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Memorializing Horse and Deceased Horse Tack

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  • Memorializing Horse and Deceased Horse Tack

    This is an awful topic to have for my first post on this site, but i’m at my wits end. I lost my one and only mare, my true heart horse, this past June. I still have no idea what to do with her belongings. I have been telling myself that with some time I’ll figure out the answer, but so far I’ve only come up with small ideas for specific pieces of tack. This is what i’ve come up with so far:

    Hanging up her main double bridle and main snaffle bridle with her original bits.

    I have her original halter from years ago and her special occasions/blingy one that she passed in. I was also thinking of hanging those up, but now I feel having 4 pieces of her head gear on the wall may be a little much? Any other ideas for those?

    I also have her fun, very iconic pink polo wraps and white show wraps that I feel like I want to somehow display. Any suggestions for those would be greatly appreciated.

    Now down to the tough stuff that i’m clueless about. I have acquired a very large quantity of tack and supplies over the years. Due to life changes I have recently moved twice and will be moving once more in about 6-9 months. I currently have two completely full tack trunks, about 7 large garbage bags, two suitcases full, and a large pile of loose blankets. I’m looking for advice from people who ended up keeping and storing a large quantity of their horses things after they’ve passed.

    I’m currently sorting through everything now and there are definitely a few things that I have zero emotional attachment to (turnout boots she hasn’t worn in 3 years, reins I didn’t like, things I bought that didn’t fit her, etc.) What should I do with the other things? I have a different new to me double bridle that was going to be used in our upcoming show season. I have a drop noseband bridle that I had been playing around with which happens to be the last bridle I rode her in. There’s a large quantity of matchy-matchy tack that I have ridden her in over the years. Not to mention the large quantity of blankets she has, but she spent her last two winters naked so they haven’t been used in years, but they’re still hers.

    I apologize for the long winded post, but i’m hoping a few of you could share your methods with coping and strategies of how you handled everything. There’s tons of articles online on how to cope with the emotional baggage, but none that talk about the physical baggage.

  • #2

    I"m sorry for your loss groovygroom, and I think you are doing great to be asking these questions.
    I'm sure there would be a nearby horse sanctuary or rescue organization that would love to have the stable supplies, blankets, and boots, wraps etc for their program, and that would be a wonderful cause to support in memory of your partner. The tack could be donated to a local riding club that holds tack sales as fundraisers. Our local club has an annual tack sale and the proceeds goes towards maintaining trails in our area.
    It would also be very neat to give a few pieces to dear friends and comrades who have ridden with you and who will remember your mare in the same way you do. I don't think its too much to have four bridles/halters on display if it brings you comfort. Perhaps you could have a rack in a hallway that has a tack room feel to it?

    Its good to take time with these things and make sure everything finds the "right" home.


    • #3
      I saved stuff for 30 years... back into it now and some of the stuff is still good... but... I ended up NOW donating stuff to a horse rescue. It didn’t fit my new horse. I carried that stuff around too long. My mementos are a couple horse shoe plaques my sister made up for me. The brushes and stuff that was useful I still have and use. The stuff that was emotional I find still in one of my trunks.

      on the other hand a very good friend who last her horse recently brought over her stuff and what fit my new horse I bought off her for cheap and we both appreciated the exchange. I also bought her trailer and have used it more in the last year and a half then she did in ten. None of this is really good advice except think about getting rid of the stuff that has no meaning. I had so.much.stuff. Now I have MORE.


      • #4
        For the things you want to keep, there are some shadow boxes that are deep enough (and large enough) for headstalls and halters. (And of course, halters can be arranged to lay more "flat", so easier option there.) You could always get a shadow box that you mount on the wall and then hang headpieces off the corner (or use them to bookend some other equine memorial - a photo, etc).

        If you are interested in getting some money for things, I would organize them into sensibly "related" groups and advertise away. Facebook can be a good option, although if you are like me sometimes it's just a PITA to deal with the selling process and a place that will take things on consignment is less of a hassle despite there being less I would bother to sell that way.

        Contact a lesson program you like and see if they would be interested in some of the riding artifacts (saddle pads, bits, assorted everyday tack items like reins, oftentimes boots or leg wraps were all things I have seen lesson programs graciously and gratefully accept). Likewise, many of them may have wider options of horses that are always in need of "new clothes" - same with horse rescues.

        If you have a wider network of equine friends and want to make items available to them (as I have found that for me, it is easier to "rehome" items that I might have some passing emotional connection to if I know where it is going/that it is going to a good home/horses I know and like), a facebook photo album with items you're giving away can be a great way to just send a link out to folks you know.

        We accumulate so much in the course of our shared time with our equine partners.. it is hard after they've left us to look at the physical remains of those years, and it is daunting to try to rehome it all! Good luck - and I am also, very sorry for your loss. They are never with us long enough.


        • #5
          When my special horse died, I donated some of his stuff to a rescue. I sold my saddle because it was really nice and someone else could enjoy it. I kept his snaffle show bridle and sold his double and the bits. I kept his working snaffle and double--don't know why since my other horse was too huge for it. I kept his halters and his really nice blankets (that didn't fit my other horse). I gave some blankets and stuff to a friend for her retired horse. I had a bracelet made from his tail hair and wore it when I did my first grand prix with the horse I bought when he was slowing down. I also had a clay horsehair box made from his tail hair to house said bracelet. I have a tack trunk full of his best stuff that I saved (bridle, halter, blankets, boots) for my baby horse (it will all fit him at one time or another and I will think of him when I use it). I think that I will eventually use or sell all the tack

          Do you have any photos? I would put the photos on canvas (like What you really need to hang onto is the pictures and the memories.

