Gift Buying Ideas for your Horses and Horse Friends

At NickerNews and BestHorsePractices, we feel exceedingly fortunate to have a herd of outstanding advertising partners.

All American Giveaway

All American Giveaway

Together, we think you could accomplish ALL your holiday gift buying for the horses and horse friends in your life:

For your horse:

Lucerne Forage is a great way to add calories and convenience to your horse feed during the energy-burning winter months. Check out their forage options here.

Concerned about your horse’s nutrition? Check out Hay Balancer offers!

Renegade Hoof Boots are tough and easy to use. Plus, their customer service is fabulous, personal, thoughtful. Get started here.

Research shows slow-feeding is one of the best options for horses’ health. Check out Hay Pillows and Harmany muzzles.

It’s not too early to consider fly predators for next year! Visit Spalding Labs and sign up for your first delivery.

Nelson Waterers take the buckets and thankless hauling out of the equation. Check them out here.

Invest in self-improvement for your horses’ sake: clinicians Libby Lyman and Elijah Moore are here to help.

darn toughHorse losing weight? Looking not quite right? It might be bad teeth or a sore back. Check out equine dentist Steve Akeley and chiropractor Petra Sullwold.

For you and your horse friends

Little purchases:

Wear your heart on your sleeve and your horse on your wrist. Turn mane and tail hair into a precious piece of jewelry. Check out Braids by Britt.

Socks are easy to buy and sooo fabulous to receive. Start here with Darn Tough.

EcoLips makes all variety of lip balm. Straight from Iowa. You can event design your own. Learn more.

Knotty Girlz halters and lead lines feel so good in your hands. Made in America with an extraordinary number of options to choose from. We love their innovative eye-splice lead line! Visit Knotty Girlz.

247-thickbox_defaultOther ideas: a great Kershaw pocket knife and a Me and My Dog (and horse) Adventure Medical Kit.

Join Remuda Readers and get Maddy Butcher’s A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment FREE.

Big purchases:

5 Star equine pads and cinches are the best around. Made in U.S.A. Click here.

Leggings from Fringe Leatherwork. Treat yourself or a horsey loved one to beautiful, custom chinks, chaps, or armitas. Click here.

IMG_0270The best selection and prices for Wade saddles are at Western Sky Saddlery.

Saddle bags are a must for those long trail rides. Outfitters Supply has a huge selection for English and Western riders. Check them out here.

Recent reviews:

Patagonia Bivy Jacket

Justin Bay Apache Boots

For more reviews, start here and scroll down for links to reviews of:

Nocona Cozy Cow Boots

Ariat Midtown English Boots

Ariat Monoco Paddock Boots

Patagonia Baselayer

Cotopaxi Barn Coat

Cotopaxi Altiplano Vest

Cotopaxi Kusa Jacket

Skidmore’s Leather Creams

LL Bean Slip-on Boots

Kimes Ranch Jeans


Ariat’s Midtown English boot dazzles

We invited clinician and guest columnist Amy Skinner to review a pair of Ariat English boots. She writes:

10018456Most of my riding career, if I’m in a dressage saddle, then I’m in tall black boots.  It’s tradition. The high black cavalier boot dates back hundreds of years to military ranks and the army age of the horse and musket. The boots were practical, stylish and standard issue. And they still are.

Since dressage evolved from military movements, it makes sense that we brought some of the garb with us. But why do we all settle for standard issue?  Why not stand out in the crowd with a pair of exceptional boots from Ariat?

Go boldly into the arena with colors your fellow riders don’t see too often. Think outside of the box. That’s the idea I followed when I chose these Midtown boots in caramel.

img_5435I was excited just opening the packaging. The beautiful, deep honey colored leather was soft with the delicious smell of quality leather. They were beautiful in the box, but I wondered how they would hold up to the real world.

The soft leather comfortable immediately, requiring no break-in time.  I wore them up to the barn without any discomfort, then I changed into my muck boots to catch my horse. I didn’t want to taint the nice leather in the late fall mud.

