The emergence of the pet food store...

I, Tanja Eckardt-Radtke, was born on 24.05.1978 as the daughter of an electrical engineer and a housewife.

From childhood my heart beats for horses. Familiar preloaded and "infected" by generations

My parents could never allow me the desire to ride and also saw this hobby as too dangerous.

My grandfather, however, rode all his life and also always owned a horse, and my father practiced equestrianism in his youth.

Still a little person of elementary school age, I would pull myself up to the skylight in the rented apartment just to catch a glimpse of the clatter of the hooves of a passing horse running down the street. On the way to school, I regularly got stuck on the fence of the horse that stood by the pastor's house and was late for lunch.

Even in my teens, this fascination with horses did not disappear, even when Grandpa's new horse tried to brush me off on the fruit tree during the annual birthday party with the whole family in his backyard in the county during the "ride" without saddle and bridle. I was still smiling contentedly and happily when the branch gave me a crust between the eyes.

In 2003, at the age of 24, I was finally introduced to riding by a colleague at work at the time. She wanted to start riding again when she was over 40. So I started parallel with the first longe lessons. The riding stable had school horses. I didn't lose interest when the horse I was supposed to ride as a beginner first had to be lunged/exercised. Nor did I lose interest when I was the first rider to sit on a completely new horse. Certainly I was not the best and fastest beginner rider.

Nevertheless, a horse owner entrusted me a good 2 years later in 2005 her gelding as a riding share.  First tournament immediately a victory. I had not expected that at all. What was I proud!

Just one year later, the thoroughbred mare Sikirra (Kira) moved in with me in 2006. She was bought in Hameln, 300 km away, by a young girl who didn't get along with her. Test ridden: Okay, what brisk. But I did not care. When I moved into the riding stable at home, Kira did not make life easy for me. If I came to the meadow to pick her up, she galloped for her life for half an hour, fighting every time I repeated if I couldn't just go again with just halter without horse please. I persisted, ignoring even the fact that the mare was already trotting off and leaving the yard while I hadn't even properly sat in the saddle. Research showed that I must have been the 8th owner of the then 9-year-old mare. From a fortunately unsuccessful racehorse to a broodmare and a hunting horse, she fulfilled all the requirements that had been placed on her up to that point. Kira stood at the horse dealer and also already in the slaughterhouse. But then fate brought us together. With me, she was only to be ridden recreationally and was always a reliable horse for me... if I could get her off the pasture.

Eventually, of course, everything settled down and the hierarchy was established. A little more than a year later, in 2007, after more than 30 years, my father wanted to start riding again and do it not on school horses but on his own horse. Now the Lipizzaner mare Dehlia (Lea) moved in. The two mares got already 2 months later company of a thoroughbred gelding, which we had taken over 5 years old from the racing sport with tendon damage as Beisteller.

A few months later, we left the riding stable and, as self-supporters, wanted to influence the husbandry, feeding and fluctuation of our small herd.

The two mares were often out with us, we had a lot of fun and really wonderful times.

In 2010, my father and I visited the Equitana Open Air equestrian show at the racecourse in Neuss, Germany, and asked a feed wholesaler for low prices. "Only dealers get cheaper prices!" No sooner said than done. On the side, I registered a business as an animal feed dealer in Euskirchen-Kirchheim. However, the minimum order quantities were quite high for 3 horses, so I looked for other horse people in the area who wanted to order quasi together with me. My father gave up riding again for health reasons.

In 2015, I took in the then 11-year-old thoroughbred gelding North Hill (Nino). He was to act as a new riding horse in place of my Kira. Kira had retired in 2014 due to impaired health. Today it is clear that Nino will also have a retirement place in life position and will not serve as a riding horse.

North Hill was born in New Zealand and successfully ran gallop races in Hong Kong. His owner allowed him to fly to Germany after his racing career because he knew he would be allowed to continue living here. Racehorses have no place in China after their career. I gave the gelding the name Nino, which means "blessed by God". In our private stable, he is simply allowed to be a horse and enjoy his retirement.

In 2016, I became aware of the fate of the 16-month-old Welsh A mare Kiara through a pet food customer. She was born with a crooked muzzle and was at the slaughterhouse. "There's room for the pony, too, and the runt doesn't cost anything!" The pony didn't know much, wasn't halter-trained or willing to be loaded, and walked through fences. Trust was quickly established. Kiara and Nino complement each other very well and together they form a group.

In 2018, VOX filmed a segment with us for the series "Hundkatzemaus" in search of help for Kiara's "wry nose". The defect is congenital and often requires surgery, otherwise the foals would not be able to survive. Kiara copes very well with her crooked nose. Because of this, a veterinary clinic that has experience with this deformity recommended that we refrain from surgery. The risk of aggravating the condition is too great.

In 2018, a serious accident with lasting, lifelong consequences completely slowed me down for the time being. Thanks to great help from all sides, the horses and the animal feed business could continue to be looked after.

After 6 months, I was allowed to put full weight on my leg again and fought my way back into everyday life bit by bit. Limping, I delivered the first bags of food again and, in view of the chronic pain, considered whether I could continue to run the pet food business at all. However, this thought was quickly discarded. My heart is too attached to the business and the dear regular customers.

Over the years, the animal feed warehouse grew considerably, as did the customer base. Many tons of animal feed were moved every month. Ups and downs had to be overcome, and the assortment had to be adapted again and again.

In spring 2021, my husband and I bought the small supermarket/aunt Emma's store in Mechernich-Antweiler. However, until the transfer of ownership could be completed, the tenant could be terminated due to own need, and we could think about our own move, I initially moved the pet food into our half-timbered farmhouse a few houses away, which my husband and I also occupy ourselves.

Then came July 14, 2021. Almost the entire stock of the animal feed warehouse was destroyed. The goods were not insured.

What could still be used somehow and was too much or unsuitable for our horses was donated in the village. Everything else was disposed of by the hanger for a fee. The landfill had waived the fees only days later; unloading points did not yet exist.

Buckets and buckets of heavy, wet and smelly food were shoveled out of the rooms and sorted away what was not destroyed by the flood. The water on the street was about 1.6 m high. Nobody had expected that!

On 24.09.2021 I had to go with Kira unexpectedly to the horse clinic. Only under painkillers the transport was possible at all on 4 legs. Arrived in the clinic, the findings tore the ground away from under my feet! A hoof abscess had probably been going unnoticed for some time and bone substance had been irretrievably lost. In addition, my mare, now 25 years old, was diagnosed with a heart defect so bad that they did not even want to operate on her lying down under general anesthesia. Half of her hoof would have been cut off, not knowing if she would still be able to recover and if the other legs, which were already clearly swollen and overloaded, would be able to cope. In addition, they did not know to what extent the hoof would become usable again due to the destroyed bone tissue. On the last journey I accompanied her with a heavy heart, but with the necessary calmness so that she did not understand what was happening. Only after that I broke down. This was not how the day was supposed to end. I had to let my soul horse go without warning....

In the summer of 2022, I filled the stable with the 22-year-old pony gelding Rocky. The owner was no longer interested. It was only thanks to the time and financial effort of the riding participation that the gelding could halfway survive the difficult last months. Completely inexperienced with horses, Rocky had taken the fear of horses away from the benefactress. The gelding has acute respiratory problems, gets inhalations with an ultrasonic nebulizer and stands on low-dust bedding. His watery stool was almost completely eliminated within a short period of time, and his bloated belly is gone.

From 2023, the renovation work in the supermarket is expected to be completed and the animal feed store can be rebuilt. Now with specialization in horse feed and accessories as well as an online store for Click & Collect in the pick-up warehouse or nationwide shipping.