By Tony Ends


BRODHEAD – What do horse-ridin’, drivin’ folks like to do when they’re not atop or holding reigns of their favorite critter?

Why swappin’, biddin’, shoppin’ and talkin’ over a horse or two’s tack, of course.

This past fall, I found more than 100 of them hold up in the back of Cardinal Lanes doing just that.

From Monticello, Durand, Edgerton, Rockton, Beloit, and all around in a wide arc of Brodhead, they rode in for what seems to have become a semi-annual affair here, fall and spring – a tack auction.

“An auction is a fun way of getting everyone together at the same time rather than coming alone all of the time to our store,” said Diane Walmer, whose husband Howard helped auctioneer Cal Schaver put the event together.

“In the fall, it includes home décor and fun stuff, as well as tack, whereas the spring auction is especially for tack, as it’s getting close to exhibition season then,” she said.

“We have customers from all around who come to our store west of Evansville, but a lot of them know each other and like to come together at an auction.”

Walmers have been in the tack business more than 50 years. If you commute back and forth along the Green-Rock county line to Madison on State Highway 104, you’ve probably noticed their sign directing folks east on West Milbrandt Road to their store.

The Cowboy Christmas Auction was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving again this year in Brodhead, and another tack auction will likely be held again in spring, sometime in May as horse competition and show season approaches.

Walmers have a Facebook page to keep in touch with a wide community of horse owners. There’s more than one trail you can follow, though, to source horse gear from Walmers beyond the pair of events in Brodhead.

“In February, Rock County has a tack swap that draws a number of vendors and a lot of individuals who want to swap unused tack and get things they need for horses,” Walmer said, in a December phone interview.

“We’ve taken part in that for more than 20 years. It’s held at the fairgrounds in Janesville. Many 4-H horse project members take part.”

Walmer’s Tack Shop, stocking both English and Western show gear, is open, too, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 to 8 p.m. ; Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The couple will open up at other times by appointment with a call to the store at 608 882-5725.

Walmers’ store hits the trail in summer, too, selling tack at the Mel Shotliff Farm (882-2429) on North Burg Road near Evansille when 4-H shows and clinics are held there at indoor and outdoor arenas.

A drill team competition the last Saturday in June, free to spectators and open to the public, draws a good crowd.

Auctioneer extraordinaire Cal Schaver was missing in action from the tack auction this past fall, as Dave Koning, of Monroe, called the event. There were plenty of Schavers (Brian, Tina and Teri) in the saddle to keep the auction running smoothly, though, as their father auctioned hay down in Orangeville, Ill.

Hay auctions continue, November into spring – weather permitting, at Carter and Grunewald on County Highway KS, off State Highway 11 in Juda. They are called at noon the first and third Saturday of each month.

You can try to keep up with Schavers at , or give them a jingle at 608 897-4648.

When you’re not horsein’ around outside, especially if cold weather makes you stir crazy, find your way to horse events and stay in touch – or tack.