The leather is flexible enough that my calves and heels didn’t get the usual chafing from new English boots.  The heel and toe both work nicely in a stirrup, and the sole has good grip, a real plus.

The zipper feature is nice, saving me from the normal strain of trying to wriggle in and out of pull-on boots.  They have a nice tight clasp at the top of the zipper, along with a contoured top to fit under your knee and not pinch behind the knee.  The Midtowns are double stitched for durability and lined for comfort. They also have nice pull straps tucked inside the boot for a clean look without losing the practicality of the pull straps.

These tall boots don’t just look great over breeches.  They look fantastic with a pair of skinny jeans out to dinner and are comfortable enough for wearing out (In fact, I don’t believe in wearing uncomfortable boots wherever I’m headed).  My friends all complimented me on the choice and most didn’t realize they were riding boots.

The Midtowns are a great value. They are versatile, comfortable, and good looking, like a good riding horse.  I originally thought they would be too beautiful to ride in. But Ariat has made a quality boot that is not just nice to admire, it stands up to the task.


Justin’s Bay Apache Boots

This month, we asked Dr. Steve Peters, co-author of Evidence-Based Horsemanship, to review a pair of Made in America Justin Boots. He chose the Bay Apache, a classic Western boot. Dr. Peters writes:

dsc02906My images of cowboys developed over five decades ago with John Wayne, the Marlboro man, and Clint Eastwood. They wore and used tough, functional gear with little bling. My first boots were Justin’s because the Texas company made cowboy boots the way they were suppose to be: made in America with high shafts, angled underslung heels, and spur ridges. Each feature had a purpose. They became part of you and better with every wear as they molded to the way you moved, rode, and walked.
Nowadays, I see that the rugged, independent spirit of ranchers and cowboys – those who spend their days horseback moving cows, checking fence, and riding big circles – is still reflected in their well-worn, comfortable, no-nonsense gear. Tobacco, coffee, and wheat are the colors of the range and colors of their boots. No neon blue or lime green. No rhinestone rodeo or gathering cattle on ATV’s.
dsc02965When I opened the box containing my Justin Bay Apache boots, it was a tactile confirmation of those real, organic, and down-to-earth images. I recalled childhood memories: these deep tan boots with narrow, rounded toes could easily accompany John Wayne’s leather vest or Clint Eastwood’s olive poncho.
Like my saddle with leather conchas and my horse hair mecate reins, these boots are as natural looking and authentic.
Even right out of the box and their narrow profile notwithstanding, they were as easy to slip on as well-worn jeans. The stylish stitching on the shaft is nicely earth-toned with subtle oranges and beige.
dsc02923These boots feel just as comfortable walking around town or driving a car as they do horseback and accommodating a pair of spurs.
I may not be a working cowboy. Nor am I any spaghetti western star. But the Bay Apaches take me there. They’re ideal for us 21st century riders.

Recycled Down? Yes! Patagonia’s Bivy Jacket

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and I were both born within a mile from the Androscoggin River; he in Lewiston and yvon-150x150myself in Brunswick, 20 miles downstream. Back in those days, Maine’s third largest river foamed with pollution from paper and textile mills. Before Chouinard and his family moved to California, the young boy must have smelled the stink of its unfortunate brown water.

It took lots of effort (most notably, the Clean Water Act of 1972), but now the river is clear, clean, and

Androscoggin River in Brunswick, circa 1970, polluted and stinky.

Androscoggin River in Brunswick, circa 1970, polluted and stinky.

swimmable. I think Chouinard, known as much for his environmentalism as for the clothing and gear company he established, would be pleased.

The 77-year old Maine native is the “philosopher-king” of a growing band of companies making “eco-conscious” gear for us riders and outdoor recreationalists. He’s helped push sustainability and environmental impact to the top of the priority pile when many consumers consider purchases.

  • Did animals die?
  • Did forests disappear?
  • Did rivers get poisoned?
  • Did workers suffer?

dsc02902That we might possibly contemplate the answers is due in large part to the Patagonia influence.

