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Great Christmas Gifts and a Great CA Trail Area for Riders to Enjoy!

wchnov2016-1As published in the Nov, 2016 issue of West Coast Horsemen Magazine

Great Gifts and a Great Trail Area for Riders to Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is already upon us. It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying the heat of summer and judging by the advertising, it seems that we’ve skipped Thanksgiving and are headed straight into Christmas. I often find myself searching for gift ideas that are both thoughtful and unique around this time of year.

Stockings hung from the chimney with care? A simple feed bucket is a much more versatile container for small items and can be used year ‘round unlike a glorified red and green sock.  Do It Yourselfers can easily create a very thoughtful and unique gift by simply filling a feed bucket with items that you’ve picked out yourself. Once the bucket is full, wrap it in craft paper; tie with a bailing twine bow, and presto! You’re done.

But what shall we fill the bucket with?

whinniesTreats – For the horses that is; the rider will do just fine during the holiday season! A special treat that will have the ponies running at dinnertime can be made at home. Here’s a recipe I’ve found that my horses enjoy throughout the year.

  • 1 cup oats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2Tbl molasses
  • Peppermints

Mix the oats and water first then add the molasses. Roll the sticky mixture into balls and press a peppermint in the center. Store in the refrigerator until they’re hard.

Not a fan of dirty dishes?  Try Winnies Cookies and let Winnie do the cooking! These Ellie tested and approved horse treats are made of organic ingredients, handmade, baked fresh, and shipped directly to you.  Get yours at

img_4298Smooth Stride Riding Jeans – They look like a western style jean but have all of the advanced features of English breeches. The end result is practical riding pants that are comfortable, functional, and stylish.

Smooth Stride’s innovative sizing system, based on various equine breeds, guarantees a great fit. Three different lengths and a wide variety of sizes ensures that riders can find their next favorite pair of jeans. From Arabian to Nokota, Smooth Stride has you covered!

The Colt program makes choosing the right size easy and eliminates wondering if maybe you should have ordered a size smaller/larger. If you aren’t sure what size you wear, you can order two different sizes, try them both on at home, then return the one you don’t want. Even better, SmoothStride pays the shipping.

Get yours at

img_4853Trailer Eyes Trailer Cam – If you’ve ever wondered what kind of mischief was happening in the horse trailer behind you the Trailer Eyes Trailer Cam system will bring a sense of relief with a worry free drive to your next trail riding destination.  I believe that this device is an excellent safety essential for anyone who hauls horses.

Designed to send video signals from your trailer to a monitor in the cab of your towing vehicle the Trailer Eyes system is easy to setup and monitor. I’ve found that the device is helpful not only to keep an eye on the ponies as we travel down the road but also as an aid for backing the trailer!

Get yours at

dscn2995EquestriSafe Fetlock ID Band – Have you ever wondered what might or could happen to your horse if the two of you were separated? Whether a horse wonders away from camp, gets loose at home, or has to be evacuated during an emergency some type of identification is a must if you’re to be confident about being reunited.

In the past I’ve used indelible markers on hooves as well as paint and grease markers on hide. There’s a better way to let someone know who a strange animal belongs to. The EquestriSafe Fetlock ID band.

This wonderful product can be described in four words. Durable. Visible. Safe. Affordable.

The fetlock ID band gives me comforting peace of mind when I’m riding in remote areas as well as when I’m closer to home. With my phone number embroidered on the bright neon orange band anyone that finds the horse will have a quick and easy way to contact me.

Get yours at

img_4581Pack Saddle – Once you’ve filled your gift bucket you can carry it with a good pack saddle! Over the past few years I’ve come to love my Formfitter pack saddle. This modified decker rig has visited numerous wilderness areas across the Pacific Northwest and beyond with no issues either for my pack animal or me. It’s a winner.

Beyond flexible bars and tree the saddle boasts outstanding workmanship in both the leatherwork and the hardware.  Butter soft chap leather lines the breeching and breast collar, while buckle covers add a pleasant esthetic while preventing hair loss.

Wade and Simone of Outfitters Pack Station are the gurus of Phillips Formfitter pack saddle fit and take the time to make sure that everything is measured twice to ensure a good fit for your animal.

Get yours at –

Well there you go; a great set of Christmas gift ideas sure to please your favorite trail rider!

Now for a fabulous place to ride and enjoy those new gifts!

zmudowskiCA – Zmudowski State Beach, Monterey

Trailhead coordinates: 36.836067, -121.801476

On the Web at –

I’ve had the privilege of visiting a fair number of the horse friendly beaches on the west coast and to my mind a sunset ride along the beach is one of the best things that life has to offer. Watching the sun dip below the horizon of the Pacific at the end of a sunset beach ride is beyond nice.

The California coast is one of my favorite places to enjoy a ride and there are plenty of places to enjoy a beach ride along its 3,427 miles of coastline. Central California is spectacular and the Monterey area especially so.

With a large number of horse friendly beaches in the area we have plenty of options in finding a place to enjoy from horseback. Some locations have equines as a regular beach fixture. Others offer a more secluded ride where it’s just you, your animal, and the beach. These are the areas where I tend to find myself. Once such often-overlooked day riding destination is the Zmudowski State Beach just twenty miles north of the city of Monterey and only an hour from San Jose.

Besides the roar the crashing waves and brisk ocean breezes riders at Zmudowski will encounter a multitude of creatures of the sea, air, and land as they ride over the wide sandy beach. Views of whales breaching in the waters is a common occurrence. Every winter and spring Gray Whales migrate through the waters of Monterey Bay. Seeing a mother and baby whale just off the beach while on horseback is a memorable experience. Other bay residents include seals that enjoy basking on the beach and off course a wide variety of shore birds including pelicans and terns.

Although horse riding is allowed year round, when riding here please stay near the waterline on the hard packed wet sand. Riding on the dunes, other than where you cross from the parking area is also prohibited. As with the vast majority of California State Parks you’ll also want to leave the dog at home.

Happy Trails! For more detailed information on Zmudowski as well as many other excellent horse ridign and camping locations visit, the largest horse trail and camping directory in North America.