From horse gear to art object: Family transforms tack box
Mary Ann Wasserman Published 12:42 PM EDT Sep 15, 2018 GENOA – Family magic helped inspire the construction of an upright cabinet tack box that now belongs to several Ottawa County 4-H members. It started when Jason Eck of Genoa noticed a tack box — used for storing gear for horses — to his niece, Allie Mihlbauer, of
GENOA – Family magic helped inspire the construction of an upright cabinet tack box that now belongs to several Ottawa County 4-H members.
It started when Jason Eck of Genoa noticed a tack box — used for storing gear for horses — to his niece, Allie Mihlbauer, of Oak Harbor.
That observation inspired him to build a custom enclosure for his daughters’ horse equipment.
“My daughters Emma and Lexi and I discussed the project and how theirs should look,” Eck said.
As his daughters would be sharing the space inside the tack box, he decided to make the compartment larger than his niece’s.
A family discussion ensued and the chosen design was to make the tack box look “mysterious.”
After deciding upon a pattern, “We bought some plywood and also used pallet wood,” Eck said.
His wife Melissa also got more involved. She helped Jason by getting wood that she separated from pallets. The doors on the rear of the tack box are also fabricated from pallet wood.
As a family who enjoys being together, a trail ride in Kentucky was also in the works. According to Mrs. Eck, they rode horses that were available at site of the trail ride. During their outing, the family spotted horseshoes in a farm field.
The Eck family offered to pay the farmer for the equine treasures.
“But, the farmer just waved us off and gave the horseshoes to us,” Melissa said.
The gifted equine shoes from Kentucky became decorations, handles, and other appointments for the new-upright cabinet. Eck added casters to make the enclosure easier to move or spin around.
It took him about eight hours to put all the components together, Eck said.
Emma and Lexi Eck were assigned art detail and started to work on completing the mystery illusion of their tack box.
Lexi wanted the design to include a mandala, a geometric spiritual symbol often used by Hindus and Buddhists and symbolic of the universe.
“I love flowers and I tried to make the mandala unique to everyone else,” Lexi said.
The Owens College student finished her mandala in vibrant colors on a pale background — resulting in a unique pattern.
“I also did mine,” Emma said of her portion of the tack box.
“I did a design that I did in art class about three years ago,” said Emma, who attends Genoa High School.
She chose a design that is more contemporary than a mandala.
“I was about 11 or 12 when we made the art and painted it,” Emma said.
Each daughter’s portion of the tack box is personalized with her horse’s name.
Lexi’s horse, Ace, is an all-around equine in both English and Western competitions.
“He does everything when contesting,” Lexi said.
Emma owns Porkey; as a team they race with barrels and poles.
Pat Keys, moderator for Back in the Saddle Club in the horse department of the Ottawa County 4-H Club, adds her magic touch in helping the horses compete.
“Horses have a ratio to human age,” she said.
That ratio is 3.1 horse years to a single year of human life.
Ace is 24 years old in human age; he is almost 75 years old in horse years.
At 31 years of age in human years, Porkey is about 96 years old in horse years.
“I think 4-H is good for a lot of kids — and helping them to coax them out of their shell is really good,” Jason said.
Emma and Lexi seem to agree that 4-H provides activities for everyone — even though each participant attends different schools.
Of the unique tack box, Eck said, “I would have made the base different because the size of the wood limited to me on the size of casters and how they were mounted.”
The metal fabricator and plant manager tells of the most enjoyable part of his first ever-tack box construction.
“I guess working with my girls; that is always a pleasure,” Eck said. “I guess just coming up with different ideas in my head and using what works. I also used my experience of building machinery — it all comes together.
Mary Ann Wasserman is a free-lance writer living in Northwest Ohio.
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