This month, we review two new sleep-well-at-night purchases: the Bivy Jacket and Denim Straight Jeans.

The Bivy Jacket

Recycled cans. Recycled bottles. Recycled goose down? Yes. The tough, warm Bivy is made from reclaimed down from used down products. Same lightness and incredible insulation without killing geese.

The Bivy is horse- and barn-friendly. Its outer material effortlessly sheds hay, shavings, horse hair, rain, and snow.

Love the draft-deterring hemline!

Love the draft-deterring hemline!

The tough nylon canvas won’t rip when you move past barbed wire or ride through brush.

The zipper is easy to handle with gloves and never gets caught in fabric of the jacket placket or liner.

The hem sits below the waist with an extra, flattering few inches on the backside to ward off drafts.

The western yoke styling and the colorful print lining make this hard-working jacket fun to wear. It’s pretty without being foofy.

By visiting this page, you can read where the Bivy was made and follow the supply chain for the jacket. Stay warm during winter days and sleep well at night.

Pretty, not foofy.

Pretty, not foofy.

Saddles, boots, and leggings love Skidmore’s

In a lot of what we’re finding in horse work, “getting back to nature” is proving to be an effective, even ideal philosophy. That is: if we consider how horses live naturally, it’s often better for the horse than our man-made alternatives (stalls, grains, blankets, etc.).

s202068347927364988_p126_i1_w250In a parallel universe, we’re finding that nature-based products are best for our horse gear. We chatted with Susan and Vincent Skidmore recently. They run Skidmore’s, a Washington-based company which makes products for leather care and conditioning. Many say Skidmore’s is the only thing to use on saddles, bridles, leggings, and boots.

Some 30 years ago, Vincent Skidmore started with a notion and began by mixing beeswax and other natural ingredients in a coffee can. He brought it to saddle-making friends in and around Laramie, Wyoming, where he was living at the time. With a little tweaking, a now tried-and-true product was born. Scores of high-end leather makers swear by it, including Dave Thornbury and Loren Skyhorse, said Skidmore. The leather cream is used on saddles worth tens of thousands of dollars and even on Rolls Royce upholstery, he added.

I know what’s NOT in it: no animal products and nothing synthetic. But other than acknowledging its “piney” smell, neither

Vincent and Susan Skidmore

Vincent and Susan Skidmore

Vincent nor Susan would give any hints on the proprietary blend.

Whatever the products contain, Skidmore’s creams have an increasing fan base. The motorcycle demographic (folks who also have a lot of leather to care for) has discovered them, too.

“We sell to a ton of Mom and Pop saddle shops, to the Amish community, saddle makers, boots and chaps makers,” said Susan from their shop in Port Townsend, Washington. The company has steadily grown through word-of-mouth and the testimonials of its customers.

Skidmore’s is part of our All-American November celebration. When you sign up for the Remuda Reader subscription, you’re automatically qualified to win a prize pack including a Skidmore’s gift box. Read more about that here.


Tall, Smart, and Attractive: Nocona Boot Review

nocona-enidBack in 1925, Enid Justin, daughter of Justin Boot Company founder, Herman Joseph Justin, did not want to leave home. One of seven children, Enid had moved around plenty in her young life and was happy in her small hometown of Nocona, Texas, near the Red River and the Oklahoma border. Nocona was a common stop on northern cattle drives.

So when her brothers pulled up stakes and transferred the boot company to Fort Worth, the newly married woman decided to stay put and within a year had founded the Nocona Boot Company. She was her company’s first salesman, too, and hit the road in a Model T Ford with her kid sister in tow. Over time, her north Texas company would become one of the top five boot companies in the country – an astonishing feat for a woman of her generation.

noconaYou could say Nocona boots, still made in Texas, are like the company’s founder: impressive and hard-working. That’s what I discovered with my first pair of Nocona’s – a beautiful pair of Cozy Taupe Cow boots.

