Best Gift Guide for Horse Owners

Free bumper sticker!

Oh, the joys of the holiday season and gift-giving!

At Cayuse Communications, we aim to ease gift-buying challenges by focusing on items of high quality and worthy to your horse work and riding experiences. We focus on what might make your lives with horses better. The horses? Frankly, we think they’ll benefit from more from a happy you, than stuff for them.

Read our op-ed: Horses want fewer gifts, better care.

This year, we’re categorizing our recommendations by price and need. We feature everything from inexpensive stocking stuffers to dream purchases for which you might have to secure a small loan. We have suggestions for travel, education, gear and barn improvements, too.

Enjoy our annual gift guide…

Stocking Stuffers:

Skidmore’s Leather Cream – treat your boots, saddle, headstall, etc. with Skidmore’s to extend life and keep them looking good. Smells great.

Darn Tough socks – warm, yummy, and guaranteed for life.

Hestra Gloves – work gloves from 80-year old Swedish company (review coming in January). Work gloves here. Play gloves (more expensive) here. 

EcoLips lip balm – so good you could eat it!

Nicker More, Buck Less bumperstickers – FREE when you order A Rider’s Reader.

Under the Tree, under $100:

Knotty Girlz halters and leads – lots of top quality choices from this woman-owned, Washington state company.

Outfitters Supply – this Montana company has great saddle bags of canvas, nylon, and leather varieties. Check out their wide selection of pack gear and beautiful Jeremiah Watt spurs, too.

Kimes Ranch jeans – made in America. Look for discount when/if you sign up for their newsletter. Read review.

Kershaw knives – check out the Leek with half-serrated blade. Still our favorite knife for horse folks. Read review. 

Duckworth Vapor T

Duckworth tops – this Montana company walks the walk when it comes to Made in America. They go from Sheep to Shelf. We like their Vapor T (review here) and look forward to checking our their Comet Tunnel Hood (review coming in January.

Under the Tree, over $100:

CR Ranchwear shirts – Can a simple, stylish shirt morph you from slob-to-sophisticate? Yes, yes, it can. Read Maddy’s review here. Read Amy’s review here.

Custom Leggings from Fringe Western Wear and Leatherwork – Kathleen Gerwatoski has been crafting perfect leggings (armitas, chicks, chaps) for years from her ranch in Canada. (Review of chocolate brown, shotgun armitas with Jeremiah Watt buckle and conchos coming in January)

WorkWear by Patagonia

Outerwear for cool, not cold weather:

We love the Patagonia WorkWear Barn Coat, made with hemp (reviewed here) and Tin Shed Jacket (review coming in January) and the Bivy jacket with recycled down (reviewed here).

Outerwear for colder climes:

Check out the LL Bean Baxter State Parka (review coming in January)

Olathe Boots – made in Texas, these boots look great and wear great. Read review here.

Not Under the Tree, well-worth the price tag:

Western Sky Saddlery has renowned customer service and an impressive selection of saddles, most with Wade trees. Check them out here.

Gifts of Knowledge and Exploration:

A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment. By Maddy Butcher

Order here and get a free bumper sticker.

Evidence-Based Horsemanship. By Dr. Steve Peters and Martin Black. Order here.

Check out the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, an annual mind-expanding event with so much to offer. Concerts, poetry recitations, workshops, museum and trade events, and lots more for a week in Elko, Nevada.

Mark your calendars! The next Best Horse Practices Summit is October 7-9 in Durango. We will look forward to seeing you there! (Details coming in early 2018).

Read our op-ed: Horses want fewer gifts, better care.

Tough Filipino Horses Need Your Help

Giving Thursday!

Support International Veterinary Outreach here.

Utah horse vet Dr. Kate Schoenhals sent this report from the Philippines where she worked with the International Veterinary Outreach:

We did our first two trips this year and our hoping to continue building and developing over the next few years. 

I’m headed back in March, 2018.

