When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have to wonder what I wanted for Christmas. Before getting my first horse at the age of 12, that was pretty much the only thing on the list. After getting O’Malley, I would simply circle hundreds of items gracing the pages of the Kauffman and Miller’s catalogs. Everything from sweat sheets to sweaters, bandages to bits—not much missed inclusion on my lists, which were organized in order of each item’s appearance in the catalog, to make things easier for my parents.
While Kauffman and Miller’s have long since disappeared as gift sources for equiphiles, wish lists haven’t changed much for millions of horse-crazy kids and adults across the country. A gift card to your local tack store may seem like the perfect gift to you, and you would still like that horse, right?
But if your family isn’t as accommodating (or simply as resigned) as mine was, or you already have a horse, what are some other things you can add to your list that will mesh with your desire to “go horsey or go home,” while honoring the needs of your significant others to get you something a little different? Here’s a list—by no means comprehensive—of some possible presents to ask your loved ones for this holiday season.
When money isn’t an issue
While there may not be too many people in this category, it’s certainly nice to dream. Here are a few things you can ask your favorite big spender to wrap up for you, along with a couple of lower-priced options in the same categories.
A new truck or trailer. If you’ve already got the horse and you’re hauling a lot, getting a newer truck may end up saving you money on fuel and repair bills in the long run. Suggest to your gift-giver that if they go this route, they simply give you a card saying that this is what your gift will be. If you’re going to be the driver, you’ll definitely want input on make, model color and accessory packages. If your Santa baby feels bad about you just having a card to open on the big day, have them attach it to a toy truck or trailer or a dummy key. There is room for creativity here.
Budget won’t run to a new truck or love the truck you have? What about some great roadside protection? USRider is a roadside assistance plan developed especially for people towing horses—I’ve used my membership to have my 1979 MGB carted home on a flatbed more than once during my 10-year+ membership! Membership offers benefits such as emergency trip interruption veterinary services and emergency stabling arrangements. www.USRider.org.
A riding vacation. This is one that your semi-horsey family can join in on. Love the Lord of the Rings books and movies? Consider a trip to New Zealand with a chance to ride through some of the beautiful scenery and even visit some of the sets shown in the movies. Dart Stables (www.dartstables.com) in New Zealand is one of your options. Prices for the rides themselves top out at 315 New Zealand dollars per person, but of course you’ll need to factor in airfare, food, ground transport and lodging.
Equitours (www.equitours.com) provides trips in destinations as exotic as the South Pacific; Asia; Central and South America; Africa and Asia,as well as North America. An option that doesn’t require a passport? There are literally hundreds of farms and ranches across North America that provide everything from a one-hour trail ride through a two-week immersion in the discipline of your choice. A good travel agent or Google are your friends in this category.
For a somewhat more moderate budget. If your gift giver is a member of the 99 percent, there are still plenty of options to tickle every horse lover’s fancy. These are broken down by category, rather than price range, but all fall within the “more-affordable-than-a-truck” category.
Feel-good options for you and your horse
You can run the gamut here, including feel-good-for-the-soul items like a major donation to your favorite horse rescue, such as Brook Hill Farm (www.brookhillfarm.org), or the Virginia Horse Center (www.horsecenter.org). These options are also a great way for you to give a thoughtful gift to that person-with-everything on your shopping list, while giving to something you love and believe in.
Alternately, you can go the route of products or services that make hard-working horses and their people a little more comfortable at the end of the day. TheraPlate (www.TheraPlate.com) offers a range of products for horses and humans. Their Vortex Wave Stimulation therapy has proved helpful in preventing and treating a number of issues in horses, humans and even dogs. Respond Systems (www.respondsystems.com) has a line of cold laser and bio-pulse treatment products for horses, humans and smaller companion animals. Their products are available to rent as well as purchase. Heading down the price scale a bit, Back on Track’s products are made of fibers that have ceramic particles fused to them, creating “long-wave infrared radiation therapy.” Products for horses, humans and dogs are available. (www.BackonTrackProducts.com).
