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YOUNGSTOWN - Of course, it's not unusual that hungry customers have arrived by car, truck and motorcycle for the nearly 10 years that Melissa and Rob Kudel have owned the popular Bandana's Bar and Grill at 930 Lake Road. But lately, they've been pulling up on horseback. The riders from nearby M.K. Quarter Horses have been traveling a little more than two miles to have lunch on Sunday afternoons these past few weeks, and they've been attracting notice. Last Sunday, the group provided a striking picture as the riders arrived on 20 horses, all in single file. "We ride through the Sanger Farms orchards and then up Route 18," said Melissa Koser, owner of M.K. Quarter Horses at 3360 East Ave. "We leave the barn at about 12:30 p.m., and it takes us about 45 minutes to wander over there. The weather's been so nice, and our riders are like one big family, and it's just like having a meal with your family. "We had asked Bandana's owners, Melissa and Rob, if they'd mind if we rode over and tied our horses up outside to the guardrail, and they said they wouldn't mind," Koser said. "They're great people, and it's great food. It's a great location because they have a pretty big 'yard,' if you can call it that, with trees, and it's on a cul-de-sac, and we're as respectful as we can be." Melissa Kudel is happy to accommodate them. "We have a table ready for them on our covered side patio or inside in the air conditioning, by the window, so they can keep an eye on the horses. The horses are just beautiful," she said. "I don't know of any other restaurants around here that have this," Kudel said of her customers arriving on horseback. "The other customers love it. It's interesting to see people come in on horses." Koser said they not only attract attention at the restaurant, but during the entire ride. "People pull over and wave on Route 18 and the people on the golf course [Niagara Frontier Country Club] wave to us - they get a kick out of us," she said. "And we carry a pitchfork with us to clean up after ourselves." Bandana's customers "ask us questions and take pictures - our horses are pretty easygoing," Koser said. "And Bandana's has been very helpful, getting us seated together - and we can be a pretty big group!" Bandana's has been helpful in other ways, too. "They helped sponsor a couple of our girls, Meghan Ebert and Jessie Fritton, when they made it to the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo., earlier this year," Koser said. Koser teaches English and Western riding lessons - and rodeo skills - to nearly 50 students at her facility. While the ability to acquire rodeo skills is rare in this part of the country, Koser teaches barrel racing, calf roping and cutting, bull riding, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, pole bending and goat tying. A native of Berwick, Pa., she grew up showing and rodeoing and turned pro when she was just 13. Meghan's mother, Janet Ebert, said, "Melissa is just awesome with these kids. She's a really great person and we're really lucky we found her." In order to qualify for the national competition in Wyoming, the girls had to finish in the top four in their events in competitions held throughout the year. In Wyoming, Ebert said, they faced competitors from not only each of the United States, but also from Canada and Australia. "There was something like 2,000 horses there and 1,500 competitors," Ebert recalled. "It was very cool, and Meghan got to experience so many things. She's 14 now, and she started riding when she was 6 or 7 and started in rodeo when she was in sixth grade." Bandana's provided the girls with several dinner gift certificates for a basket raffle to help finance the trip, Ebert said, and has offered to host a barbecue at their restaurant to help the girls afford future trips to the nationals. "They've been very supportive," she said. Ebert said that she and her daughter ride together every Wednesday at Koser's farm but that this was the first time she was able to join her daughter for the Sunday lunch at Bandana's. Koser started her business in Youngstown in 2004, and boards about 50 horses at her farm while also breeding, rehabilitating and buying and selling horses. She has also added a program for troubled youths. For information, visit mk-quarterhorses.com. "Most of my boarders are also my students," Koser said. "We're trying to make this Sunday trip to Bandana's a weekly thing until the weather changes. It's just something fun to do. "We started out with just 11 people at first doing this, and I made a reservation at the restaurant for 25 today," she added. "It's gotten progressively bigger." "Our barn is like a family, and we like to get together and have a good time," said Lori Mathews, who rode to Bandana's on her 10-year-old horse, Traveler, last Sunday. "We usually ride out back at the stables, by the pond and across the street, but this is the farthest I've been. "People in the restaurant watch us ride up, and they're so amazed we're on horses," Mathews added. "I get to ride two or three times a week, but this is the best day of all." Summer Stringer, riding her palomino, Mai-Tai, has been boarding her horse with Koser for a year and is excited about the Sunday outings. Stringer said, "I love that we're all able to do this together." email: niagaranews@buffnews.com