Photo by Kim Ruelo

These are the saltiest toughest horses I’ve ever come across! They are dead broke to ride but completely confused if you try to brush them, pick up their feet, put a weight tape around their chest. It’s a whole different relationship than our American horses. You’d find it fascinating to interact with them, I’m sure.

When the horses don’t want to participate in a physical exam or injection, their owners first answer is to jump on their back (and sometimes double ear twitch – trying to lessen this habit). I’d could go on and on…

Thank you and your readers for your support. 

Support International Veterinary Outreach here.

Photo by Kim Ruelo

Cherry Picking Optimizes My Riding Experience

Editor’s Note: We hear this week from Nancy Lowery of Calgary, Alberta. Lowery has been blogging about her Leadership Learning through Horsemanship Experiences for more than a decade. A recent interview series began as “One Foot in the Arena” to explore what Calgary leaders have learned through their relationships with horses.

Lowery writes:

I love horses, riding, and the comfort of my Western saddle. For winter riding, shotgun chaps are perfect. But that’s about where my love affair with the Old West ends. I guess you could say I’m a ‘metro cowboy’ as my wardrobe is outdoor technical and I choose ball caps over brims.

I don’t listen to country music, cowboy poetry, or go to the rodeo. It just seems to rob me of time I’d rather spend riding. I don’t compete. For me, riding has no end game; it’s all process.

With all that cherry-picking, how do I fit into a culture that seems to attract a certain religiosity, a certain uniformity?

Go to any Western horse event and you’ll see spectators dressed like they stepped out of a fashionable 1880’s scene. If the guys walked downtown in any big city dressed like that, it wouldn’t be girls hitting on them. The strangest sight to me: straw cowboy hats worn in the middle of winter. (In the summer, I find that chaps are too hot.)

I have been to events where the emphasis on wardrobe seems to take precedence over horsemanship. My first run-in with the perfectly attired was at a Ray Hunt clinic. Ray said ‘Stop your horses,’ so, I did. This well-dressed rider plowed into the back end of my mare. Needless to say, my mare wasn’t comfortable and I wasn’t impressed to learn that the rider and her husband spent the rest of the clinic warning everyone to stay away from us.

On Day Three, when the gentleman asked Ray to talk about soft feel, Ray replied “If you haven’t been listening these past three days, there is no point me repeating it now.” Ah, Karma.

My goal is to develop a bridle horse and I will consider myself lucky if end up with a pretty good snaffle bit horse. I have shelves full of books on lightness, dressage, bridle horses, and traditional Vaquero style riding. I attend clinics when I can and I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the connections between what I offer and what the horse understands. I now see the accuracy of the statement: “The first horse you start will be the worst job you ever do.”

I admit there was a time I wished to be included. At one clinic, I was invited to the ‘circle’ at the end of the day. It was not what I’d expected; when people ran out of shared clinic experiences there was an uncomfortable silence. It seems the only topics allowed are ones in common and agreed on. Politics, religion, the environment – all topics of importance to me – were out. When I brought up a recent event, I was told “this is not the place to talk about that.”

I’ve reached a point in my life where I brace against compliance simply for the sake of it. I care less about what others think and more about what my horses tell me. If we are brave enough to get away from mindless compliance, horses can bring out our creativity. I am endlessly curious about what will engage a horse. The more curious I am, the more creative I become.

I’ve gained some wisdom over the years along with quite a few bruises and trips to the emergency room. It isn’t about fitting in to a crowd as much as being comfortable in what I know and how my horses respond to me. How I do something might not comply with someone else’s approach, but my priority is being consistent with the horse.

So, yes, nowadays I cherry pick my moments, my engagements, and with whom I hang out with. I gravitate to people who inspire me, challenge me, and are willing to engage in meaningful conversations and ask great questions.

My life and my business focus on those connections. I’ve come along way since I started and I’ve had some amazing teachers along the way, horse and human.

