This holiday season promises to be a season like no other, not unlike most of 2020 has been. While many of us will be making new traditions this year, here’s another one to try on: Christmas for your horse.
Sure, you’re probably already buying him some special holiday treats (and if not, we have some great suggestions for you below!), but why not spoil your mount or lesson buddy with a little something extra to show how much you appreciate him.
Whether your mount is a high-performing competitor, a backyard companion, or a hard-working school horse, we’ve put together some excellent options for every price range. So grab a hot chocolate and peruse the ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Horses!
For the School Horse
Whether he’s your occasional lesson mount or your long time lease or part board, the schoolie is probably one of the hardest working horses you know. Pretty much every equestrian started out taking lessons on school horses, so be sure to show yours how much you appreciate the patience and willing attitude these horse heroes show day after day.
A Plush Half Pad
For a horse who spends a lot of time under a saddle, keeping his back as comfortable as possible is essential. While a saddle pad is never a substitute for a well-fitting saddle, a thick, plush half pad with real sheepskin like the Harleigh Rising Half Pad can help keep him comfortable, and the open spine channel helps reduce strain and increase ventilation on his back.
Take a “hands on” approach to giving your horse a good grooming! Treat your favorite schoolie to a little more than a quick curry & brush with Hands On grooming gloves, perfect for getting deep into the coat to remove dirt but also gentle enough to use over the lower leg. Bonus: they’re also great for dogs, cats, and other furry friends, too!
A girth cover isn’t just a great way to prevent saddle sores and protect sensitive skin- a personal girth cover can protect your lesson horse or part boarder from infectious skin diseases like girth itch.
A Hay Ball holds enough to keep a horse busy but is a little more interesting than your standard hay net. It gives him something to play with and releases just a mouthful at a time for hours of activity. Put it in his paddock or tie it to his stall wall, but be careful using it on the stall floor for horses who tend to munch on their bedding, as he may grab some bedding along with a mouthful of hay.
Who doesn’t love a good scratch? Chances are, your horse does! Give your favorite stall dweller the treat of a scratch-on-demand with a Scratch N All Scratch Pad. Mount it in his stall or run-in shed. Start with one, or add a few more for the ultimate scratching experience! They’re also great for other pets too.
Also an excellent choice for horses with Cushing’s or other metabolic conditions, Herbit’s natural treats are sugar-free, making them a great choice for the horse on a predetermined ration. They come in yummy flavors like Apple, Spearmint, Licorice, and Cinnamon.
Uncle Jimmy’s Licky Thing is a classic and trusted by pro equestrians from Grand Prix Rider Quincy Hayes to Olympic Gold Medalist Peter Charles to keep their horses occupied while stall bound. The delicious treat ball is a classic, and it’s great for keeping horses busy for hours.
One important caveat if you’re planning to gift treats: check with your trainer or barn manager before feeding a school horse treats. Overfeeding treats can result in colic—a painful stomach upset and the #1 killer of horses (except old age). Check with whoever is responsible for the horse’s care and diet before feeding anything additional to their daily ration.
Alternatively, drop off treats in the barn office for the whole stable – a great way to show your appreciation to the herd without causing upset stomachs or “where’s MY treat?” jealousy.
For the Equine Athlete
Whether he’s an OTTB, a young horse in training, your fellow competitor, or a seasoned campaigner enjoying the schooling circuit, equine athletes come in all forms. If you ask a lot of your horse, remember to repay the favor this holiday season (and all year round) with gifts to help him relax and recuperate.
Magnetic Poll Piece
Also available as a browband attachment, the Professional’s Choice Magnetic Poll Piece can help calm nervous horses. Magnetic therapy also reduces inflammation and can even relieve the symptoms of TMJ in horses – a common cause of pain, poor performance, and behavioral problems, which sadly often goes undiagnosed.
Thermal Therapy Wraps
If you’re battling sore, swollen legs with your performance horse, try a product like the Back on Track Quick Wraps. An update on the tried-and-true stall bandage, these wraps use the horse’s own heat to soothe tired muscles. And you’ll like them, too—their all-in-one design means you don’t have to struggle with leg wraps and bandages.
