As Luck Would Have It
"Lifetime Guarantee.” I was looking at a brochure for Shores Custom Horse Blankets that John Stark had dropped by when that statement caught my eye. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard of that assurance of customer satisfaction on much of anything anymore, let alone on horse blankets! I’d be happy if mine lasted one season! Charisma’s flysheet, which was new in the spring, now has most of the binding missing and the seams starting to eek open. Her winter blanket is faring a little better, but I’d say most of us in my barn buy a new one every few years or so. So then I’m thinking, these custom blankets must cost a fortune, but the prices were surprisingly reasonable, especially when I considered what I was already spending to regularly replace and repair my own blankets. And then there was the “custom” factor, because the only thing harder than finding a blanket that holds up, is finding one that fits properly! Even after you have desperately tried to mold a metal measuring tape to your horse’s body to get an accurate measurement, they’re either too short or too long, and they almost always rub the shoulders! Shores uses a unique 4-point measuring system to assure a precise fit, and comes and does the measuring for you! So now I’m thinking “Hmm, a blanket that fits, won’t fall apart, and comes in your choice of color (a particular plus for people like my student Mary, who wants everything in purple!)” I decided I needed to find out more about Shores Blankets, so I gave John Stark a call.
John began the equine aspect of his life by growing up with a horse named George. Little did he know that being bit by a dog would bring him back to it again. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story of Shores Blankets begins some 30 years ago, when Travis Shores started his business in Louisiana and then moved to Tomball. In 1979, he met Tu Le, an accomplished seamstress, and convinced her to come sew for him. Tu subsequently perfected the design of the blankets and became an integral part of the company. When Mr. Shores suffered a massive stroke in 2001, she ran the business and took care of him until he died in 2004. Then as “luck” would have it, just when Tu found herself needing a partner, her dog Lucky bit John Stark, she and John became friends, and the rest is history.
Shores Custom Blankets prides itself on quality workmanship and customer satisfaction with a personal touch. Sharon Garner, of Garner Creek Hanoverians, recently ordered several blankets for her stallion, Bonheur. Sharon told me “The quality and beauty of the blankets far exceeded my expectations! They fit perfectly, and the embroidery is exceptional. We had them put our farm name on one side and the horse’s name on the other. It will be wonderful not to have to figure out who each blanket belongs to each winter! I really enjoyed working with John. He made the whole custom design process really easy. I’m so pleased, I just ordered six more blankets, and am working with John to customize a sheet for my sale horses.”
If you’re wondering how good their guarantee is, listen to the rest of the story. Twenty years ago, Tom Donahue purchased five custom blankets from Travis Shores before moving to Kansas. This spring when he returned to Midway, Texas, he called to get his blankets picked up for laundry, and told John he was still using those same five blankets! One of them had a strap that had torn. Tom was amazed to learn that the blankets were guaranteed for life, and delighted when John delivered his blankets and found that one blanket outfitted with all new straps. “I’ve never had better blankets. I ordered another one this year for a new gelding of mine. John came and measured him, and it fits perfect. It looks just like the others, they’re just a bit faded from twenty years of use!”
Well, if you’re as excited as I was about ordering one of these special blankets, but already own a relatively new blanket, there’s more good news. Shores will take your old blanket and sell it for you! If you’re not ready to go the custom route just yet, they also can clean your blankets (only $10 for HDS members with the coupon below) and will do any necessary repairs for a reasonable fee. They also make custom stall panels for shows, trunk covers and carrying cases, with logos and/or lettering. And if you’ve been looking for a summer sheet that will keep your horse cool, clean, bug free and not bleached out, AND won’t fall apart, Shores is working on a new fly sheet for next spring.
Be sure and stop by the Shores Custom Blankets booth at the GSWEC during Championships. To order a blanket, or ask for a laundry pick-up, call John Stark at 713-410-1764. You can also visit their website at www.shoreshorseblankets,com.
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