In January, we reprinted an article first published in the Concord Monitor (Jamie L. Costa; December, 2022) that introduced Kathleen Lang, founder of Becky’s Gift Equine Relief, a nonprofit organization that offers temporary, confidential assistance to horse owners who have fallen on hard times. Becky’s Gift is named for Kathleen’s daughter, a UNH graduate, accomplished equestrian, and animal lover, who was traveling through New Mexico on her way to the start of her doctoral program in archaeology when she was killed in a car accident. Kathleen created Becky’s Gift in remembrance of Becky; it is an organization her daughter would have loved, dedicated to helping the horses and owners who need it most.
In a follow-up to that article, we are focusing on a business, and business owner, in Andover, who has a unique connection to the Becky’s Gift organization. Linda Barnes, CEO at Becky’s Gift, runs the Tack Room, an equine supply store housed downstairs in The Andover Community Hub. She and volunteer Heidi Worrall (and Heidi’s large and very friendly German Shepherd, Percy) collect donations of all manner of equine necessities, which are sold at terrific prices. The money from all sales is then donated to Becky’s Gift, which enables the organization to help more horse owners.
The Tack Room is housed in several rooms on the building’s lowest floor. Each room holds an impressive amount of high-quality equipment and clothing. The saddles are topnotch, polished, and beautiful. The boots are equally wonderful, with plenty of sizes and styles to suit riders. One entire wall shines with bits and bridles. Another is piled shelf on shelf with horse blankets. As any equestrian knows, the necessary array of tack, clothing, boots, and grooming supplies is enormous, and the Tack Room seems to have it all.
The mission of Becky’s Gift, with which the Tack Room plays an essential part, is to help those horse owners who may have fallen into crisis. The organization’s support is given on a temporary basis to prevent owners who have fallen into hardship from having to relinquish their animals to a rescue organization, perhaps never to see them again. While the rescue organizations play a crucial role in animal safety, Becky’s Gift aims to be a first line of defense for those who, with the organization’s assistance, may not then have to get into a situation that has deteriorated to the point of no return for their horse ownership.
Becky’s Gift aims to help clients find a way to keep the horses they love. Recently, one Andover horse owner, diagnosed with cancer, struggled with the costs of her own treatment. She reached out to Becky’s Gift and they provided the hay for her horse, to ease some of her financial burden during her illness. Another local horse was diagnosed with a painful medical issue that required surgery. When the suffering horse’s owner contacted Becky’s Gift, they helped with the costs of the surgery. The organization visits potential clients’ farms, offers advice, and helps troubleshoot current and potential problems with the clients’ animal ownership. They meet each client and each specific situation with the goal of being of service to owners for the betterment of the animals in need.
Just walking in the door of the Tack Room made this animal lover feel as if I’d entered the horse barns of my childhood — the smell of leather is heavenly. What’s more, the aptly named Linda Barnes, and volunteer Heidi Worrall, are as knowledgeable and warm as I’ve often found horse lovers to be. Stop by the Tack Room and see for yourself; it is worth the visit!
And if you or someone you know needs assistance in taking care of a horse, whether food and veterinary bill help, or other support, please contact Becky’s Gift (BeckysGift.org), or visit the Tack Room, located in the back of the Andover Community Hub building at 157 Main Street, for more information.
Tack Room hours: Thursdays and Fridays, 11 AM – 3 PM; Saturdays, 10 AM – 1 PM.