It’s the time of year when thoughts turn to gift-giving — and spending a little time planning and thinking ahead can reduce the stress that is sometimes involved in finding a suitable present for those special people on your list. If your list of gift recipients includes fellow horse owners or enthusiasts, why not choose something tailored to horses or horse care rather than a run-of-the-mill or impersonal gift you could give to anyone else?
A good place to start is your local tack shop or feed store; we always prefer to start our shopping in local stores and shops where our community will benefit, rather than traveling far from home or frequenting those ‘big box stores’. Many of these stores will have an assortment of horse-oriented items or gifts — such as shirts, hats and other wearing apparel emblazoned with horse motifs of various kinds. There are gifts for the house, such as mugs, towels, pictures/paintings and other artwork that feature horses. If you know that your gift recipient frequents a particular shop or feed store, a gift certificate for feed or horse supplies will definitely come in handy.
In addition to visiting local shops, we also like to think of personal or hand-made items. If you have a partner or friend that you enjoy horseback riding with, bring along a camera on your next ride — a framed photo of that person on their horse would make a nice personalized keepsake that will last long afterwards. And for a youngster lucky enough to have their own horse, a framed photo of the horse with or without the youngster will certainly be a special gift.
Along with hand-made items, those who are not feeling too ‘crafty’ can nonetheless ‘make’ a nice gift for a horse owner. Purchase various tack items such as combs, brushes, hoof pick, equine dry shampoo, etc. and put them all in a plastic grooming tote for a nice wintertime grooming gift. Or you can use a plastic feed bucket and add in a new halter and lead, leg wraps, new rub rags, hoof conditioner, sweat scraper, or other items that can be hung for use near the horse’s stall. An equine first-aid kit is another idea — you can make your own by filling a plastic toolbox with first aid supplies such as Povidine or other wound cleaner, wound antiseptic, surgical/latex gloves, rubbing alcohol, a large-animal thermometer, scissors, bandages, tape, sterile gauze and pads, a stethoscope, hoof pick, instant ice pack, and flashlight. Don’t forget to label the top of the box with “Equine First Aid Kit” or a big red cross.
For those who like to bake, there are a number of recipes you can find for ‘horse treats’ that will provide an inexpensive but thoughtful homemade present. Here are a couple to start:
Sweet Feed Horse Cookies
4 cups sweet feed
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups molasses
2 grated carrots
2 grated apples
1/2 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Mix all ingredients together, form into large balls, then press flat onto well-greased cookie sheet
- Bake for 20 minutes, let cool.
This recipe can be enjoyed by both horse and owner:
Carrot and Apple Horse Cakes
1 carrot, grated
1 apple, grated
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups oats
2 TB oil
- Preheat oven to 300°
- Mix all ingredients together and place in greased baking tray
- Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown
- Cool in refrigerator for 4 hours before cutting into squares
There are artists and artisans who would be happy to ‘capture’ a special horse on canvas or by other means of remembering a beloved pet. I found a woman who makes beautiful necklaces and bracelets out of horsehair — and sent her strands of a favorite horse’s mane and tail. The necklace she created for me is extra special now, since that horse has passed away.
Another gift idea is to have tack or other articles personalized. If your gift recipient has a favorite horse, a nice gift would be a halter personalized with the horse’s name. You can also have a saddle blanket or pad personalized — or for someone who shows, a personalized trunk for hauling tack items will certainly be useful.
For an older horse owner, or one who works full-time, a ‘certificate’ or ‘coupon’ offering to do barn chores for a day (or a week!) would be greatly appreciated.
Other unique gift coupons that you can tailor to your recipient could be for a trimming/shoeing or visit from the veterinarian or equine dentist. Contact the farrier, veterinarian or dentist (if you know who your recipient uses) and ask if you can pay in advance for their services, then make up your coupon gift.
And for a horse owner with a horse in training, or one that needs training (many of our horses could use a little more training!) consider a good book or DVD on training and tips. In addition, a beautiful journal/diary for recording their (and their horse’s) progress would make a nice and useful gift.
Spending time thinking about the gifts you would like to give in advance of the hustle-bustle of the holiday season will help you to choose wisely and come up with a gift that will be useful and long-lasting; one that you will enjoy giving as much as the recipient will enjoy receiving!