Category Archives: General Information

Complete a Quick Survey and receive a discount coupon!

WESA Market Floor

This is just one of three different buildings housing hundreds of Western and English companies for retailers to purchase from.

Al-Bar Product/Company Survey

Give us your opinion on New Western and English Companies

Every January we attend the Western and English Sales Association (WESA) market. This is an opportunity for us to see hundreds of new products from many of our vendors. It also provides us the chance to see several other companies that are either new or that we do not have regular salesman for. This is where you come in!

Before we head to the WESA market in January of 2018 we want to gauge your interest in companies we currently do not carry. Below you’ll find a link to a quick 3-4 minute survey asking just a few questions about companies we have been asked about over the years. We’ll leave the survey open until December 30th so you all have plenty of time to complete it. This will give us a chance to see all of your responses and consider if there is sufficient interest to add companies.

We also want to reward you for taking the time to complete the survey. So at the end of the survey you will find a box to enter your email address. When you enter your email address we’ll send you a coupon come January once the survey has closed. The coupon will be good for a one time use until the end of February. Thank you!

What are the most comfortable boots?

It’s a question I am often asked when helping someone who is purchasing new boots. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s their first or hundredth pair of boots. Inevitably people want to know what are the most comfortable boots. So without further ado.

The most comfortable boots are…

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When to blanket your horse?

As temperatures fall and snow amounts start to rise we see an influx of people needing blankets and wanting to know when/at what temperature to blanket there horse.
You need to take in a variety of factors when it comes to blanketing your horse. Is your horse body clipped or does your horse grow a heavy winter coat? What is the temperature out side and what are the weather conditions outside?

Horse is Body Clipped vs Heavy Winter Coat

You will probably be blanketing your horse sooner than most as their short natural coat is not going to keep them as warm as other horses that grow a heavier winter coat. As temperatures start to reach 40’s and upper 30’s you may be looking toward a medium weight blanket (220g fill) and something heavier as temperatures drop below the freezing mark (440g fill).
If you have a horse that grows a heavy winter coat then you may not need to blanket your horse until temperatures drop down into the sub-freezing range. As for weight a medium weight blanket (220g fill) should suffice unless you see sub-zero temperatures on a regular basis. Some of this will depend on the weather conditions but if your horse isn’t showing signs of discomfort from the colder temperatures then they are most likely fine.

Temperatures & Weather Conditions

Knowing what the weather is going to be like is key! For us Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan winter weather can change in an instant. One day in the 40’s and the next in the low teens.
Medium weight blankets are most typical for this area during the colder months (30’s and below) and lightweight turnout blankets are good if your trying to keep rain off during those warmer winters (40’s). If we would have a repeat of 2013/2014 you might want a heavier weight blanket (440g fill) to deal with those extremely cold days, especially if your horses remain outside and  do not have a way to get away from the wind.
Around here turnout blankets will keep your horse warm and dry during those windy and snowy days. But if conditions get worse you may want to bring your horses inside if able. If your horse is wet from snow or rain there is a likely chance your horse will become colder much quicker.
Obviously shivering is a clear sign that your horse is cold and should be blanketed at that point until they stop. If you notice signs of your horse showing discomfort with the weather it might be time to blanket as well.
Unfortunately there isn’t a magic temperature as to when to start blanketing your horse. However we have included an approximation of blanket types for temperatures below.
The factors above will play a big role as to when you should blanket, as well as your close observation and connection with your horse.  You will have to be the one that makes the final call as to wether you need to blanket your horse.
Approximate Temperature Guide:
Not Clipped
No Blanket
Light/Medium Weight
No Blanket/Light Weight
Medium Weight
Medium Weight
Heavy Weight
Teens and Below
Medium/Heavy Weight
Heavy Weight + Hood
If you’re looking for winter blankets you can take a look at our Winter Turnout Blankets on our website.
Note: This is an approximate guide and your experiences may differ. Our personal experience tends to be to not blanket our horses until they show signs of needing/wanting one. We do stable our horses at night and have means to block off wind from going through the barn where their stalls are. We will also keep the horses inside if the outside temperature and weather conditions would be unpleasant for them. 