Horsemanship and leadership are journeys that require endless curiosity, care, and concern. That same curiosity and concern apply to everything and everyone in my life. I believe I’ll continue to cherry pick.

Why Net Neutrality Matters to you and me

Thanks to the folks at On Pasture for reminding us that the recent developments in Washington D.C. impact folks like you.

The prospect of Net Neutrality going away, something the head of the Federal Communications Commission indicated would happen soon, is scary to folks like us at Cayuse Communications, a small business that educates and helps horse owners all around the world.

Writes Kathy and Rachel at On Pasture:

Thanks to Net Neutrality it’s easy to shop and find information on the internet. Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISP) must enable equal access to all content and applications regardless of the source, without

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favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Without it, Internet Service Providers could charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites, creating a “fast lane” and “slow lane” for the internet. Websites, like On Pasture for example, could be charged for faster connections, and costs like that would either shut down some sites, or be passed on to users, like you, who really can’t afford to pay either. (For more, here’s a Forbes article on what repealing net neutrality could mean to all of us.)

Recent polls show that three-quarters of Americans support net neutrality because they like to control for themselves what they see and read and where they shop on the Internet. It’s even one of those rare issues where we don’t

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divide along party lines: 73% of Republicans and 81% of Democrats are in favor of net neutrality. Nevertheless, when the Federal Communications Commissioners meet on December 14, they are expected to vote to end it.

If you’d like to have a say in how they vote on your behalf, here are their email addresses:

Ajit Pai, Chairman.
Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner.
Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner. Mike.O’
Brendan Carr, Commissioner.
Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner.

So, happy gift giving and pardon our foray into politics. We just want to be sure we can be here for you well into the future.

Thanks for reading!

Kathy and Rachel

A Glamorous Hoodie for Horsewomen

Toad&Co. first caught got my attention with its message, not its clothing. I heard CEO Gordon Seabury speak several times at the Industry Breakfast of the Outdoor Retailer; he was smart, inspiring and made a good argument for outdoor recreation companies uniting to fight for public lands, getting people outside, and sustainability.

Like Patagonia, Toad&Co. (formerly Horny Toad, founded by Jessica Nordhaus in Telluride, Colorado about 25 years ago) commits to being pretty transparent about its production stream and contributes meaningfully to social and environmental progress.

Like Cotopaxi, it’s a company that’s easy to like on just principle alone.

Would a Toad&Co. hoodie also inspire?

Enter the Wildwood Sherpa Hoodie in delicious brown.


A friend once insisted it was a dreadful color.

But I’d like to suggest that brown – especially this beautiful blend of three subtle, textured shades in the Sherpa Hoodie – is quite lovely. Let brown be the new black. (For you doubters, it also comes in interesting colorblocks of blue, whites, and greys.)

The zip-up hoodie is a repurposed wool blend, crafted in Italy. The wool is processed “using mechanical, not chemical, means and blended with polyester for softness and nylon for strength” according to the garment details.

Remember those tough, utilitarian, and decidedly unflattering pullover sweaters of a generation ago? They weren’t pretty, but they kept you warm and stood up to work.

The Sherpa Hoodie is warm, tough, and pretty.

Details to appreciate:

  • The zipper is not too big, not too small, and has a Toad tab to make it easy to operate with gloves on.
  • The front opening and pockets are trimmed with fine corduroy which feels good and gives the casual sweater a fine finished look.
  • The wool blend means that it breaths better than polyester fleece equivalents and handles multiple wearings without collecting body odor.

Function and practicality are musts for us horsewomen: this hoodie is a practical piece. Toad&Co.likes to label this priority Trail to Tavern but it could just as easily be Horse to Hoedown or Paddock to Party.

One more nice touch from the company, its guarantee: “If you don’t get a compliment within three wearings or if you find something wrong with your garment, we’ll take it back and make it right.”

Nifty zipper and trim details

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