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No whoa at Leanin‘ Pole: Ranchers’ tack business now one of biggest dealers nationally of major brands

RURAL KILLDEER -- Up north, the Entzel family ranch in the wide open spaces south of Killdeer is quite a ways away from a lot of things. From most people. From most places -- like Maine, Florida, Texas and California. But in recent years, the fam...

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The Entzel family’s heated, 250-foot-long Leanin’ Pole Arena is seen Wednesday on the family ranch south of Killdeer. Dustin Entzel, 26, designed it about eight years ago and had it built so he could train horses year-round, paying for it with his horse-training fees. (Press Photo by Virginia Grantier)

RURAL KILLDEER - Up north, the Entzel family ranch in the wide open spaces south of Killdeer is quite a ways away from a lot of things.
From most people.
From most places - like Maine, Florida, Texas and California.
But in recent years, the family business has had customers from those states - and from all of the other states, except Alaska and Hawaii.
Indeed, there are so many customers that the Entzels have become one of the top horse tack dealers nationally for various major brands.
About seven years ago, on top of the other things they were doing, the Entzels thought they’d try selling high-quality tack - saddles and such - and sell it significantly below retail price to make quality items affordable, Jackie Entzel said Wednesday. They also always wanted to do the right thing and make sure what they were selling was really the right and best fit for the customer and horse.
Now, Entzels are nationally one of the biggest dealers for such companies as Professional’s Choice equine equipment, Equibrand, Fast Back Ropes, Dutton Bits, Bar H Equine and Double J Saddlery.
Jackie, a self-described horse lover who grew up on a Dodge-area ranch and on the back of her horse, Stacey - a place she did homework, even - won’t carry inferior products, like bits made too narrow for a horse’s mouth.
“Horses are a partner, not a tool,” Jackie said about the care and training of horses.
They’re also branching out into various directions, selling everything from cattle vaccines and fresh feed way below retail, fire-resistant clothing for oilfield workers, and top-of-line stock trailers.
“We’re never going to die rich, but we have a very loyal customers,” said Jackiel, who runs the family’s Leanin’ Pole tack and trailer sales businesses with help from husband, Elvis, and their 26-year-old son, Dustin.
“I think it’s awesome how they started from scratch … and now they’re one of the (country’s) biggest distributors,” said customer Britany Diaz, a professional barrel racer who, among other honors, qualified in 2011 and 2014 for the National Finals Rodeo, and is currently living and competing in Texas.
“I would recommend (their) store to anyone,” said Diaz, who grew up in Solen and still has a home there. She related how organized the Entzels’ operation is, how Jackie is available for any and all questions, will ship whatever Diaz needs, and how the inventory has everything Diaz would ever need.
The Entzels maintain a $500,000 inventory of tack on the ranch that includes hundreds of horse blankets, about 400 headstalls and 500 horse bits and saddles, including the Double J brand Diaz uses. Items range from unadorned leather tack for ranchers and cowboys to bling.
Jackie keeps up with the most current trends, so she has popular multi-colored glitter boots meant also to have the serious purpose of protecting the horses’ legs. And there are horse collars with various adornments: beading, fringe and leopard prints.
The tack business is located in an addition built onto the family’s barn/indoor arena - an arena that’s hard to miss: It’s red and 250 feet long and just west of state Highway 22.
Eight years ago, there was no tack or trailer business, just Dustin’s aspiration to build that big indoor arena - for other reasons.
While his sister, Heather (Entzel) Johnson, would go on to college and become a pharmacist, Dustin, recipient of full-ride college scholarships and a Killdeer High School rodeo standout and horse trainer, had other thoughts.
Dustin told his parents he would go to college if they wanted, but he thought it would be a waste of money because he knew he wanted to continue being a horse trainer for a career.
Jackie said they had faith in him: “He’s a very mature person.”
So their 18-year-old son proceeded to design and have built a real anomaly in the area during that pre-oil boom period, the height of the recession. There were no indoor arenas or buildings this size anywhere nearby, but after they were done constructing there was a heated, lighted indoor arena that’s 118 feet by 250 feet long with special footing - 4.5 inches of sand silt topped with 2.5 inches of washed sand. No pasture sand. In it, Dustin began to train ranch and roping horses year-round.
