It turns out Melissa had a rather creative upbringing, which contributed to her interest in more unusual styles of tack and rarer breeds of horses. She says, "I came from a family of musicians and artists...traveling to renaissance fairs and living with small musical communities of people with many different ethnic backgrounds."
She's had a relationship with horses from childhood, she says, learning to ride as she learned to walk, and spending her youth "galloping around bareback". After high school she started a fine arts business called Equine Design Graphics.
She bought a Friesian horse back in the early 90s, before they were well known in the US. Having developed a knowledge of the breed and connections with other Friesian owners in the US and abroad, she began another business to help people find Friesian horses, the US Friesian Referral Service.
She has studied for years with a classical riding instructor, riding Friesians, Andalusians and Lipizzans. This experience with the baroque breeds opened her eyes to the lack of authentic baroque style tack available in the US. She explains, "The more I worked with horses, the more I saw a glitch in our tack selections here in the US. I had always wanted to be able to offer riders here the chance to have some of the unique world tack I had seen during my upbringing. So, saving the funds from a couple horses I trained and sold, I started my third Online Business the ‘Baroque Horse Store’. Using my extended family contacts from different countries, I am able to offer unique world heritage and traditional tack."
"Tack is one of my passions. [The store] is run solely by me...with my own meager funds. I take all the photographs, using my horses as equine models; I also run and designed my own website."
Melissa carries heritage and traditional style items from Holland, Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, Hungary, Turkmenistan, Egypt, India, Portugal, Spain, Austria.
Personally I particularly love the Hungarian bridles, with their fancy fringes, and the vaquero saddles, with their woolly seats and broad girths. She even carries the plush and unusual Maremma saddles from Italy, and authentic Argentine parade tack.
As to future trends, Melissa says that this year for the first time she had some items such as show bridles and old-style bits made to her own specifications, which she will likely continue to do next year. She is also hoping to add more items to complement the bridles, saddles, stirrups, and even Medieval Caparisons that she already carries.
All photos by Melissa Fischbach, posted with permission.