Are you still using rubbing alcohol to soothe tired legs? If you’re looking to upgrade your horse’s post-workout routine, try a liniment like the classic Absorbine Liniment to warm and rejuvenate tired legs. Bonus: it also treats skin conditions like rain rot and scratches and hoof problems like thrush and white line disease. And you can use it on cuts, too.
A multi-purpose Fleece Blanket makes a great blanket liner, cooler, or light-duty cover. Stow it in his tack trunk to cover him at shows, cool him out, keep him warm, or fold it in half for a quick quarter sheet to warm up cold muscles.
Do you know who likes a cold bath in the middle of winter? No one! Least of all your horse. Take care of any touch-ups with Cowboy Magic Dry Shampoo to handle green spots, sweat, stains and dirt without rinsing. Just spray in and brush out.
Shires Ball Feeder is a great gift idea for any horse on a grain ration, regardless of what his job is. It gives him something to play with all day (great for relieving boredom), releases grain slowly (perfect for horses that tend to bolt their grain), and simulates natural grazing (great for any horse’s digestion).
Anyone with an OTTB probably keeps a stash of peppermints in the tack trunk anyway, but Buckeye’s Peppermint Bits are a healthy holiday spin on a taste he already knows and loves, but without any added sugar.
Are you looking for a DIY alternative? Try this delicious recipe for homemade peppermint muffins.
For the Backyard Horse
If you’re keeping your horse at home, chances are this category is for you. Horses who get lots of turnout tend to be healthier and more relaxed. And having their human nearby doesn’t hurt, either! Here are a few ideas to spoil this special companion.
This isn’t just a great gift for the herd; it’s a treat for your wallet, as well! The Bale Buddy, and similar slow feed bale covers, help to minimize hay waste. The mesh holes force horses to take smaller mouthfuls, which results in less dropped (and stepped on) hay.
Here’s a neat idea to keep your grass kept horse enjoying fresh green grass year-round, even if the fields are covered in snow. Fodder is an economical, sustainable feed alternative that uses hydroponics to produce a thick mat of grass and roots, which makes a delicious and healthy treat for horses (and a pleasant surprise for stalled horses, too). While it won’t replace your hay ration altogether, it can augment it.
Sure, it’s not the most seasonal purchase for winter, but it’s something you’ll be glad was under the tree come summer! Keep your grazing horse (nearly) fly free without loading up on chemical sprays with a fly sheet. Look for a model with extra gussets for a comfortable fit and a wide range of movement, and UV protection for a healthy coat, too.
If you need to turn your horse out in a halter, make sure it’s a leather one (or at least a breakaway nylon one) that will break if he gets caught up and panics. Look for one with soft, supple leather and quality hardware. With the same proper care you’d give any leather item, it can last for years.
Happy Mouth Bit
Swear by an eggbutt snaffle? Or have a horse that ‘only goes’ in a gag bit? Whatever your choice of bit, chances are Happy Mouth has the bit you prefer, but in a soft, smells-like-apples polymer that your horse will like, too! Even cooler? A new contour collection that minimizes the pinching associated with straight mouth bits.
These classic treats are still made by hand with natural grains and healthy extras like flax seeds, and with a taste (and name!) that’s hard to resist.
The German Horse Muffin
These sweet, chewy treats are loaded with molasses, which makes them a perfect choice for the horse with a sweet tooth. And for the owner worried about health (let’s be honest, that’s every horse owner), they also have a version made with beet pulp – a highly digestible fiber that’s low in sugar and starch.
If you’re looking for an excuse to spoil your horse, this Christmas is it! Whether your mount is your competitive partner, your backyard buddy, a school horse owned by a riding stable, or something in between, chances are they’re also your best friend.
Show your horse how much you care with a thoughtful holiday gift this year. Just don’t let him try to unwrap it himself!
Are you planning any horsey holidays this year? Share your ideas with other readers below!