Your High-Maintenance Horse's Wish List

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In the spirit of the holidays, it only seems fitting to expound on the topic of gifts. As a farm vet, I've received my share of unique gifts from clients (jars of pickled fish tops the list), but I recently received an equestrienne catalogue in the mail, and flipping through it I saw the most interesting things for dressing up your horse. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a Wish List for the world's most accessorized horse.

1. Sleazy Sleepwear

This is actually a trademarked brand name horse product. And while it certainly sounds like a lingerie company, Sleazy Sleepwear refers to brightly colored and tackily patterned skintight blankets for horses. Now, why, you may ask, does one need to purchase a neon pink and yellow skintight blanket that covers the horse's head and neck? From my understanding, this is mainly for show purposes. Horses are notorious for lying in fresh manure right after you've spent hours bathing and grooming them in an attempt to get a chestnut coat so shiny you can almost see your reflection in it. Enter the Sleazy Sleepwear and you've got your problem solved. After said bath and grooming, you see, you place the Sleaziness onto the clean horse and, roll all he might, but this clothing protects him from the worst manure stains. It also helps tame a wild mane that seems determined to part in two or three different directions.

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Other types of Sleepwear also act as long johns of sorts. Put these on under a bulky winter coat for added insulation (and they also prevent rubbing). My only question is: How do you get them on in the first place?

2. Hoof glitter

Pedicures are not just for people anymore. Now your horse, too, can have the sparkly feet that presumably you've always wanted him or her to have. I giggle a bit at the thought of the poor 4-H pony that suffers a gaggle of girls, one at each hoof, painting on an enamel-thick layer of hoof glitter that may, for all I know, require a chisel to remove. Good luck, farrier.

3. Mane and tail extensions

Of course to go with hoof glitter, there are mane and tail extensions. Bored of your bay's blasé black mane? Why not mix it up a bit with some pink, blue, or purple extensions? I have seen these used in parades and they sometimes are a nice complement to a rider in full costume. But of course the neighbor pony with an attitude is always endearing when she tears across the field in a fit of rage at the thought of coming in for a ride, and yet you spy bright pink hairs in her mane, leading you to believe that she's not really as tough as she makes out to be.

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4. Body paint

Now, although this at first seems to fall into the same category as the above two gifts (i.e., gifts for 12-year old horse-crazy girls), I will argue that this gift can actually be cool. Of course, if given the opportunity, who would waste the chance of writing their sworn enemy's name on a horse's hiney? But animal-safe body paint is awesome as a learning tool. In fact, every year in vet school for our open house, a lovely Palomino would be volunteered to have a skeleton and internal organs outlined with body paint so we could explain to the public where her rib cage ended, how an equine digestive system is laid out, and that yes, horses have elbows and knees, too. Of course by the end of the day, I was always sorely tempted to draw a smiley face on her rump - but wouldn't you be, too?

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5. For the vet

Of course this list would be incomplete if not for suggestions as to what to give your favorite horse vet. It turns out we are pretty easy to shop for. The guarantee of a working and warm bathroom is enough for me, but if you're looking for something really special this year, how about assuring your vet with a guarantee that the hoof glitter and purple body paint that have now turned your gray Shetland pony named Sprinkles into something like a four-legged grape is water-based and hypo-allergenic.

Dr. Anna O'Brien

Your High-Maintenance Horse's Wish List originally appeared on petMD.com

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