Dear Jessica, I was at a book-signing you did a few years ago in the Seattle area. The person in front of me asked you a question about what would be a good present for a brand new horse owner, and you said to give them a "new horse shower", like a baby shower. I thought this was a great idea. Now one of my best friends is finally getting her own horse, and I'm planning a shower for her. I have it all worked out in terms of the party and so on, but most of the people who will attend are not horse owners and they have no clue what to buy. I looked in my own tackroom and thought there is no way I can make a list, I have so much stuff after twenty years of horse ownership and staying in the same place!
Can you help me with a list of inexpensive basic items that I can "assign" to the people who are coming to the shower? I think everyone would be glad to spend up to $20, but probably not much more than that, and of course less would be nice. There will be twenty-three people coming. If I start to make a list, it's "saddle bridle halter leadrope" and that's not very helpful in this case, but if I look in my tackroom I see hundreds of things. Please help us with Sandy's shower, after all it was your suggestion that caused all this to happen!
Since this is Sandy's very first horse, though, you should plan to start her off with the essential basic items... and perhaps a few "fun" or "wouldn't it be nice to have" items as well.
sponges (large and small)
veterinary thermometer and petroleum jelly (since she's a new horse-owner, you should prepare it for use by attaching a string to the loop at the end of the thermometer, and a clip to the other end of the string)
leather cleaner and conditioner (Leather Therapy for preference) saddle stand (the boarding barn should have tack lockers, but she'll need a saddle stand at home)
I'm sure you'll think of many more items, but all of the above are essential items that can be acquired for under $20. If she really wants a fancy leather halter, then two or three of you might need to share the expense of that gift - and for another $10 or so, someone can give her a halter plate with her horse's name on it!
If she's at a DIY boarding barn (I hope not, since this will be her first horse), she'll need a lot more to get started:
rubber feed tub(s)
grain storage container - surely horse people must be the only ones to get excited about big metal trash cans with tight-fitting lids feed scoop
If she were bringing a horse home, you could add these items to the "must have" list:
wheelbarrow, cart or manure basket (this could be a gift from 2 or 3 people) garden hose
wire cutters (for wire-baled hay: attach them to a string so that she can hang them up)
utility knife (for string-baled hay: attach this to a string so that she can hang it up)
leather gloves for barn chores
spray nozzle for hose (bathtime!)
... and we haven't even touched on TACK yet! ;-) Saddles and bridles are big-ticket items, the person who's going to use them needs to be closely involved with their selection, and those items are a bit beyond the scope of typical shower gifts in any case. What would be very helpful to your friend, though, would be the gift of someone's time! If one of her friends is particularly knowledgeable about tack and tack-fitting, perhaps that person could make her an "advice coupon" good for a joint visit to the tack shop. ;-)
Horse books are always useful and welcome gifts, and so are videotapes. If several people want to get together to purchase a more costly item, a truly wonderful gift for a first-time horseowner would be the three-videotape set "101 Horsekeeping Tips" by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh. The three tapes are called: "Handling and Grooming", "Feeding and Health Care", and "Facilities and Tack".
Have fun! I'm sure that your friend will love the shower.
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