Well, another year has flown by and once again we are on the threshold of the holiday season. If you find yourself stuck for ideas, here’s a selection of items to consider for your gift list. (Editor's note: Inclusion in this article does not indicate endorsement of a product, and exclusion does not indicate any fault in the product.)
Clothes for the Rider
Warm, waterproof tall boots remain highly popular and are widely seen and sported at barns and competition venues across the country. These stylish boots are available in shops and online through most major tack shops. Boots made by Dubarry retail for around $489. Santas with a smaller budget can choose from similarly styled boots available from other manufacturers, including Dublin, Middleburg,and Ovation, for around $130 to $160.
For warm weather, fashion-forward occasions, riders and non-riders alike can flaunt an equestrian-themed look with Italian leather sandals by Katharine Page (www.katharinepage.co). Available in a range of styles, each sports bridle stitching detailing on the top. For those on your gift list who love shoes with bling, the “Palm Beach” has four rows of Swarovski crystals. The sandals are available through select shops, including Beval Saddlery (www.beval.com), and retail for around $375.
With the All Weather Rider coat by Asmar Equestrian (www.asmarequestrian.com), riders can laugh at the weather when rain comes their way. Thoughtful details include zippered gussets and a hidden front skirt to cover most of the saddle. Zippered gussets at the sleeves and a detachable hood are other welcome features when the weather gets nasty. This coat is made for riding but elegant enough for pedestrian wear, too. It retails for around $320 through finer riding shops.
Technical riding jackets and britches from an increasing list of manufacturers continue to be the rage and are available in all styles and price ranges to delight the rider on your gift list. For the detail conscious, Cavalleria Toscana (Cavalleriatoscana.com) features a line of washable jackets that have real button closures at the sleeves, piping around the bottom and pockets, and contrasting faux suede collar. Navy, black, and gray are color staples but the lineup has been expanded to include royal blue and wheat.
For the rider who cannot get enough of horses during the day, Joules offers cozy horsey PJs to curl up in at night. Flannel bottoms pair up with a long-sleeved cotton shirt to ensure comfort while dreaming big dreams. These retail for around $57 and are available at shops carrying the Joules line of clothing.
When a smaller gift is more appropriate, but you still want to offer something more personal, a monogrammed saddle pad could fit the bill nicely. Some retailers even offer free monogramming services. With the extra money, perhaps you could buy yourself a little something.
Clothes for the Horse
The change of seasons is always a tricky time for horse owners. Now, a new blanket line could be the answer to endless changes during spring and fall. MIRoTEC (www.mirotec.com.au) offers a line of stable blankets that contain panels of heat-reflective material (think ‘space blankets’—those shiny silver blankets athletes use for warming). The top of the blanket allows moisture to escape, so the horse stays dry and comfortable without overheating at temperatures ranging from 20º to 60º. Reports from the field say that these blankets are quite durable and work well. They are not waterproof, so need to be overlayered with a lightweight turnout if they are staying on during turnout. Available at Beval Saddlery (www.beval.com) for around $350.
The Rambo Helix stable sheet does double-duty. It functions as a standalone sheet or layering piece when the horse is dry, and it wicks away moisture to help dry the horse when he or she is sweaty or wet from a bath. Available from major suppliers for around $110.
For those who prefer a more customized approach to clothing their horse, several manufacturers offer made-to-order clothing. Integrity Linens (www.integritylinens.com) offers rainwear, wool dress sheets, stable blankets, day sheets and quarter sheets in a choice of fabrics, colors, patterns and edging/piping. Integrity also offers a ‘ready to wear’ line of dress sheets that give a custom appearance at a more modest price point. If you are looking to compare options and pricing, check out The Clothes Horse (www.theclotheshorse.com) and Blue Ribbon Blankets (www.blueribbonblankets.com) for custom horse and dog clothing.
Accessories for the Rider
There are rider accessories to fit every budget, need and taste. The ‘usual suspects’ that are common, but nonetheless always needed, include gloves, scarves, hats, belts, crops, socks, helmet covers, spurs and horse treats (always handy for ensuring a warm welcome).
Riders can always use some sort of bag to lug things to and from the barn. The signature canvas boat bag is a durable classic that can be washed…or not. Available from L.L. Bean in a variety of trim colors and sizes, at prices ranging from $24.95 to $49.95. The bags can be personalized with a name or monogram.
For tote bags that can double as a handbag or an office tote, consider a bag from Rebecca Ray Design (www.rebeccaraydesign.com). The company offers handbags, duffels, belts, tote bags, pouches, cosmetic bags and other items in cotton, suede, nylon and bridle/harness leather. Many of the bags feature charming vintage designs.
