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Horse Shoe Holiday ‘Wreaths’: A DIY Guide

Add a little horsey flair to your decorations this season! Kristen Kovatch gets a little crafty and shares the process for turning old horse shoes into delightful “wreaths” for home or stable.

All photos by Kristen Kovatch.

All photos by Kristen Kovatch.

Let me preface this with the disclaimer that I don’t do a lot of crafting. Yes, I’d love to be the kind of woman who lives in a Pinterest-perfect home right out of the pages of Better Homes & Gardens… but, you know, horses.

That said, I had a fit of craftiness over the weekend, bringing a little bit of the barn home for the holidays! (Bonus: especially if your horse has four shoes, you can easily make a design for each season — let yourself get creative!)

Supplies:

  • Horse shoes (I used old shoes from my own horses, but I’d imagine you can buy old shoes online as well)
  • Leather lace (0.125″, or whatever gauge will fit the nail holes)
  • Mod Podge
  • Your favorite adhesive that works on metal (I used Gorilla Glue… more on that later)
  • Ribbon
  • Seasonal garland, floral picks, or natural flora (pine, holly, twigs — whatever you like!)

I used some old shoes from the last shoeing cycle, a mix of small shoes from one of my light horses and some big shoes with borium and toe clips from one of my drafts. The first step was to clean the shoes up a bit — they had a light patina of rust as well as some dirt and stuff ground into the grooves as they had admittedly been sitting in a pile in the corner of my tack room for awhile, so I soaked each shoe for a few minutes in white vinegar and then scrubbed them with some steel wool. As you can see, they brightened right up!

As good as new! (ish)

As good as new! (ish)

I used leather lace to make a hanger — I’ve found the leather to be quite strong and stout for supporting the weight of a shoe, even the big draft clunkers! I tied a knot and ran the lace through the nail holes on both sides:

Plenty of excess lace so I can adjust length.

Plenty of excess lace so I can adjust length.

After I tied the knot where I needed it, I trimmed the tails off and then dipped each knot in good ol’ Mod Podge, which dries clear but prevents the knots from ever coming untied. It goes on like white glue (and smells like glue too) and does need to dry for a few moments, so during this step I recommend pouring yourself a glass of wine and putting up your feet for a few moments.

Legit, when did they last update the Mod Podge label?

Legit, when did they last update the Mod Podge label?

I discovered after the Mod Podge had dried that the shoe didn’t in fact hang as balanced as I would have liked, so I flipped the shoe over and used Gorilla Glue to attach the leather lace to the shoe itself. Note: the Mod Podge did appear to adhere pretty well to the metal shoe, and also dries WAY faster than the Gorilla Glue, so I might use the Mod Podge as my “adhesive of choice” next time and save myself a lot of time.

Gorilla Glue also requires the use of clamps.

Gorilla Glue also requires the use of clamps.

While your adhesives are drying, prepare your decorations. I cheated a bit, perhaps, and bought these convenient pre-arranged picks and garlands from a big-box craft store. (I greatly enjoyed stomping around in my muck boots with all the other holiday crafters, getting my barn coat snagged on various sparkly things and resisting the urge to buy just about everything in coordinating colors.)

The picks were a bit long for these wee shoes, so I trimmed them down a bit and Frankensteined pieces off of the garland to get exactly the look I wanted. The convenient thing about using these wire-cored picks is that they’re flexible, so I could bend the wire to fit the curve of the shoe.

At this point, while waiting for glue to dry, I had also consumed enough wine to stick Christmas things on my patient dog who wandered over to see what I was doing. (No, not with the glue.)

Good dog.

Good dog.

No WONDER they do so many wine + craft nights.

Anyway.

All the shiny things.

All the shiny things. Note: glitter does, in fact, stick to everything. Western show riders know this already.

The fun part is arranging the decorative bits on each shoe: I liked the asymmetrical look, but this is where each individual equestrian can design their “wreath” the way they like it. For the larger draft shoes, I’ll do a more symmetrical arrangement with a bow in the middle.

Pick and bow ready to go.

Pick and bow ready to go.

Waiting for yet more glue to dry. Gorilla Glue is good stuff but if you want to do all of these in the course of a day, I'd choose a faster-drying adhesive.

Waiting for yet more glue to dry. Gorilla Glue is good stuff but if you want to do all of these in the course of a day, I’d choose a faster-drying adhesive.

This craft can be really personalized — you could add a tag with the horse’s name to whom the shoe belonged, or perhaps a little nameplate with your family name or farm name. These days holiday decorations come in every color under the sun, so you can pick your barn or team colors and go to town. The possibilities are endless!

The finished product! I like the asymmetrical look, personally, but you can do this any way you like!

The finished product! I like the asymmetrical look, personally, but you can do this any way you like!

What creative holiday decorations have you done with a horsey theme? Show us in the comments!

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