Saddling up for retirement

David and JoAnn Oswald are closing Four Springs Saddle & Tack after nearly 30 years in Dallas.

DALLAS -- Customers are snapping up saddles and equine supplies at Four Springs Saddle & Tack so owners David and JoAnn Oswald can head into retirement.

"It's been fun and we're still going to be in Oregon," JoAnn said. "I've enjoyed the community of Dallas."

About 29 years ago, JoAnn said she and her husband built the shop and covered riding arena out at 16770 W. Ellendale in Dallas to board horses and teach riding lessons.

The pair began selling tack out of a mobile trailer at horse shows and business soon was booming. JoAnn said David learned to make saddles by watching a leather worker and opened the shop on their property. The couple also raises rainbow trout to stock ponds and boards horses on its property.

The shop today showcases soft leather bridles and other tack hung neatly on the walls, as well as shiny Western-style saddles that proudly sit on padded sawhorses.

JoAnn said her husband has also made gun holsters and even repaired mailbags for postal workers.

David will continue to work with leather, but the couple has reduced the costs on horse equipment and put the property up for sale. JoAnn will stop teaching young riders as she has for the past 35 years and give up her position as 4-H leader of the local group Pony Expressions.

"For me, watching the youth grow up is the best part," JoAnn said. "It's rewarding and (it is) really fun teaching (kids) a skill and watching them progress into horse people."

She said she is sad to leave the group she has led for 23 years. No one to date has stepped up to take it on when she moves. Pony Expressions will compete for the last time at the Polk County Fair this summer.

The Oswalds are hoping their property will sell so they can move to Dayville, west of John Day, in Eastern Oregon. They would like to build a small home in the area and travel.

"You are always responsible for other people's horses -- 24/7," JoAnn said. "It's just time to do something else before we're too old to do anything else."

She said the toll boarding 10 horses has on the body and ability to travel is great. She said she is not burned out, but simply ready to explore something new. If the property does not sell in about a year, the Oswalds will likely rent it to move east and pursue their dreams.

For more information on Four Springs Saddle & Tack's going-out-of-business sale, call 503-623-6559. Shop hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m.

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