From ‘Snobby’ to Tack-Y

By October 13, 2011

The new storefront on Foothill Blvd., a few miles North of the previous location.

It was something of an institution in Los Angeles: Stable Snobs, the place you went to buy a saddle that didn’t need breaking in, or to get a deal on a bit or a pair of breeches. At age 11 Samantha Drenten began working there to help finance her horse show habit. In January, at age 24, she purchased the business, which she’s relaunched as Tack-Y Couture just down the road from the original shop, on Foothill at Scoville.
“I never liked the whole ‘snob’ thing,” she says when asked about the new name, which reflects the tongue-in-chic aspect of an inventory comprised mainly of used luxury goods. “We’re taking that concept and having fun with it.”

“Fun” is a great word to describe Drenten’s new space. It’s bright and spacious and colorful – a stark contrast to the store’s earlier incarnation. Meeting Drenten, one sees immediately that the new place is a reflection of her. “I’m a vintage flea market lover myself, so every time a consignment load comes in I’m like, ‘Oh, sweet! What do I get to dig through today?’” she says rubbing her hands together gleefully.

The merchandise is carefully cultivated. At any one time, she estimates she has in excess of 100 English riding saddles, about 40 Western and maybe one or two Aussies or other specialty seats. “I take the store to horse shows in Arizona and Nevada and set up a booth, in part to sell, but also to bring things back to Sunland so that people in California have an opportunity to look at items they would not normally see.”

About 100 English and 40 Western saddles on hand at Tack-Y.

Drenten has consigners from all over the world. She works a massive database compliled from her two decades of showing (she rode her first competition, saddle seat, at 2 —and while we’re not sure she was actually building her contact database back then, having gotten to know Samantha a bit, we wouldn’t put it past her!) Her goal: “to have people to come in and be able to shop in a boutique environment, have a unique experience and get a really good deal.”
Drenten describes herself as “obsessive about the quality” of the pieces she takes in. “Every Western headstall you touch is a really good piece of equipment ― well maintained, oiled, clean, and the price is really fair. I do give myself credit for being an incredibly savvy shopper,” which benefit accrues to Tack-Y Couture’s customers. By way of example, she cites ratcatcher shirts that originally retailed for $200 going for $20, and coats whose original tags were $400 to $500 are re-selling anywhere from $50 to $250 “depending on the brand.” Since off-the-rack suits for the Saddle Seat A-circuit can cost as much as $800, or as much as $4,500 for custom-made, Drenten stresses value. “My biggest goal is to keep the pricing really, really fair. Suits are never priced at more than $300.”

Drenten, who owns what she describes as “the world’s largest Morgan,” R.J., 17.1 hands, spent her formative years as a serious show competitor, and later as a trainer. She recalls all too well the challenges of being from a middle-class family and trying to meet the economic challenges of her sport. “The reality is, this is a luxury sport. I want to help the little girl who walks in with a parent that really wants to see her ride, but isn’t on an unlimited budget.

Drenten has been competing in Saddle Seat since she was two.

“I think every kid should have the opportunity to show horses. It gives them a confidence I don’t believe they can get anywhere else, and teaches them responsibility and accountability. Being around a 1,200 pound animal, you have to be responsible or you’re going to get hurt.” Having spent a lifetime reaping the rewards of equine sport and the physical and mental training that goes along with it, she wants to give back. “The idea is to help people get to their goal ―whether that’s competing in Louisville or just taking a relaxing trail ride― as cost effectively as possible. A lot of that,” she says with an insuppressible chuckle, “is because personally, I’m cheap!”

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