With all the fancy new stirrup designs and materials that are now available, a pair of new stirrups is a fun gift idea. Popular lightweight stirrups include Royal Rider, which are made of DuPont Technopolymer and come with two sets of interchangeable pads; Jin stirrups, which are made of aluminum and feature an extra wide base for added stability; and the new FreeJump Soft’Up Pro stirrups, which are made of polymer and have a flexible outer branch and an open top. For the traditionalist, a solid heavy pair of bright and shiny Fillis stirrups might bring great holiday joy. Prices range from $69.95 for traditional Fillis irons to $395 for the new FreeJump style.
The Trailblazer Headlamp is a great item that belongs in every tack trunk. Perfect for early morning preparations when leaving for a show or examining a wound in a poorly lit barn. It operates for up to 200 hours (red setting) and runs on AAA batteries (included). Available from L.L. Bean (www.llbean.com) for $29.95.
For riders who haul their own horses, how about giving a membership to U.S.Rider (www.usrider.org)? Besides peace of mind, this nationwide roadside assistance service offers towing for vehicles and horse trailers, repairs, battery/flat tire/lockout assistance, emergency veterinary services and stabling arrangements, and vet/farrier referral services. Services are available 24/7.
For the rider who enjoys learning, a gift subscription to Equestrian Coach is an “accessory” for the brain that is sure to please. Members choose from an all-star lineup of instructors, and download videos at their own convenience. Practical topics include horse/rider suppleness exercises, getting over fear, gymnastics, ground work, jumping techniques, and principles of effective flat work.
Accessories for the Horse
Have a horse that’s distracted by noise at competitions? A soundproof earbonnet, which has padded ears to dampen sound, can help keep him or her focused on the task at hand. Manufactured by Schockemohle Sports, the bonnet is available in a variety of colors through SmartPak (www.smartpakequine.com) and other select retailers for around $63.00.
Spa products are an idea especially suited for the horse who has sensitive skin or an owner who dislikes using chemical products. For those who prefer a more organic approach to horse care, Espree (www.espree.com) sells a line of natural fly sprays, body washes, and shampoos. Ecolicious Equestrian (www.ecolicious.com) offers a large array of products for both horses and rider (in case you need to give a ‘pony and me’ gift) that are free of chemicals, silicones and parabens. Choose from among shampoos, mane and tail conditioners and hoof care serum. They also offer a waterless deep cleaning shampoo, for those late winter days when you can no longer stand dirty manes and tails. All products available online and through some local tack shops, at prices that are competitive with “traditional” horse care products.
Natural fiber brushes always make a lovely gift that both the horse and his/her owner can enjoy every day. German-made Haas brushes feature natural materials, including cocoa fibers, goat hair and horse hair. These materials produce outstanding shine and are easy to clean and maintain. The brushes can be purchased individually or as a set, and are priced competitively. Available online at Reinhold’s Horse Wellness store (www.horsewellness-store.com).
A practical gift is the Equifit T-Foam Agsilver standing wrap. Beyond providing therapeutic support and compression, these wraps have silver-plated antimicrobial fabric to protect against bacterial growth. And because the silver conducts heat, the wraps increase blood flow. A ‘smart fabric’ lining prevents buildup of excessive heat and moisture. Available from retailers such as Dover (www.dover.com) for $149.99.
For the Barn, Truck and Trailer
For a novel gift idea, try the Blue Ribbon Lap Warmer, made of 100% Melton wool with faux beaver lining. Order it in barn colors and customize it with a monogram or barn name. Perfect for chilly mornings on the golf cart or watching lessons or a clinic in the indoor. This luxurious gift is normally priced at $185, but Blue Ribbon offers a holiday special pricing. Available from Blue Ribbon Blankets (www.blueribbonblankets.com).
For the opposite end of the spectrum—very basic things for the barn—how about a hoof pick for every stall door? The hanging pick is a handy reminder to pick hooves when horses come in from turnout. And, if riders are mindful about replacing them back to the hanging hook, they shouldn’t disappear.
Muck forks, brooms, and a wheeled muck bucket are always handy to have in the barn or trailer. Some forks feature a basket design and are especially efficient for picking up in the arena.
Boarders on a budget might consider joining together to give the barn a ‘labor party.’ Make a master list of cleanup tasks or beautification/organization projects that need to be done, and enlist volunteers to do the work. This can be turned into a party, where everyone brings food or a beverage to enjoy once the work is done. Boarders get to know each other a little better, and the barn will benefit from the makeover.
This is just a small sampling of gift ideas—the possibilities are endless. With a little thought and creativity, you can have a gift-giving season that will keep you warm all year long.
The author wishes to offer pecial thanks to Shannon Schaffer, Director of Stores for Beval Saddlery in New Canaan, Connecticut, for her time and thoughtful presentation of some of these items.