Used Western and English Tack

As many of you already know we carry a variety New of Western and English tack and apparel, but did you know we also have a used tack and apparel department?

Al-Bar Used Section

If you’re just starting out with horses then you know it can be expensive to get everything you need. Our used section helps offset some of these costs by providing quality items at a fraction of the cost. Whether it’s your first year showing or you’re a seasoned veteran looking to save, you’ll find a good selection of unique western show apparel and tailored hunt coats and shirts.

Like many second hand shops it pays to check back often, as our stock changes often throughout the spring and summer months when people are looking to get ready for the summer 4-H season.

Along with the apparel, you will find a wall full of Western and English saddles and a small section of headstalls, reins, bits, and other tack. We do keep all of the used western saddles and used English saddles online on our website and update it quickly when new saddles arrive.

So stop by and see what treasures reside in back, and who knows maybe you’ll find the very outfit or piece of tack you’ve been searching for. Check back soon for more information on how to put items in our consignment section.

Web and Special Orders for Christmas

Photo Courtesy of jimmiehomeschoolmom

With cyber Monday and Black Friday behind us, we can now focus on getting the last of this years highly sought after Christmas gifts. Some of the more elusive gifts might have to be special ordered and even though we offer special orders sometimes the companies we order them from don’t operate on the same time scale we do.

If you’re looking to get a pair of boots or special tack item this year we recommend you come in sooner rather than later. Special order items usually take anywhere from a week to ten business days to get in.

Also if you’re ordering from our website keep in mind that we strive to keep everything in-stock but there are times where we may not have an item. If it is out of stock we will do everything within our power to get it in from the manufacturer for Christmas. This Christmas season we guarantee in-stock items will arrive by Christmas if purchased by 11:59pm December 17th.

Do you want a custom cowboy hat?

Ever wondered what a cowboy hat looks like before it becomes this?

Wonder no more! We recently started stocking an open crown hat from Atwood Hats. The specific hat we have does have a different band to it – your traditional felt band with buckle and tip.

I’m sure many of you are thinking this thing looks goofy or nobody is going to wear it in the show ring. To be honest you’re right! We didn’t get it for that reason. The great thing about open crown hats, is they allow us to “block” or shape the crown to the style you’d like. Also the brim is 5″ rather than the standard 4″. This too will allow us to customize the brim to the shape and size you would like.

Don’t be frightened and think this is the way all hats are going to start coming, even though years ago that was the case. We will continue to stock hats as you saw in the first image at all times. We decided to have an open crown hat due to the number of requests we are getting for lower crowns and different shaped crowns. This will allow us to accommodate those needs for anyone.

John will custom shape each hat so that you can get the exact hat you want. You can base the crown off something we have in stock or if you see something on-line bring in a picture and we’ll do our best to shape it like the picture.

So there you have it. A way to get your very own “custom” hat. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.

Elmer Has Been put out to Pasture

For ten plus years Elmer has been bringing you little memorable moments, with all his different little quirks. Unfortunately Elmer won’t be learning any more tricks or quirks as he has been retired.

We’re sad to see Montana Silversmiths put Elmer out to pasture but they believe he has lived a good life. Montana Silversmiths will continue to focus on western jewelry with innovative new lines and high quality belt buckles.

Although Elmer is going away, we do have some existing Elmer models available and you can see them all on our website and in store. Let us know what you think of this in the comments below, on our Al-Bar Facebook page, or by phone (574) 259-1188.

New Display for Western Saddles

We’ve recently made some changes here in the store by adding new displays for our western saddles. These displays make it easier to view of our new western saddles. We can easily house 40 plus new western saddles and have a great area for you to sit in the new saddles while working with our knowledgeable staff. Take a look at the new displays below.






There is still one more display rack in production and should be put up in the next few days. As well it gives us some room to display girths and the professionals choice boots right next to the saddles. We’ve gotten some comments from people who have stopped in and seen them already. Let us know what you think in the comments below or stop in and tell us yourself.