A 12-year-old girl’s fascination with horses has turned into The Red Mare, an equestrian supply business specializing in dressage saddles, tack, accessories, and related items.
The owner is Kimberly Cote, who grew up as “a horse crazy girl.” At age 12, she was given free use of a Chestnut Arabian mare (the red mare). Cote mucked out stables and groomed horses for a professional trainer in return for riding lessons.
Cote bred the original red mare and still has her daughter who is now 23 years old.
Cote became intrigued with dressage, became proficient enough to compete in regional competitions, and earned a place in the 2006 Nationals.
In 2008 Cote opened The Red Mare business, first, in Monterey, Calif., working out of a horse trailer. She travelled between horse shows, competitions, expos and other dressage events selling equestrian equipment and supplies.
In 2010, Cote purchased a bigger mobile unit, a 35-foot gooseneck “toy hauler,” with a small living area. She moved to Key Center in 2010, purchased her nine-acre farm and opened The Red Mare at its new location.
She stays on the road attending dozens of events during much of the dressage season, May through September for Washington and Oregon, and year round for California. “The rain in Washington interferes with dressage events,” Cote said.
She loves all aspects of dressage including just watching the riders, the horses and the competition. She has not competed on her own horse since 2009 because she has been focusing on her business.
According to Cote, saddles and tack used in dressage are specialized and different than other equestrian equipment. Eighty percent of her sales are from her mobile unit. The remaining 20 percent are split between her Key Center shop and internet sales, she said.
“My business is a dressage boutique. I stock merchandise that I would use myself, or I’ve received an endorsement from friends and trainers,” she said. “I also stock general supplies for all kinds of horses, along with sportswear and gifts.”
“My specialty is dressage. I know my strengths. I refer others to specialized venders,” Cote said. “Since moving to Key Center, I’ve even supplied some World Cup and Olympic competitors.”
Her greatest competition is mail order, but you cannot see, touch or try on a mail order. The nearest storefront with dressage equipment is Olson’s Tack in Bellevue, which does not go on the road, she said.
For information on local dressage events, contact Lower Puget Sound Dressage Club at lpsdc.com, the Equestrian Institute at equestrianinstitute.org or the Oregon Dressage Society at oregondressagesociety.org.
The Red Mare is located in Key Center at 8820 150th Avenue KPN. For information call (253) 884-1441 or visit theredmare.com.
“Dressage” is a French word that means “training.” It originated as a martial art for horses depicted in rock paintings 9,000 years ago in India, and was written about by Xenophon, an Athenian cavalryman in 360 BC.
Dressage was an Olympic event starting in 680 BC.
Warriors on horseback would train their horses in “martial arts” to fight ground troops. The first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Dressage joined them in 1912, and were known as “the military test.” Dressage was a “manly” art until the U.S. Calvary was disbanded in 1948. Women first competed in 1952, and dressage is now dominated by women competitors.
Dressage is frequently referred to as “horse dancing” or “horse ballet.” It might more accurately be called a “kata” (a choreographed routine of techniques) as in karate expositions