If you ask me, having to buy a present for a horse person is a massive pain in the hindquarters. As a horse person myself, I understand the dilemma. Every horse-crazy individual probably has a massive wish list of tack, equipment, adorable knick-knacks and sassy barn signs that they’d like to add to their already equine-heavy lives, but it tends to be a very specific list, and even for a fellow horse person it can be impossible to get right. For somebody who doesn’t know a manure fork from a salad fork, buying anything horsey can be downright impossible. Tack is easy enough to rule out: it’s usually expensive, requires specific measurements, and isn’t worth bothering with as a gift if you don’t know exactly what you’re buying. The same problem crops up with more mundane items. Does your giftee prefer flat halters or rope halters? Does she use only one specific brand and shun all others? Is this muck bucket you found in the tack store the kind she loves because they last longer than a week, or the kind she’s always cursing because they break if you so much as look at them funny? Will his horse eat carrot-flavored treats or does he only like the peppermint ones? It all gets a bit fraught after awhile.
The obvious route, then, is horse-themed items of a less practical nature. Horse people seem to be pretty happy with any gift featuring an equine, and entering their homes you’re likely to see Breyer horses on the bookshelves and horse photos on the walls and pony silhouettes on the bedspreads. Even those get tiresome, though, when you notice that pretty much every horse equipment catalog carries exactly the same collection of apparel and home decor. (I do want to offer a brief tip of the hat, however, to Back in the Saddle, which tends to offer a wider and much more interesting selection of these sorts of goods than your standard everything-horses catalog. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to offer them up in the comments!)
For my own part, I no longer buy gifts for the horse lovers in my life through catalogs. In fact, I’ve taken to buying handmade items directly from artists, usually through Etsy.com. I have an Etsy shop of my own where I sell some pretty sweet little horsey items (I’ll get into a little shameless self-promotion later), but as a buyer I love Etsy purely because you can find something completely original, that your giftee didn’t even know existed, and you can directly support crafters and artists by buying from them. I’ll also highlight here a few services and whatnot that I think are highly underrated as gifts, but my aim here is entirely to expose you to some awesome new stuff that you might want to buy for your friends or for yourself. I’ll likely post a few more lists like this one as we draw nearer the holidays, so if you have a favorite seller of equine goods or are a seller yourself and you’d like me to check out your stuff, please feel free to offer it up in the comments.
I’d like to also point out that I don’t know any of the sellers mentioned, have not dealt with most of these vendors or products personally, and have received no freebies or anything else for my endorsements. I just think the items and services listed here are awesome. And now, without further ado:
Five Awesome and Unique Gifts for Horse Lovers, In No Particular Order
As services go, I think Giddyupflix is one of the coolest inventions of all time. As the name implies, it’s essentially Netflix for horse people, and their selection of available DVDs is so diverse that it doesn’t particularly matter which specific brands of horsemanship your giftee likes most, they’ll be able to find a staggering number of rentals to choose from. This is also a particularly thrifty gift since with horsemanship videos, a single disc can cost three or four times as much as you’d pay to buy your favorite new Hollywood release on DVD. This way your giftee can explore topics of interest to them specifically — whether they want to learn about horseshoeing or trick training, rawhide braiding or wild horse taming, showjumping or mounted shooting — without spending a fortune. Unfortunately the service is only available in the US and Canada, though, so if your giftee resides outside those countries, you might want to take a look at the rest of the list for some other suggestions.
Cost: From $10.95/month to rent one disc at a time to $26.95/month for four discs at a time. When purchasing a gift membership, you can decide what level of membership you’d like to gift and for how long a duration, so this is a great flexible gift as far as cost goes.
Store-bought etched glass has nothing on the beauty of Carol Koch’s hand-painted pieces. The first time I saw Carol’s work on Etsy I fell in love with the bright colors and the beautiful motion in her paintings. She has a wide range of different types of glassware available, from votive candle holders to wine glasses to Christmas ornaments and suncatchers. There’s also something for all kinds of breeds and disciplines, from Gypsy Vanners to show jumpers.
Cost: Prices range from about $15 for smaller and individual pieces to around $100 for larger pieces and matched sets of glassware.
Normally I’m against this kind of thing. I particularly loathe the fly masks that are painted to look like sunglasses. It’s a thing I have. This, though? This is hilarious. This is one of the best things I have seen ever. It’s cute enough not to look totally humiliating and it’s also made in a great vibrant orange that makes it good safety-wear for hunting season. Mostly I just want to see every well-dressed foxhunting pair sporting this stylish ear covering. Just think! Foxhunters won’t even need dogs, they can sneak up on the foxes with cunning disguises! EquiEars also sells other custom fly bonnets and and they’ll even personalize with monogramming and appliques and whatnot, so be sure to check out the entire shop!
Cost: $40, plus shipping
Custom Horsehair Jewelry & Accessories by Spirithorse Designs
You can buy all sorts of pre-made horsehair designs, including bracelets, earrings, necklaces, zipper pulls, and keychains. You can also have items custom-made with your own horse’s hair, which is a particularly great memorial for a beloved companion who has passed on. There are a variety of different designs and different sorts of braids and knotwork available, with both intricate and simple options available, and you have your choice of different beads, ornaments, pendants, and colors to make your own piece truly unique. The artist sells gift certificates as well, which is a great option particularly if you aren’t able to order far enough in advance for Christmas or whatever gift-giving occasion you’re after.
Cost: Prices range from around $15-25 for something simple like a zipper pull, up to $50-90 for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
I’m a huge fan of vinyl wall art. I love that it doesn’t damage your walls and it’s a great way to give a room a little extra decoration, especially if you’re a renter and you don’t want to deal with painting and repainting. It’s also great for people like me who like to change their lives by rearranging their rooms. Vinyl art is easy to apply and easy to remove, and you can do just about anything with it. There are a lot of vinyl artists on Etsy so there’s a pretty staggering array of vinyl available if you search for what you’re after, but one of my favorites is aluckyhorseshoe because this particular shop has a great variety of different horse-themed art available, some with customization options, and a portion of their proceeds goes to help support horse rescue.
Cost: About $20-40, depending on the size of the art.
And Now For The Shameless Self-Promotion!
I’ve been working on my own line of products, mostly horse-related, which I sell in my own Etsy shop, Bright Strange Things. I have a bunch of new stuff in development, but at the moment my most popular products by far are the Christmas tree ornaments I make out of copper wire. They’re pretty awesome if I say so myself; I make them in a variety of colors and poses, and their little legs swing like they’re running when you touch them. They make great year-round decoration too, as a hanging ornament from your rear-view mirror or wherever else you can find to hang them. Maybe your ornate crystal chandelier, I don’t even know. They’re classy as hell, is what I’m saying. Check out my shop for pre-made ornaments, and the option to order a custom-made piece in your choice of colors and poses, or if you’re after something else, I also have a variety of photo prints and a few t-shirts on hand, so I hope you’ll take a look!
If you have favorite handmade sellers, if you make horse-themed items yourself, or if you just have really strong opinions about decoupage, please share your thoughts in the comments!