Don't look for gift horse get some horse gifts instead

EQUESTRIAN

December 20, 1992|By MUPHREN WHITNEY

Counting today, only five shopping days remain until Christmas, so here is some help for those of you looking for the perfect gift for your favorite horse person.

First of all, I hope no one is going to buy a horse or pony on impulse. A horse or pony is a full-time, if not a lifetime, commitment. And you absolutely can't pick one out for another person. This has to be an even better match than a spouse.

The next-biggest investment in any rider's life is a saddle. This is another thing that you can't pick out for someone else. A saddle not only has to fit the rider, but also has to fit the horse. And it has to fit perfectly.

Not that a saddle doesn't make a great gift. It's one of the most appreciated, but give it via a gift certificate. If you buy your gift saddle through a tack shop or through the mail, you also might consider giving a gift certificate for a professional saddle fitting.

A gift certificate is also appropriate if you want to give someone a bridle. Bridles come in a range of qualities and in many styles. Giving a gift certificate that specifies it is for a bridle will do away with your having to find out all the things you will need to know to choose the right one.

Normally, I'm not fond of gifts of money, but a gift certificate for something that can't be chosen by someone else makes sense. It also makes sense for giving services.

How about a gift certificate for a horse massage, lessons, attending a clinic, having a mane pulled or braided, a farrier or dentist visit, or for having a horse groomed?

There are hundreds of other things that riders and horses need. Some require major outlays of cash -- like a custom quilted and appliqued thermal blanket with matching hood -- and some are )) great stocking stuffers -- like a neon-colored hoof pick with a brush on one end.

Cooling-out blankets, traveling bandages, personalized halters, a name plate for the stall door, a new lead shank in colors to match the halter, a quarter sheet for the horse to wear while warming up, riding gloves and name plates for saddles and bridles are all welcomed by anyone who rides.

Thermal underwear, lined riding pants, and rain gear are all especially appreciated at this time of year. One bit of rain gear that is necessary is a pair of Tingley-type galoshes. These over-the-boot gizmos have saved a lot of expensive leather boots when there is sloshing around in the mud to do.

One of the nicest gifts I ever received was a "seat warmer." This piece of sheepskin is cut to fit the seat of a saddle. It slips over the saddle and attaches to the side with Velcro strips. It is welcome on cold days.

A great gift to make a horse's life more comfortable in cold weather is a bit warmer. This apparatus plugs into an outlet and you insert the bit until it warms up.

Something else that everyone needs, but not everyone has, is a mounting block. These can be purchased, or they can be made if you know your way around a few pieces of lumber. Another handyman special is to make some jumping poles or jumps. Sprucing up existing jumps with some paint and some repairs is also a nice thought.

If your favorite rider travels to shows a lot, consider buying personalized carriers for boots, hats, saddles, bridles and other gear. These things are not inexpensive, but buying one each Christmas and/or birthday would start a nice tradition. And these are items that really should last forever.

People laugh when I bring out the vacuum around my dirty horses -- until they see how much dirt is getting vacuumed up. This is a gift to consider seriously if your favorite horse person is always complaining about how dusty the horses are.

Clippers are another necessity for keeping the horses looking spiffy. There are heavyweight ones for doing body clips and lightweight ones that are just fine for trimming ears, muzzles, legs and bridle paths.

You don't have to go to tack stores to find jewelry, scarves, blouses, turtlenecks, ties, sweaters and other items of apparel with horsy motifs.

Mugs, china and silverware can be found with horse designs. You easily can find calendars, stationery, prints, lamps, vases and bookends.

If your inclinations lean toward the educational, try books and videos. Tack shops are a great source for either of these things. There are books and videos that cover every

aspect of horse raising and training, as well as with riding and dealing with horse problems. Or think about a subscription to a favorite horse magazine or two.

And don't forget the horse while you are out shopping. Any horse would like to see an apple in the toe of a Christmas stocking full of carrots.

Calendar of events

Through Jan. 1 -- Carriage rides in Frederick. Sundance and Victorian Carriage Companies. (410) 489-7863 or (301) 694-7433.

Dec. 20 -- Michael Klimke Clinic, Hilltop Farm, Colora, (410) 658-9898.

Dec. 24 -- Frederick Hay and Straw Auction, noon, (301) 473-8100.

Dec. 26 -- Harford County Hay and Straw Auction, noon, (410) 836-7590.

Dec. 27 -- Schooling Show, St. Michaels, (410) 745-3160.

Dec. 29 -- Carroll County Hay and Straw Auction, Westminster Livestock Auction Facility, noon, (410) 374-4067.

Dec. 31 -- Frederick Hay and Straw Auction, noon, (301) 473-8100.

Dec. 31 through Jan. 3 -- Junior and Young Rider Clinic, Hilltop Farm, Colora, (410) 658-9898.

Jan. 4 -- Maryland Horse Council meeting and election, 7:30 p.m., Goucher College, Towson.

Jan. 5, 1993 -- Carroll County Equestrian Council meeting, 7:30 p.m., East Middle School, Longwell Avenue, Westminster, (410) 833-4593.

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