Cliff Strein wasn’t exactly a shrewd horse trader.
The founder of the Silver Spur Saddle Shop could have made a lot more money. But giving away saddles, tack and even a horse here and there for area kids that couldn’t afford it tends to be expensive. Just thinking about it still chokes up his grandson and current shop owner, Craig Strein. Not because he’s sad, but for all the joy Cliff brought to local kids. “He didn’t want to be known for that,” Craig said of his grandfather’s philanthropy. “He just loved kids.”
In addition to founding and building the Silver Spur Saddle Shop from the ground up, Cliff was probably best known for founding the Black Hawk Creek Saddle Club. He built a show arena for it behind the shop, located at 3574 W. Shaulis Road between Waterloo and Hudson. Today, Craig and the members of the saddle club carry out Cliff’s vision:
Give kids a place to ride no matter their financial situation.
After 35+ years, the Black Hawk Creek Saddle Club is still going strong. It hosts five to six shows a year, even as other area saddle clubs folded. Craig said his grandfather felt so strongly about helping kids, he would write checks for hundreds or thousands of dollars to keep or attempt to keep other financially strapped clubs afloat. “My grandpa wasn’t perfect, but he loved kids. He wanted them to have a work ethic and be successful in life.”
“Having the responsibility of caring for a horse, learning horsemanship skills and doing chores, he thought those things would help,” Craig said. Apparently it did. Numerous BHCSC members and other young people have learned their horsemanship skills at the Silver Spur arena. Many have gone on to be world champions. And they have also gone on to successful careers and lives both in and outside of the equine industry.
The same sentiment of being on solid ground applies to the future of the Silver Spur Saddle Shop as well.
With over 50+ years in business, Cliff Strein’s legacy has endured and thrived under Craig’s loving and watchful eye. Using the same principles his Grandfather taught him, Craig has carefully nurtured and moved the Silver Spur Saddle Shop forward year after year, just as his Grandfather had intended.
“I learned so much from my Grandpa. He taught me the importance of hard work and really knowing your product line. Grandpa lead by example. He showed me what honesty, integrity and kindness really looked like. Grandpa and I shared the belief that educating the customer, whether it be on riding disciplines or boot styles, was crucial in helping them find the best products for their individual needs.
Above all, he wanted to make sure each and every customer that walked through our doors, received the best customer service possible. That all begins with kindness. He left some big shoes to fill. But every day, my staff and I do our best to make sure we do just that. I think he would be proud.”