          The other thing I did, which was more significant, is that I took a trophy I had won in my youth and had it made into a perpetual trophy and I sponsor a championship class with our GMO with that trophy annually, in his name.

          Do whatever makes you feel better. I cried for a long time, but donating the trophy and annually sponsoring it made me feel the best.


          • #6
            I'm so sorry for your loss. I also lost my beloved mare in June. She was 24 and it was sudden and unexpected. What I have done with her tack / items: donated some to others that would use them (brushes, boots). Also, a friend of mine is really good at selling things on eBay and FB pages. She sold her saddle and girth. I have 2 other horses---so some of her blankets got transitioned to them (luckily, all my mares wear a similar size). What I haven't done: something with her tail hairs. I love Cowgirls idea of making a bracelet and wearing it at shows. I looked at lots of ideas for memorial items with tail hairs on Etsy, so if you want to look for ideas---you could go there and do some searching. This thread will hopefully inspire me to get something special made with her tail. She was such a wonderful mare.
            Last edited by slp2; Mar. 15, 2019, 10:25 AM.


            • #7
              Sorry for your loss, GroovyGroom

              My Horse of a Lifetime TB who I had for 20yrs has been gone for 9yrs, but his grooming halter, w/nameplate, still hangs on what was his stall in my barn.
              DH's horse's grooming halter (also w/nameplate) has been reused by 2 others since I lost him & is currently worn by my riding horse.

              Blankets were worn by successors if they fit.
              If not, they got passed on to friends, donated or sold at tack swaps.
              Monogrammed coolers I kept - wool was shrunk by a cleaner & fits my 13h pony, fleece fits my current horse.
              Brushes also reused, excess ones donated.
              Bridles from my TB, DH's horse & his saddle now decorate my LR. Saddle sits atop an old DR chair, his bridle hung from the back & seat is piled with horse books.
              TB's bridle hangs from a tall drawer pull.

              I have shopping bags of ribbons won mostly by the TB & some by DH.
              One champion ribbon decorates the frame of a pastel of the TB, the others wait for me to decide on how & where to display them.
              ​​​​​​​Most have been waiting since the early 90s.

              IIWM, I'd put those pink polos in a shadowbox
              I'd keep the bridle worn most & probably the halter.
              For the rest of the tack & clothing, it would please me to think other horses were making use of it.
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • #8
                This is what I did with our old man's stuff. I picked things that I really associated with him, I still have some blankets etc, and will be donating those. So sorry for your loss, it's so hard to lose them.


                • #9
                  Those special polo wraps could be used as either a border or background for a shadowbox, especially if you're not opposed to cutting them.


                  • #10
                    I kept tack in my mother's basement for 25 years then repurposed it when I started riding again.

                    I think it is hard to make choices when you are still grieving. Do you think you will ever ride again? I get enormous satisfaction out of seeing my very old bridles and halters in use again on current horse.

                    I feel like less is more for memorial displays. Maybe a really really nice photo blown up and framed, and one item attached to frame? Or you could have a selection of items and rotate it through?


                    • #11
                      I picked one piece of tack from each horse (custom bridle, custom halter) and put it in a shadow box with a laminated photo and a couple of other items like a shoe, lock of mane and an engraved plate with the horse's name.

                      The other stuff was kept for the next horse, sold, or given away.


                      • #12
                        My SO had a, I'm not going to call it a shadow box, it's more of a deep picture frame made up when my first horse died. I didn't quite know what I wanted to do so I had taken her halter that had her nameplate on it and clipped some hair from her tail and put them in a room until I decided what I made up my mind. In the meantime he took matters into his own hands and had this custom thing done - it contains an 8' x 10' photo of her, the hair and the nameplate from the halter. I LOVE it. It's one of the few nice things he's ever done for me......
                        As the nameplate was removed from the halter I started using it on another horse her size, same goes for her blankets, they went either to her daughter or another horse I acquired a few years later. She died in the winter in one of her blankets and I was going to bury her in it but when my neighbor came with the backhoe to bury her he suggested I take it off, stating "If you're like my wife you'll end up with another horse that fits it" Although I didn't think so at the time he was right....She hadn't been ridden for 9 years before she died (she lived until age 34) so all her other things had already been repurposed.

                        I'm very sorry for your loss. I'll be facing that heartache in the next couple of years
                        Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.


                        • #13

                          I've seen lots of pillows made with bands of fabric. Perhaps make some with the polo wraps to snuggle up with, or even with a snaffle or bradoon. A good leatherworker or cobbler could make belts using the leather goods. I have a belt made with an old raised fancy-stitched crownpiece. Check out Pinterest, Drivenbydecor, etc.

                          So sorry for your loss, sounds like a deep one. Your mare may be looking down at you, neighing, 'hey, it's okay to let it go.'


                          • #14
                            So sorry for your loss.
                            I suggest waiting a good 6-9 months after the death, if you can, to make decisions about what to do with things.
                            I was in a hurry after my horse's death. In hindsight, there are a couple of things I gave away that i really wish I had kept.

                            Or, work on it bit by bit over the next few months.

                            Start with the things that mean nothing to you. Offer to horsey friends first, put up for sale on Facebook marketplace, or make a donation to your favorite horse rescue or lesson program (if they don't use the equipment, they could clean up to sell).