to her store's items, so do many others.
Mell recently opened The Haughty Horse, which offers a variety of items in unique colors and patterns for both horse and rider including bridles, halters, fly masks, tail socks, brushes, combs, riding apparel, riding crops, and saddle pads.
"You could buy your basic fly mask with burgundy felt at the top and bottom," she said. "Instead, mine have sunglasses painted on them with rhinestones and leopard felt on the top and bottom. Because your horse just has to look good."
Mell said she loves to shop, and her newfound love of riding opened up a whole new world of must-have items. But she had little luck finding unique equestrian items locally.
"I would occasionally order a couple of things online, and everyone would say, ‘Where did you get that? That is so cool!' " she said. "The people at my barn would ask me all the time to help them find things for their daughter for gifts. So I decided that I can't be the only one who wants really cool horse tack that's kind of bling and different and unique."
Mell now offers many eye-catching items, representing several online vendors locally.
In addition to basic gear for horse and rider, the store carries horse-themed gift items, jewelry, ornaments, home accessories, and even a line of custom-made purses that are created exclusively for The Haughty Horse.
"I mean, the mom at the horse show, why can't she have a cute little purse that has a horse on it?" she said.
Mell has converted the lower level of her home into a retail store filled with merchandise. The Haughty Horse will primarily be a mobile unit traveling to horse shows, starting with the local circuit and moving into national horse shows.
By Sept. 1 the store will also have a Web site, www.thehaughtyhorse.com, from which customers can order products.
Mell said she believes The Haughty Horse will fill a definite need for all of the horse lovers in the area.
"Right now you either have to go 20 minutes south, or you have to go to Woodbury for the closest tack shop," she said. "And most of them are predominantly western, so it's hard to find English or dressage apparel or equipment around here. So I'm kind of smack in the middle now."
She also believes that the equestrian world is ready to move beyond basic khaki and burgundy, and into lime green and lavender.
"Anything I like and I would use, I order. And anything my daughter and her friends like, because they're about 11 or 12," she said. "It's a perfect way to be a stay-at-home mom, be involved with your kids activities, and have your own business."