Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Favorite Things (or 10 gifts for Horse Lovers)

I'm not Oprah or Julie Andrews, so don't expect any free giveaways or singing. but I am a connoisseur when it comes to gift giving. I don't do gift cards, so I like to come up with gifts that are fun to give and hopefully fun to receive.

Note: Somehow I misnumbered and ended up with 11 ideas. I like all of them and spent too much time to want to delete them, and the ponies are wanting breakfast anyway, so insert obligatory Spinal Tap reference about things going to 11 so it is better, and enjoy.

11) Breyer Stirrup Ornaments

This year's Winter Belle ornament in 13th in the series. A miniature version of the yearly Breyer Holiday horse, the stirrup ornaments set themselves apart from other more generic horse ornaments with the framing stirrup component. These ornaments can be found at most tack shops and anywhere Breyer's are sold. And if you're a completest like me, don't worry, previous year's ornaments can be found on eBay.  

A runner up in the ornament category is the Trail of Painted Ponies. If you've never seen these, they practically need a blog post of their own, but for now. Here is a picture.

10) Hand Painted items with "your" horse

In the past I have found eBay to be a useful site again for finding artists who like to make some extra holiday or anytime money by painting your horse (or dog, or cat, or child, or pet rock) onto a variety of items, including Christmas Tree ornaments. These come in a variety of styles and levels of skill, so look closely at any sample photos of their work, as your mileage may vary. They generally need a high quality photo to work from, the more detail, the better.

This year I have discovered that if you have those high quality photos and want a more accurate rendition of your equine friend you can purchase photo ornaments. Now in searching I discovered that many of these were flat ornaments, and not the traditional round ball type. But they are out there if you look hard enough. For example, these look very nice. I also found a website that claims it is "easy" to do your own. I am not sure I believe them, but you can decide for yourself by clicking here.

9) Stuff in "your color"

In the horse world most people have the same things for their horses, brushes, blankets, pads, crops, etc. And no matter how diligent you are about labeling, things can easily get misplaced or "borrowed." So I adopted a color scheme. Almost everything I own (horse related) is purple or some shade thereof. This makes things at a glance more easily recognizable as "mine." And matching is always fun, a saddle pad and polos that go together is great, just like when your bra matches your undies. (OK, maybe not.) So if the horsey someone you know has a favorite color, or print (zebra for example) find something fun and useful in that shade.

8) Stephens gel-eze pad

I don't have one of these, but since it utilizes 2 technologies that I have been a big fan of for my own comfort, I have been wanting one for quite some time. A combination of sheepskin (like my Bearpaw boots) and gel cushioning. (I live in Dr. Scholl's sneakers with built in gel heel cushions.) It is a little bit pricey, coming in at a bit under $200, but for a horse's comfort, it just might be worth it. I'll let you know if I ever get around to getting one.

7) Back on Track products for people and horses

I adore Back on Track products. The long wave infrared radiation technology is a wonderful invention and their products are a boon to equines and humans alike. My horse currently has the polos, exercise boots, and sheet, and my father has the gloves. If I could I would wrap us all up like mummies in BoT products for hours at a time as we are all decrepit and arthritic. Anything that can make our horses or ourselves more comfortable and fluid is a boon to our rides and therefore makes a great gift.

6) A little bit of bling

To me, the holiday season is all about sparkle. Shining lights, glittering ornaments, tinsel and glossy wrapping paper just to name a few. So what better present than a little bit of shine for our equestrian lifestyle. Now western riders have always been about the bling. I have seen western costumes so studded with swarovski it is a wonder they can move. At the very least they are protected from snipers since they are practically wearing armor. (Though with all that shine they'd be easy targets, but I digress.) Lately English riders of all ilks have been getting into the game. Dressage riders have their showy browbands, and there are a variety of crystal encrusted stirrups and spurs and whips to be had if you know where to look. While some of this can be quite pricey, there are inexpensive options out there if you look around.

Also on eBay for the crafty, I have seen blank browband channels so you can design your own. Just be very careful and make sure your design is  secured adequately and is flexible enough to conform to the horse's shape and movements.

5) Tack Trunk

Who hasn't kept their horse stuff in a Rubbermaid container, or the back of their car, or some other inconvenient and inelegant location at one point or another? And who doesn't secretly long for the shiny wood box that holds all of their horse gear neatly and in one place? I know for some of us this may be a magic box if it fits everything (like a Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside) but a nice tack trunk is a wonderful gift. There are plenty of places to buy them. Or if you have woodworking talent, there are plans on the internet to make your own. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some designed for travel, some can hold saddles, the options are limitless. (Well except for the bigger on the inside thing, I think the laws of physics limit that.)

4) Charitable donation to an equine rescue or sponsor a horse

What do you get for the horse lover who has everything? Or maybe the don't have everything, not even a horse, but they can't take on one right now? Tis the season and charity is always a good option (no matter what time of year.) Running a horse rescue is a huge time commitment and it is always a struggle to make ends meet. Vet bills are always cropping up when least expected, and the price of everything is currently through the roof. Now personally, I am not a fan of giving money to charities, because so much of the money donated ends up going to "administrative costs." But in this case, there is another option. Donate a bag of feed, or a supplement, or some hay if you know where to get it. Or donate your time. Rescues are always looking for knowledgeable help, even if the only knowledge you can provide is the ability to tell one end of a pitchfork from another.  There are too many rescues out there to list, all fighting the good fight, whether they are saving one horse at a time, or 80. A simple internet search will find one close to you. Once you find one you can contact them and determine what their needs are. You don't want to show up with the wrong kind of feed.

3) Unique or Collectible Tack

Maybe the horse lover in your life has a unique equine hobby, like riding or collecting sidesaddles, or costume recreation, medieval jousting, or some other esoteric branch of equestrianism. In that case, you could purchase antique or collectible equipment or paraphernalia. However, if you are going to do this, I suggest you use caution, or consult with an expert before you purchase. A lot of these hobbies have very strict requirements or opinions on the quality, suitability and authenticity of the items used. For example, the side saddle pictured above is beautifully carved and would make a nice display piece, but isn't great to actually ride in for a variety of reasons.

2) Equestrian Getaway

If you hate winter and being cold like I do, this is your dream gift. Getting away somewhere warm and sunny (with no snow!) And still being able to ride. For those who like the snow, or live somewhere more temperate there are snowy places to go if you need a fix of the cold white stuff. There are a variety of tour companies (Equestrian Vacations, Equitrekking, and Hoofbeats International to name a few) to help you get the most out of your riding vacation, whether you want to combine it with a wine tour in France, a castle tour in Ireland, just ride on the beach, or train with an expert in a particular discipline while in a scenic locale you can find something for everyone. And I have seen tours that offer options for non riders, if you want to bring the less than horsey hubby along. (But who am I kidding, bring along a friend who will gallop through the hills with you.)
As a side note, I have not been on a vacation with any of the companies mentioned above, but if they (or anyone else) would like to give me a free trip I would be more than happy to give them a review or several reviews on this blog.

1) A Pony!

This one speaks for itself. And if you don't have room for a full sized horse, minis fit well under the tree.

1 comment:

  1. I like the photo of the horse under the chrismas tree :) glad you're back to blogging :)