In an effort to put these attractive boots through the ringer, I’ve worn them every day and all day since receiving them two weeks ago. The boots have walked and ridden about 50 miles thus far.

My feet are slightly smaller than the size 9 ordered. As a result, these square, snip-toed boots with underslung heels needed virtually no breaking in.

Initially, I fretted that the lack of fancy insole or foamy insert might mean less support than other boots with those inner extras. But no worries necessary. Even after miles of walking, standing, and riding, the Noconas still felt sublime.

Nocona boots work hard in the stirrup and elsewhere

Nocona boots work hard in the stirrup and elsewhere

The 13-inch height has plenty of width if you’re inclined to tuck in your jeans or if you have wide calves. When riding through all gaits, uphill and down, as well as through thick brush, jeans stayed put and did not ride up (a variable I believe is often due to boot-jean interaction, not just jean fit). When I had to dismount because the terrain was too rugged and vertical, these Noconas were fit to the task.

The All-American Nocona story came full circle when Enid merged the company with her Justin Industries in 1981. The Nocona plant closed in 1999, but Nocona boots are still made in Texas. Check out the lineup of American made boots here for women and here for men.

Enid Justin, immensely dedicated to boot making and to her community, was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1978. She lived 96 years and died in 1990.

Hats Off and Boots On to you, Enid!


Ariat’s Desert Holly Boots Liven Any Outfit

This month, we will review four pairs of boots from Ariat, Justin, and Nocona.

First up, our marketing director, Emily Thomas Luciano, reviews a dressy pair of Ariats:

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of boots:

    • Boots to wear in the rain
    • Boots to ride in
    • Tried and true daily barn boots
    • Boots to show in
    • Boots to wear only with boot-cut jeans
    • Boots to wear only with skinny jeans.
Ariat's Desert Holly

Ariat’s Desert Holly

I even have boots from my wedding, a sassy turquoise pair that only makes it out if I’m really feeling fancy!

When I got the chance to review Ariat’s Desert Holly, I jumped at the chance because I thought they’d look fantastic with a pair of skinny jeans. My current go-to pair for skinnies aren’t very comfortable and hurt my feet if I wear them for any amount of time. And, as we all know, Ariat’s ATS ® (Advanced Torque Stability) Technology is a treat to the feet! In the company’s words: “ATS Technology supports and cushions the foot as you move, promoting good posture and reducing fatigue so that you can work or play all day.”

The second I opened the box, I was pleased to find the same high-quality leather that I’ve grown to know and expect from Ariat. The color, “Pearl,” is much richer and more luxurious in person than in online images. And the stitching on the boot shaft is adorable—LOVE the gold details.

fullsizerender-2Naturally, as any good boot-lover would do after getting a new pair of kicks, I put them on my feet and took them for a spin around the house. Remember that ATS® Technology I was so excited about? It makes these boots a dream to wear.

I debuted these boots with a Canadian Tuxedo (that’s denim-on-denim) to the Pensacola Interstate Fair. Though they didn’t come out of the box with an already broken-in feel, by the end of an evening at the fair, they were perfect. My feet never hurt and I felt great wearing them all night.

If you’re looking for a new pair of riding boots, these are not them. At least, not if you’re me – I prefer boots with a roper heel, not the two inch or so stacked heel found on these boots. But if you’re on the hunt for the perfect pair of boots to throw on with nearly any outfit, you’ve found them in the snappy, comfortable Desert Holly.

All American November Giveaway

All American Giveaway

All American Giveaway

At NickerNews and BestHorsePractices, we like to research and highlight quality, American-made products. From lip balm to saddle pads, we’ve found some amazing and impressive goods.

During the month of November, when you subscribe to Remuda Readers, you’ll qualify to win a $700 prize pack. Talk about kickstarting the holidays!

One heckuva prize! Enjoy all the goodies or share the love and re-gift them to several friends.

Remuda Readers enjoy access to exclusive content on BestHorsePractices. We’ll send you a free gift, just for joining. Read more here.

Or, Sign Up with your PayPal or credit card here.

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