Mendel brings horse expertise to Indian Springs

Published 3:00 pm Monday, March 4, 2013

Carousel Tack Shoppe Owner Rita Mendel. (Contributed)

Carousel Tack Shoppe Owner Rita Mendel. (Contributed)

By DALE BRAKHAGE / Community Columnist

“People who love animals are good people,” said Rita Mendel, the owner of the Carousel Tack Shoppe in Indian Springs.

It takes one to know one. Rita has loved horses and riding for years. When her family moved here 25 years ago, they brought three horses along. Since then, Rita has helped thousands of people live better lives through the enjoyment of horses.

One way Rita did that was opening Carousel Tack Shoppe to provide Birmingham with a much needed English riding tack shop. “Tack” is the equipment one needs for horse riding. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits and harnesses are all horse tack, and English riding uses different tack and apparel than Western cowboy riding.

Tack must be fitted properly. Rita is an official saddle fitter. She and her associate, Linda Holman, are experts in fitting boots, bridles, saddles, apparel, etc. Their expertise comes from years of riding and competing themselves.

If you or your children are interested in learning English riding, call Rita or Linda at 991-0007. They are open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Their wealth of knowledge can help you with anything horsey.

Rita helped people live better with horses another way. In 1986, Rita founded Special Equestrians. That organization uses uniquely trained horses and volunteers to provide important therapy for people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. That non-profit organization is located behind Indian Springs School.

It is amazing how riding gentle horses improves the health and attitude of people with special needs!

“I started that program when we came here because there wasn’t one,” said Rita. She had seen wonderful accomplishments of similar programs when she lived in New York. “I knew one of my horses would be perfect for that.” It was a retired New York City police horse. What a great second career for that public servant horse.

Whenever you want gifts or home decorations with horse themes, visit Rita. You will be amazed at what you find her Shoppe! The rich smell of saddles, boots and leather that greets you as you walk in is alone worth your visit.

Dale Brakhage writes a weekly column about Indian Springs and its residents. You can reach him at