Written by western riders for western riders, here are a few gift ideas that aren’t actually all bogged down by rhinestones (there is more to the western world, after all).
Every year we throw a lot of gift guides at you, trying to guess what we think readers might like based on their discipline of choice and some random objects that we all use in our daily life. If you’re like me, you don’t actually need yet another travel mug with a sliding reiner on it or a bumper sticker that says “giddy up”…
So this year, I’m trying something different. I’m a western rider with a ranch/cowhorse focus, but I don’t collect a lot of tchotchkes or stuff I don’t really need. Here’s my holiday gift guide to help you find the perfect gift for the western folks in your life.
Things for the horse:
“Love me, love my horse” is usually a safe bet when you’re gifting for an equestrian. We genuinely enjoy getting the things our horses need. That said, walking into the tack store and buying the first thing you see is probably a bad call. Personally, I appreciate it more if someone doesn’t try to pick out what they think my horse needs. Unless the equestrian in your life has expressly written down a very specific item, you’re better off going the gift certificate route:
- Gift cards to local feed stores or tack shops
- Online gift cards (I’m a big fan of SmartPak, which carries almost everything)
- Make-your-own gift certificate: redeemable for the next farrier visit, chiropractor or masseuse
Horses are expensive, and while we love to spoil them with random stuff they may or may not actually need, having some of the day-to-day expenses put on someone else’s tab is a really great gesture that is bound to be appreciated.
Quick pick: Absolutely want to get the horse something but don’t know a thing about sizes, specific needs or brands? Back on Track Therapeutic Quick Wraps are easy to use and have numerous applications. If you have zero idea what size to get, opt for a middle size around 12″-14″ — they might be slightly big on some horses and slightly small for others, but the beauty of these quick wraps is that there’s plenty of wiggle room.
Things for the rider:
Okay, so maybe for once you don’t want to get something for the horse. That’s understandable! If you still want to show your equestrian that you’re paying attention to their horsey focus, there are plenty of ways to get them something they’ll actually use (as opposed to a screen-printed tee shirt with a cartoon horse and a kitschy slogan that will promptly be put in the donation bin).
I do all of my riding outdoors in the elements — that includes rain and snow if there’s a need to get cattle moved on that particular day. A few things riders like me would appreciate:
- Leather winter riding gloves
- Boot socks
- Waterproof coat (winter or summer)
- Polarized sunglasses (I like Knockaround — I’ve ridden in these for years and while they show signs of use, they’ve held up really well but aren’t so spendy that I hesitate to use them)
As far as waterproof coats go, I like the concept of the old-school cowboy slicker, but frankly I never bother to do the snaps around my legs, so a good riding rain coat with enough drop to cover my thighs does the trick.
Western riders, unlike English riders with the luxury of mixing and matching their square pad every day, choose their saddle pads very specifically to complement their saddle fit. I can get away with a bit of day-to-day fun in using a different saddle blanket on top of my pad (Mayatex makes the best blankets with the most gorgeous patterns and color options). Some riders won’t use a blanket at all. If you’re not sure about your rider, best to err on the side of caution.
A highly-underrated but bound-to-be-appreciated gift is to be the groom/photographer for a day: go with your equestrian to the barn to take photos, video their ride or hold stuff for them.
I don’t know what it is about riding western that makes everyone assume that I want stars and barbs on everything or The End of the Trail sculpture holding up my living room lamps or dreamcatchers hanging in every window. This may appeal to some folks. This probably does appeal to some western riders. I assume that anyone giving me a gift has been in my home enough to know that that’s not for me.
That said, a few tasteful western-inspired pieces scattered throughout my home do appeal to my particular sensibilities. I love the southwestern patterns on the nice wool blankets from Sackcloth & Ashes — they look nice draped over the back of my couch and they’re also super-warm and cozy as a curl-up blanket. (Bonus: for every blanket purchased, the company donates a blanket to your local homeless shelter.)
I am a fan of a conservatively-colored and -rhinestoned handbag, and I actually have this particular bag by Montana West. It’s really nicely decorated but isn’t over-the-top with the bling.
Sneaking in a horse here and there is fun to do when they’re on a piece of hand-thrown pottery, such as this gorgeous bowl I found on Etsy. It’s a nice way to remind dinner guests that while I do love horses and will talk endlessly about my horse for hours on end if they let me, I am also a human being who can occasionally think and converse about other things as well — give me the chance and I’ll turn the conversation to talk about you for a change.
Above all else, regardless of discipline, the equestrian in your life for whom you’re trying to find the perfect gift will simply be happy that you’re respecting their passion and trying your hardest. It’s the thought that truly counts at the holidays.