Guest writer Alison Kennedy details some ways to pay homage to a special equine buddy that has since crossed the rainbow bridge or that we have had to find a new home for whatever reason. Read about her awesome ideas below!
When I was a junior in college, I made the decision to find a new home for my horse. I bought him for myself when I turned 18, but I struggled to pay for him while in school. I was fortunate enough to find a great home for him, where they took care of him until he needed to be put down. Even though I made the right decision by selling him, there has always been a part of me that regretted it, and I still miss him. No matter what the situation, it’s never easy to lose a horse. Whether it’s to an accident, illness, sale, a lease ending, or moving barns, a horse leaving your life is incredibly difficult to deal with. I’ve had a few years of practice, and these are some of the ways that I’ve come up with to cope with the loss of my first horse.
Nameplate bracelets are one of the most popular ways I’ve seen to proclaim your love for your horse. I personally have three. Some of the bracelets are just simple leather with a nameplate. Others have padding or bling. It’s all about your personal style. Choosing different fonts and designs to add to the nameplate brings out the personality of both you and your horse. I wear one of mine every day! I know that SmartPak and Dover both carry nameplate bracelets with tons of options. My favorite tack shop Equus Now! also carries one; I think they have some of the best font options for a plain leather bracelet. If you want to be really creative, check out Starfish Farms. They offer a ton of padding color options, and their bracelets are beautiful! I have a burgundy padded havana one with my first horse’s show name on it, and I wear it for special occasions.
Braided horsehair bracelets are another fantastic jewelry option. When I made the decision to sell my first horse, a friend of mine had one made for me, and it’s something I treasure! I don’t wear it every day, but I’m certainly glad I have it. Different companies offer different options, such as unique braid patterns, charms, clasps, and other options. If you don’t have your own horse, some offer bracelets made from horses they know! The group of women I boarded with last year all chipped in to buy a bracelet for a friend of ours who made the decision to sell her horse. I sneakily clipped the hair from his tail, and we bought a bracelet from Tailspin. It’s absolutely beautiful! When gathering hair, be sure to snip several small sections instead of one large section to avoid awkward gaps in your horse’s tail. Double check with the company you choose to see how much hair they request, as it does vary. Some artists request that you wash the hair before you send it; others do not. Remember to check all policies before ordering, and if you’re unsure, you can always email your company of choice and ask!
Note: Keep in mind when ordering a nameplate bracelet or a braided horsehair bracelet that they are custom, made-to-order items and will take longer to arrive. If you’re considering buying one as a present for someone, make sure to order in enough time. Processing and shipping times should be posted on the company’s website. If you’re really pressed for time, consider buying a gift card to the company instead. That way whoever you’re buying for can design their own creation.
For something that can be displayed, consider having a custom model horse painted. There are several artists on Etsy who offer custom models in all sizes from Breyer Stablemates to Traditional size models. There are options to fit every price point and budget. A friend of mine is one of those talented artists, and she created a custom portrait model of my first horse. I had a model that I already liked, and I gave it to her to do her magic. I have to say, it turned out stunning! Check out her Facebook page – Echo Expressions. Her page features pictures of her models as well as images of the horses that they look like! Other artists can be found by searching on Etsy. Make sure to provide your artist with high quality reference images of your horse; the better they can see your horse, the better your model will turn out!
Now, tattoos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re so inclined, memorial tattoos can be a gorgeous and permanent way to show off your love for your horse. Definitely take tons of time deciding about tattoos – they’re not a decision to be made lightly! I actually have two tattoos for my first horse, and two of my other friends have tattoos for their horses as well. Smaller pieces, such as Thoroughbred lip ID numbers or brands, can make great tattoos. One of my friends has a horse with a very unique brand – a three toed paw print. She took the image to an artist and ended up getting the “brand” on her left hip. Now she and her mare match! Several people I know, including myself, have Thoroughbred lip ID numbers as tattoos. Some people even get them on their lips to match their horses, but that didn’t appeal to me. Mine is on my forearm. Larger custom pieces are obviously more expensive but can be absolutely stunning. The artist who did my half sleeve also did a friend of mine’s smaller custom piece for her horse, Simon. The most important things when thinking about getting a tattoo are finding the right artist and planning ahead. I took two years to plan and budget for my largest tattoo. Take the time to save up for any tattoo work – even small ones cost a lot! One of the best pieces of advice that anyone gave me when I was considering my first tattoo was to draw out what I wanted, just a basic image, then post that picture somewhere that I would see it every day. If I could look at it every day for a year, then consider getting it done.
Losing a horse is never easy, and memorializing them is a super personal thing. These are by no means the only ways to remember your horse. I’m sure that our lovely readers can come up with several more!