Decorah – Sandy Ruckhaber has been in the horse industry for 67 of her 74 years of life. Sandy’s first experience with horses began at the age of six years old when she got her first pony. Since then she has experienced the wonderful world of horses in almost every aspect. As of now, she has done everything from showing pleasure ,riding reining horses, owning a western store and making custom made chaps. She was even a jockey at one time, riding a mare called Sally Ran.
Sandy opened her western store in 1965. Someone asked her if she could make chaps in 1969. She didn’t know if she could or not, but gave it a try and has been doing it ever since. Word soon spread about Sandy Ruckhaber and her custom made chaps and the business grew. In 1970, her and her husband, Jim, who is also deeply involved with horses, had to build on to their store to make room for their home based business. Soon it was evident that Jim and Sandy had to choose between moving their store into town or to sell. They decided to sell the tack store, but Sandy continued to make chaps, and still does. The most recent pair of chaps is for a customer in Jefferson, South Dakota. This year she plans on selling her chaps through the internet.
Not only is Sandy involved directly with riding and showing horses herself, but she is also a judge, a certified riding instructor, and a volunteer at Decorah, Iowa for the Great Strides Therapeutic riding for the mentally and physically challenged, which takes place at the Jim and Bridget Casper arena every Wednesday from 4:00PM until 6:15 PM. She has been doing this for the last 13 years. When first approached about the idea by Barb Kellogg and Eunice Veeder, who started the therapeutic riding program, she flat out refused the idea, and told them to find someone younger. Finally, after much persistence, she agreed to do it until someone else could be found. Now, after 13 summers, she is still doing it. At first, she didn’t think she could do anything to help the handicapped people who came to ride. It soon became evident that she was doing something. She was providing these mentally and physically challenged individuals, an hour of enjoyment, every Wednesday. When you see the smile that it brings to their face, it is so rewarding, she states. Sandy goes on to say that this is the most rewarding thing she has ever done that involves horses.
Hats off to this great horse woman and all of her amazing accomplishments in the horse industry!