Horse Hardware

Equine supply store serves riders, nonprofits

Shelley DeCou did not grow up around horses. But when her oldest daughter started riding at age 5, DeCou said she learned everything she could about them.

"As a mother of somebody that age, you learn how to do everything [with horses] because the child can't or thinks they can't," she said.

Both of her daughters started riding competitively and owned horses, so DeCou got hands-on experience with basic horse care.

Then, in a desire to do something new and different, DeCou said she decided she wanted to open up her own store.

"I had no idea how much work it is," she said. "But I have a lot of knowledge in the horse world and, I love helping people find the appropriate things."

DeCou opened Horse Hardware in 2006 on Main Street.

Horse Hardware Breyer model horses and riders are one of the most popular items at the store, DeCou said.[/caption]

Horse Hardware Horse Hardware owner Shelley DeCou hangs pictures in her store that were gifts from customers.[/caption]

Horse Hardware Besides riding boots, the store also has some fashion items, such as these skull boots.[/caption]

Horse Hardware is an equestrian supplies store, selling riding attire, horse care supplies, bridles, saddles and other tack and equipment.

Much of the store's merchandise is designed for English riding disciplines. DeCou said the English horse community in North Texas is larger than most people would think.

"It's kind of like when you're pregnant, you notice all the pregnant people. When you're not, you don't even know that there are pregnant people that exist," she said. "If you're in the riding world, you think there are so many [stores]. If you're not in the riding world, you think 'Where would you even find one?'"

Most of DeCou's customers are riders coming from Prosper, McKinney and Frisco, and many of them are new to the world of horses, she said.

"We are very much a destination store," she said. "I do have [people] that come in and shop from time to time and just look around. But people come here because they are definitely looking for horse stuff."

Many customers come to the store looking for helmets, boots and Breyer model horses.

Breyer model horses are popular collectibles that aren't sold in many stores anymore, DeCou said. Several times a year, DeCou will host a Breyer fun day in her store where guests come in to paint a Breyer horse.

"There are a lot of people, adults as well, that still collect [Breyer horses]," she said.

But besides serving the horse-riding market, DeCou also uses her store to support local nonprofit organizations. She currently has a partnership with ManeGait, a therapeutic horsemanship organization for children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. ManeGait uses therapeutic riding to help its clients develop balance, muscle strength and social skills.

When Horse Hardware first opened, DeCou donated helmets and boots to ManeGait.

She now has a partnership with ManeGait to sell supplies, such as safety helmets, at a discounted price.

"I have a background in special education, so I love when the ManeGait riders come in here. That's just a special place in my heart," she said.

DeCou said she tries to create a friendly environment at her store. Her dogs are always at the store with her, sometimes greeting customers, and she makes a point to talk to each of her customers.

DeCou also features a local rider and trainer, who are often her customers, in her email newsletter to promote and connect those in the local riding market.

Because DeCou sees a lot of first-time riders, she said she is always happy to help her customers learn about the products and find the right supplies.

"I have a love to talk to people and chat, probably more than I should," she said. "But, I think I focus on customer service more than other stores do or can. I just want people to be happy with the things they purchased and understand what they're used for."