There are as many educational opportunities for riders out there as there are hairs on a 35-year-old Shetland. Dressage rider? How about one of the online training opportunities like www.DressageTrainingOnline.com or www.DressageClinic.com. Videos by top trainers from around the world provide a chance to learn from the best. Dressage Training Online offers a sister program for event riders: www.EventingTrainingOnline.com. While there currently are no similar programs for hunter/jumper, gaited horse, or western riders, there are thousands of DVD programs from trainers such as George Morris, Helen Crabtree and Chris Cox.
If you prefer learning in person, a donation to your clinic fund would be a great gift. While many clinics are free for auditors, wouldn’t it be nice to combine a great weekend of learning with a stay at a lovely bed and breakfast and a meal at a local bistro?
Let’s not forget the old standby: books! Thousands of horse books are available not only in print (for the new book smell, printed paper lovers among us), but also on your handy tablet, which can double as a camera, GPS device and answerer-of-all-questions (thank you, Google) while you’re at it.
Do you dream of a little time away to immerse yourself and your horse in a good educational experience? Many local organizations, including the Southwest Virginia Dressage Association (www.SWVADA.com), have adult camps for their members. Camps can be as short as a weekend and as long as a week or more. Most will not only have a well-respected instructor, but also good food; perhaps yoga, Pilates or other exercise classes; a massage therapist and plenty of camaraderie and sharing in the evenings.
If trail riding is your thing, membership in one of the many trail riding organizations in the state would be a perfect gift. Bookmark www.horsetalkmagazine.com/trailriding/ on your favorite shopper’s browser, and let them browse their way to a perfect gift for you.
Many women are rumored to hate receiving any sort of household item for a holiday gift, but with horse-themed throws, lamps, sheets, and bookends, these are some presents that will make your home sweet home just a little sweeter. Whether your tastes run to western prints or you prefer a toile design, Back in the Saddle has you (and your bed) covered. Take your horsey home decor to another level with bookends, wall art, kitchen and bath items, including some cute drawer pulls, and rugs. www.BackintheSaddle.com.
Here is a sackful of great ideas, practical and whimsical, for Santa to slip into your stocking this year. Promise you’ve been good, and see what the jolly old elf leaves for you!
• Toastie Toes ~ ingenious little activated charcoal packets that adhere to your socks and keep your feet warm for up to eight hours.
• LED Head Lamp ~ Perfect for those winter evening barn checks. My daughter got mine, a Petzl, from a running store. They’re available in a variety of price points, styles and colors.
• Bath Salts ~ Something as simple as Dr. Teals Epsom Salts Soaking Solution (www.drteals.com) or as lavish as Epona’s Rider’s Reward (www.eponaproducts.com), a good soak after a long day in the barn is the perfect gift.
• Horse Cookies ~ Flavors, styles and ingredients to tickle the taste buds of any horse. Some, like Majesty’s Flex Wafers, Majesty’s Bio+ and Majesty’s Flex HA even offer therapeutic benefits. (www.Majestys.com).
• Movies ~ The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Horse With the Flying Tail, Sylvester, The Miracle of the White Stallions. Ever want to just curl up with a good movie? These classics (all available at www.amazon.com) are a great way to spend some horsey time with your family. Don’t forget the popcorn!
• Horsey Tees ~ Who can have too many tees? From generic to custom, there are horsey tees available to fit everyone’s taste. Send your Santa to your nearest tack shop for some ideas.
• Name plate bracelets or belts ~ A great way to keep your favorite horse with you, even when you can’t be at the barn. Leather bracelets or belts with brass nameplates make a functional, as well as horsey, present to add to your list.
• Coffee Mug ~ Face it, you’re not really ready to greet the morning and the morning barn chores until you’ve had at least your first cup of coffee. Coffee mugs with horsey designs can be found at most tack stores or online retailers.
• Dark Horse Chocolates. ~ Love chocolates and horses? Dark Horse Chocolates earn the blue ribbon. Yummy concoctions like Peppermint Ponies, Dressage Classics and Grand Prix Jumpers wrap delicious fillings in dark or milk chocolate. www.Harborsweets.com.
Whether you’re a horse owner or still in the dreaming stage, we hope this list has provided you with some great ideas to add to your holiday wish list. Please feel free to log into our Facebook page and let us know what’s on YOUR holiday wish list this year!
Penny Hawes is a freelance writer from Monroe, Va. She likes to spend time being thankful for her gifts, including her husband, James, and daughter, Sarah, and the horses, cats and dogs who make their lives complete.