With only ten shopping days left before Christmas, I am beginning to make my list. Yeah, I’m the procrastinating type who waits to the last minute for just about everything, including buying presents for my horse girl. If you are too, then this self-proclaimed golden nugget of horsey literature may be just what you need. Many, I repeat, MANY good gifts for horse girls take a lot of time and a lot of planning. These are the ones to start thinking about in January for next Christmas or for a birthday perhaps. For the procrastinating horse husbands and boyfriends out there, fear not. An equal number of good ideas can easily be accomplished by even the slowest starting Christmas shoppers, very often with just a few clicks of the mouse (and an overnight fee). So I will attempt to identify the do’s and dont’s of last minute shopping for horse girls.
I am going to start with one of my most successful last minute do’s of horse girl gifts. This particular gift may come as a surprise to most non-horse people (whom I sometimes refer to as Earthlings because horse people, including hubbies and boyfriends, are indeed in a world of their own). I am still in awe of the response I got from my horse girl the time I bought her fencing. I’m not talking about buying her a thousand feet of a specialty fence that perfectly matches her existing post-and-dowel fence. That would take weeks for delivery, not to mention thousands of dollars, something that would definitely fall into the category of last minute Christmas gift dont’s. And it may not make a good surprise gift either, as most horse girls are as particular about their fences as they are about the men they let in the barn. I am a contractor, I’m very knowledgeable about fencing, and I have put up my share of residential fences…BUT…I knew better than to just buy what I thought she needed, so I asked her. All she wanted was wire mesh fencing to replace the barbed wire on already existing t-posts. But I had to make sure the hole size in the mesh was small enough so that a hoof wouldn’t get caught in it. This type of gift is as easy as sugarplum pie! Rolls of this stuff can be found from local hardware stores, feed stores, fence supply stores, and the big home improvement places like Lowe’s or Home Depot for less than $1 per foot. You will be floored at how 200 feet of 2×4-in wire mesh fencing can literally bring a horse girl to tears, a definite do.
Another surprising do for horse girls even at the last minute is a blanket. I don’t mean the Earthling idea of new comforter for her bed, a throw for her couch, or even a picnic blanket (although spreading a blanket one night in the country to gaze at the stars with a bottle of wine is a great idea). What she’s looking for this Christmas may be a new blanket for her horse on cold nights, or a sheet on cool nights. These are very easy to find (doversaddlery.com, smartpakequine.com) and very easy to order. They’re kinda like shopping for lingerie (no website provided). All you need to know, the type and the size, can be found on the tag! What’s even better is you don’t even have to have an awkward conversation about women’s under apparel with a saleperson whom you have never met. These websites also have information on how to measure and what type is needed should the tag be missing. A cool weather stable sheet for a barn dwelling horse is as little as $75, while a water resistant heavyweight turnout blanket for pasture horses can be over $400. If you’re really good, you can give it to her by putting the brand new blanket on the horse yourself. But this is only for those who have learned how and when your particular horse girl likes to blanket her horse. The first time I performed a solo blanketing was a little bit better than a disaster. She had told me how to do it; I had watched her do it many times; the only thing I didn’t do was watch the 8-minute video she sent me on how to do it (videos are difficult for people like me with adult onset ADD). But I did well with the thoroughbred and figured I could handle the pony in my sleep. In my defense, she said Sweet Pea had a newly ordered blanket that was a little large for her (it’s hard to find the right size blanket for some ponies). She also said it was the one hanging on the left side of the gate (or was it the right?, I can’t remember). But anyway, when I got it put completely on, I could tell right away it was too big. In fact, I was almost certain she’d ordered the wrong size. I called her up and asked, “Is the blanket supposed to be touching the ground?” Turns out the blanket I put on little ten-hand Sweet Pea was actually for Emma, the Cleveland Bay/thoroughbred cross with a size 81 blanket! That was definitely a don’t and not one of my most shining moments, so do exercise caution when putting on a new blanket Christmas Eve.
Everyone has heard that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But not everyone knows that the best way to a horse girl’s heart is through her horse’s stomach. Another do is feed. I still don’t know the difference between all the types, old horses get senior feed, young horses get growth formulations, some get hay, some get alfalfa, some get pellets. If you’re like me all of this is quite confusing. After 20 minutes of putting this feed in that bucket, that feed in this bucket, adding this, and mixing that, the soft beautiful voice of my horse girl sounds more like a Charlie Brown teacher, “Womp, womp, womp, whooaammpphhh.” This is sometimes followed by me acting like a blockhead, but that’s another story. Anyway, the easy thing to do is buy a gift certificate at the feed store! I brought my lovely horse girl to tears just last Christmas with a $100 gift certificate. Bags of feed cost anywhere from $10-25, so any little bit helps and will be greatly appreciated. A Christmas gift of moderate difficulty level would be to actually purchase the right type of feed. Many of you are already at this level. For my fellow blockheads out there, maybe this year we can try taking a picture of the most common type of feed to the feed store and buying a couple of bags (not too many, because there is an expiration date on each bag). I’m pretty sure I can handle that, BUT I’m thinking of taking it up a notch by actually having hay delivered. You gotta know what kind of hay she needs; you don’t want to buy 20 bales of roadside hay for roughstock. I found a nearby farmer who sells bermuda and bahia for $10/square bale and $60/round bale with a $100 delivery charge. Now, I’ve heard this is expensive for hay, but it’s convenient and I can get her halfway through winter for under $300. I must again plead for the use of caution! You don’t want to just plop a round bale in each pasture, but delivering mass quantities of the right to type of hay to the farm will surely bring a smile to her face. For you horse feed aficionados out there, you can pick up one of “those slow feeder hay contraptions… not the nets, but the boxes with small-holed grids that move down with the hay level.” I don’t even know what this is, but I love a good challenge and I would surprise her with one if that’s what my horse girl wants.
The element of surprise is important. But, again, you want to exercise a little horse hubby common sense. You don’t want to surprise her with a random feeding consisting of a 100-lb pile of sweet feed in every paddock. You don’t even want to buy her a new saddle, like off of ebay or something. Remember those things have to be custom fit for the horse AND rider. But what you can do is surprise her with some horse related jewelry. A quick online search will yield lots of option, but Show Stable Artisans (equestrianjewelry.com) has a great selection and a wide range of items. You can find anything from sterling silver horse pendants starting at $48 to a rare vintage Hermes bit bracelet for $2600.
An Engagement Horse
If any of you lucky men are in the market for an engagement ring ten days before Christmas, maybe you ought to wait until Valentine’s day to pop that little question. If you are on the adventurous side, you can try an engagement horse (the pinnacle of all horse girl gifts!). Neither the ring, nor the horse should come as a complete surprise to your horse girl, or most girls, for that matter. So, don’t under any circumstances buy her a surprise horse and have it tied at the front of her favorite restaurant. As cool as this may sound, horse purchases are much more complex. At the very best, you may be able to pick up on something at a show like, “That horse is exactly my size” or “I tried to buy that one a few years ago. I wonder if she’d sell this year.” If you are certain of her precise horse need and if you have found one she has specifically talked about, and if you are horsey enough to execute a pre-purchase agreement, do it (I promise you’ll need more than ten days for that one).
Whether you’re in the market for something big or something small, something made of gold or something made of leather, something that can be eaten or something that can be worn, you still have time if you act now. Speaking of which, I’ve got to go make a quick phone call and do a little clicking myself. Who knows what my horse girl may find in the haystack this year? Merry Christmas!
What was the best gift you ever bought for your wife? Leave your stories in the comments below.