Business Spotlight: ThinLine Inc.

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ThinLine Inc., located in Durham, North Carolina, is a six-person USA manufacturer offering simple, reliable, comfort tack solutions for all riding disciplines. For more information, visit www.thinlineglobal.com.

Q & A

Q: What product(s) or services do you sell?

A: Today, ThinLine® offers a unique collection of equestrian products that incorporate shock-absorbing health benefits coupled with comfort for a quieter, closer connection between the horse and rider. The technology distributes impact, weight and heat so quickly that the horse becomes more comfortable during work. The integrity and softness of the materials allow the products to flex and stretch for maximum protection while relieving pressure, impact and slippage.

Q: How, when and why did you get started in this line of business? Was there a particular niche that needed filling?

A: Elaine Lockhead Castelao was a single mother standing in the grocery-store line when she noticed the woman in front of her wearing an embroidered horse jacket. They began chatting, and Castelao learned that the woman was the first to try to make a horse saddle pad incorporating specially designed, open-cell foam like that installed to absorb shock in the insoles of running shoes.

Also an equestrian, Castelao recognized the foam’s potential to improve performance and reduce discomfort for both horses and riders. An entrepreneur was born.

“I think that what makes ThinLine so different is it really is a different product,” Castelao explains. “We’re different not only in what we deliver, we’re different because the universe brought this to someone who cared about making a difference." It was a long and tough journey to take a piece of foam and create a product line.

Q: How big is your business, and do you have offices or factories at different locations?

A: We are a small company with one manufacturing location in North Carolina.

Q: What do you offer your equestrian clients that makes you different from your competitors?

A: A variety of professionals, from veterinarians to spinal surgeons, equine chiropractors to saddle fitters and equine massage therapists to top trainers, recommend ThinLine for their patients and clients. The company offers a wide range of products, including saddle pads for every riding discipline. Other unique products include bridles, reins, girths, cinches and halters, as well as stirrup wraps and shoe insoles for human joint protection.

“When it is just about being with your horse, keep him comfortable and he will return the favor,” Castelao says. “ThinLine is a vehicle for comfort, happiness and harmony."

Q: What is your best-selling product to date, and what do you think is the secret to its success?

A: The Trifecta (https://www.thinlineglobal.com/shop/english-saddle-pads/trifecta-half-pad-with-sheepskin-rolls) takes the basic Ultra ThinLine half pad to a whole new level. ThinLine products reduce rider movement, protect horses’ backs and improve saddle fit.

The cotton-base design with Ultra ThinLine on top creates a nice wither profile and spine-free channel, allowing Ultra ThinLine to lay on either side of the spine so that it is always in the right place.

The Trifecta with sheepskin rolls was developed to give riders the fashion appeal of fleece with the shock absorption needed, while eliminating the bulk, high maintenance and cost of a full sheepskin pad.

This pad will fit under both custom-fitted and off-the-rack saddles, and because of the pad’s sleek design, it won’t alter custom saddle fit.

If you need to make corrections to your saddle fit, the Trifecta is also "shimmable" in the front, bridging and rear to help assist with minor saddle fitting adjustments. It's available in white, black, natural and dark brown.

What are the effects of ThinLine tack? “The manner in which this product absorbs motion encourages horses to move through the back,” Castelao explains. “We receive stories daily of how ThinLine saddle pads have improved a horse’s movement or a rider’s ability to sit their horse’s gaits. These riders tell us they have little or no back strain and that their horses are working better and happier. It’s a two-way street of comfort, preventing problems, resolving challenges and just having better communication.”

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your line of work to date?

A: The loyalty of customers who ride in ThinLine.

Q: What has been your business' biggest challenge, and how have you addressed that?

A: There are a lot of companies who mirror our features and benefits, but do not have the materials to back that up. Consumers are confused because so many companies copy our words but not our products. It is an eternal challenge. Once consumers have purchased products which made such claims, they become reticent to trust. We have always been and always will be a grassroots company. It is through word of mouth, thanks to our great customers who tirelessly pass the word about how effective ThinLine is, that we succeed.

Q: Do you have any plans to expand or diversify your product line in the future, and if so, how?

A: Gatorbootz will launch this year. ThinLine Global has been designing high-tech horse equipment for 15 years. Bell boots have always been a product customers do not love because the only method to safely attach them included velcro, which, when combined with dirt, water and or sand, fails. Too, horses, being the clever souls they are, often learn how to remove their boots. Gatorbootz have a latch easily opened by humans but never by equines!

Q: What do you like best about your clientele?

A: Daily we receive letters and emails from customers who tell us how ThinLine has made horses and riders happier and healthier. I never lose the gratitude for the people who reach out and let us know we are doing something to make the lives of horses and people better.

Q: If there was one piece of advice you could offer people in the market for products like yours, what would it be?

A: Don’t choose fashion over comfort for your horse. Select a product to keep them happy and healthy.