You want to show your equine practitioners some love for all their hard work, but when it comes to gift-giving, you’re stumped. Lauren Nethery is here with some sure-to-please suggestions.
Let’s face it. Without our equine practitioners, we riders and trainers would be up Excrement Creek without a water-displacing implement. Our horses would be sick, lame, sore, Coggins-less, and elf-footed. From the most mundane medical maladies to extreme emergencies, our farriers and vets are always there at our beck and call to take the best care of our dearest friends. Bearing this in mind, I always try to do something special for each of my horse’s care providers. Whether it’s a $10 Starbucks gift card or a $300 farrier apron, it really is the thought that counts and I encouraged you to use this list of the Top 10 Gift Suggestions for Your Farrier or Vet as inspiration to brighten their holiday season (it’s not too late–still a business week until Christmas!).
1. Gift cards are simple, basic, always needed, and do not require a trip to the circus/mall. I suggest Starbucks, Panera, Cold Stone Creamery, Walmart, any gas station (BP, Shell, etc.), or a special favorite establishment that your practitioner just loves to treat themselves to.
2. Do not be afraid to employ the help of your practitioner’s spouses at a time like this. Ask their husbands/wives/children/technicians/apprentices what they really NEED. This can vary wildly and may take some creativity on your part. As an example, this year I went to the local farrier supply store and asked the boss man exactly what my farrier needed and he directed me to an elk horn hoof knife. I also interrogated my vet’s wife and son until we all settled on a new, leather, 32’ long lunge line for soundness exams complete with big brass snap, disc on the end to limit the loose horses potential, and snazzy new nameplate. I haven’t given my vet his gift yet but my farrier swore up and down it was his favorite gift all year. Something that your practitioner can actually USE on a day to day basis is often the best choice when choosing a gift.
3. Custom-made leather work cannot be beat for a gift that isn’t too expensive but employs a personal touch and really makes a statement about how much your appreciate your practitioner’s work. I went to Linda Scott of Linda’s Leather (859-321-7284) and she has made me everything from nameplate bracelets and belts to full chaps for me, farrier aprons, and everything in between.
4. This brings me to my next point: Obviously, the “farrier apron” and belt pictured above are a little small for the average-sized burly man/farrier. I have found that my practitioner’s children, especially if they are under the age of 10 or so, are their entire world. Sentimental gifts “for” your practitioner’s children will sometimes bring them even more joy than gifts for themselves. This can be any number of things from a longed-for stuffed pony from Build A Bear, to a miniature version of something Mommy or Daddy uses, to breeches for the budding equestrian. Again, creativity is a plus!
5. With all of the bumps, kicks, bites, and bruises that most equine practitioners endure on a daily basis, consider a gift certificate to a local spa for a day of pampering. Even for the male service providers, a massage can go a long way to alleviating those sore shoulders/backs/legs. Places like Massage Envy offer introductory massages for $39!
6. All of us that are professional horsemen and horsewomen have a hard time getting any time to ourselves. Consider a gift certificate to a hotel chain or to one of those little log cabin companies in your local recreation area. These usually range in price from $50-$120 per night and have at least a year’s worth of validity. While your horse will invariable choose that weekend that your farrier is gone to pull a shoe, I promise you they will appreciate the down time.
7. If you own or operate a business or farm, anything emblazoned with the establishment’s name and logo are both great advertising and still contain that personal touch. Last year all of my boarders and clients received key chain sized “swiss army” type multi-tools with the farm name and logo etched into one side. This year, all farm and business related associates received toboggan type hats (in different colors and styles depending on the individual to add a little personal flare) with the farm logo and their names embroidered into them. Both the hats and the knives cost around $10 each including personalization and were very well received by all.
8. Speaking of attire, all equine practitioners spend entire MONTHS of their lives out in the elements. No horses ever seem to get sick or throw shoes when it’s sunny and 60 degrees outside. So in the spirit of keeping your favorite people warm and dry, consider a very nice piece of outerwear to complement their wardrobe. For the budget minded, a good pair of gloves or Smartwool socks can really do away with that winter chill. Good boots, a nice rain jacket, or a fleece pullover all are needed and appreciated as well and can even include your logo as you see fit.
9. We all know the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this is also true for pretty much all of our equine practitioners, male and female. A box of chocolates, bottle of wine, gift basket from your local bakery, or even a tin of homemade Christmas cookies is sure to bring a smile to their face and chase the rumble from their bellies.
Cookies Made From Scratch by Lauren Clark
10. If all else fails and you cannot come up with a suitable gift for one or more of your favorite equine caretakers, a handmade gift (which can often be FREE!) that can be as simple as a framed picture or a card drawn by your own hand or even a letter expressing your gratitude for all that your practitioner does for you can really mean a lot to the giftee. Again, it’s the thought that counts and as long as you let those that keep your horses sound and healthy know how much you appreciate them this and every holiday season, that is all that matters!