The family figured out quickly what to call it: Leanin’ Pole Arena.
Jim Peterson, Jackie’s uncle, died of cancer when Dustin was young, and left his brand - the “Leanin‘ Telephone Pole” brand - to Dustin.
The 19-year-old horse trainer quickly became booked two years in advance - five horses a month - because of his already established reputation.
“People knew his horses,” Jackie said, referring to past horses he had trained.
The Entzels also started to bring in, and still do, big names to give clinics at the arena - such as Paul Tierney, a roping champion now in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, and world champion calf roper Fred Whitfield.
They also used the arena for community events - horse shows and rodeo events for kids - and started an annual tack-swap event, a big rummage-sale type event so popular it now fills up the arena. People, for no charge, set up tables and sell tack and other items.
This year’s event takes place on March 28 and 29 from about 8 a.m. until the gates close sometime in the evening.
The benefit to the Entzels is to get some traffic through the tack shop and the chance to meet some new great friends, Jackie said.
Meanwhile, Dustin’s horse-training fees paid the indoor arena’s construction-loan payments. Dustin still raises, trains and sells ranch and roping horses. The Entzels generally maintain a herd of about 50 horses.
When the oil boom began, Dustin took on oilfield work, too.
He also competes in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events. He’s in Texas doing that now, and is still involved in the continuing evolution of the family’s business ventures.
In addition to Leanin’ Pole’s tack and trailer sales, and Dustin’s quarter horse raising, selling and training, they now have a repair shop for trailers and flatbeds, a needed service for livestock people and oilfield companies, and employ two people to help there.
In another new development, the Entzels - dealers for Platinum Coach aluminum trailers - are now adding a steel trailer option, becoming dealers for TravAlong trailers.
Dustin said Wednesday what he’s proudest of, regarding the family’s Leanin’ Pole businesses, is “the way it’s grown, starting kind of from nothing.”
Jackie was about 16 years old when she met Elvis, a ranch kid about the same age from the Halliday area, at a Dickinson roller-skating event. She graduated from what was then Dickinson State College with a business degree, and they married soon after. That was 33 years ago.
“He’s still my best friend,” she said.
Jackie has admired through the years his work ethic and honesty, that’s “there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way.” She also sees that in her kids.
She related that Dustin recently turned down selling a horse for $20,000 to a family that wanted to buy it so badly for their son. Dustin the trainer just knew it wasn’t the right horse, the right fit, for the boy and wouldn’t do it.
Jackie said people have told her she should increase the store’s prices to match retail prices, particularly for the fire-resistant clothing sold to oilfield workers who make good money.
But her view, basically, is that oilfield workers are getting the opportunity to create a nest egg and wants to help them keep as much of it as possible.
And dear to her heart: She likes that there’s a rancher out there who struggled to put food on the family table for years but can now do that with money earned in the oilfields and can finally buy himself a really nice new saddle after decades with the old one - for a really good price, hundreds of dollars lower than retail.
There will be no oilfield gouging at the red arena, Jackie said.

You’re invited

To celebrate the new dealership with TravAlong Trailers, the Entzels are putting on an event from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 13 at the ranch, 749 Highway 22, with door prizes and a free meal.
For more information, go to the Leanin’ Pole Arena’s Facebook page or visit
www.leaninpolearena.com .

Grantier is a reporter for The Dickinson Press. Contact her at 701-225-8111.

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Jackie Entzel, left, and Amanda Lundquist, a part-time employee described as being more family than employee, are surrounded by inventory in one of the rooms built onto the family ranch’s indoor arena for the Entzels’ growing Leanin’ Pole Tack Sales business. Outside, they sell trailers. Feb. 25, 2015. (Press Photo by Virginia Grantier)

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