Located in the Saanichton countryside on Keating Cross Road, Victoria Saddlery has been the premier tack shop on Vancouver Island since 2002.
Victoria Strongman manages the business with six staff members. Tori, as she is known, (the shop isn’t named for her!) was taught as a youngster how to ride by the previous owner and then at 18 years old, she was offered full-time employment.
Tori hasn’t looked back since. Shy then, 11 years later she has a real and vocal passion for the sport. Working at Victoria Saddlery, Tori knows her market and the “horse” people know her well. “It’s a very personal business, not your usual retail shop as a familiarity develops quickly with the clients,” she says. “That’s a very cool aspect of the job.”
Advice for Getting Back into Riding
People who love riding range in age from five to their 80s. For those people who rode in their teens and now as more mature adults, want to get back into the sport, Tori offers this advice, “it’s not like riding a bike!”
- First, choose a horse that’s easy, gentle, and a bit older. You’re not 16 anymore!
- Second, there are tonnes of barns on the Island. In fact, it’s amazing how many stables of horses are located on the Peninsula.
- And, third, the horse community offers as much competition as you like with most horse shows at Saanich Fairgrounds.
There’s a wide range of levels and disciplines. People ride for their personal pleasure. There are equine therapeutic riding centres for physical, emotional and mental therapy. Tori read recently of a military veteran who had PTSD. After equine therapy he suffered far fewer episodes while learning valuable life skills like trust and connecting to nature.
Trends in Horsey Attire
No matter the discipline, everyone wants to look good! Riding fashion is constantly changing. You’re not going to see the same thing as even 10 years ago. Clothing is more technical, lightweight, breathable, and with UV protection. For example, now there’s silicone in the seats of breeches instead of micro suede.
“One fashion trend that has definitely caught my eye are all the sparkles, crystals and bling!” Tori says. While higher in price, you get what you pay for in top-quality fabrics and design.
With the winter season ahead, Tori says it’s time to take care of your horse with the latest in blankets. They’re not your wool of olden days but highly technical fabrics in various weights.
For newcomers to the area, contact Tori and her team for advice on local stables, riding lessons, and of course all the equipment you will need. They know everything and everybody in the close-knit local horse community. Plus, they have a great selection of consignment saddles and can line you up with a saddle fitter.