Holiday Gift Ideas: Custom Bonnets by Frilly Fillies

Lucid Opposition, Caroline Dein's upper-level horse, models a Frilly Fillies custom bonnet. Photo by Nancy Dein.

Ah, the holidays. Colder weather, over-eating, baking, clipping horses, gift-giving and gift-buying, and of course, gift anxiety. ‘Tis the season to have absolutely no idea what to get any of your friends or family, for the umpteenth year in a row. Every once in a while, you find the perfect present, but especially for horsey friends, the pressure is on. Obviously you’ll be purchasing something horse-related, but does it have to be pink and have a fat pony on it?

We here at Eventing Nation say NAY! That’s why this holiday season, I’ve corralled each one of our impressive staff writers into picking one unique, amazing, thoughtful and clever horsey gift to help you along during this time of stress. We’ve chosen things that we want to get for the holidays, so obviously they are phenomenal ideas.

My pick for the holidays comes from personal experience: I own a horse with teeny-tiny ears, and while I try to make him look stylish for shows and wear a bonnet, it always backfires because I have the tell-tale tip flop going on. So not cool looking. I found out about Frilly Fillies through the grapevine, and after watching Hawley Bennett-Awad sport them at Rolex and Pau, I’ve been obsessively stalking their website ever since. I’m honestly hoping that one of my family members reads this and takes the hint, because these bonnets are the bomb.

Black and Gold with Rhinestones. Photo by Nancy Dein.

I had the chance to talk to the creator of Frilly Fillies, Nancy Dein, and pick her mind about how she came up with the idea. Nancy’s daughter, Caroline, is an avid eventer in Sacramento, Calif., and rides with Earl and Jenny McFall of DragonFire Farms. “Last fall, Caroline and Jenny were searching for some bright red bonnets, and I thought that I’d maybe try to make them myself,” Nancy said.

Despite having never crocheted anything before, she went on YouTube and taught herself how to knit creations out of yarn pretty quickly. In January of 2013, Nancy was approached by Hawley Bennett-Awad, who was searching for some bling to put on Ginny’s head. After talking design for a few months, Nancy discovered how to customize the bonnets for different-sized horse heads, and since then she’s simply been bombarded by requests.

Nancy has a fabulous set of designs and 73 preset bonnets that you can order, but that’s not the best part of Frilly Fillies. You can design your own bonnet with custom colors and bling, different ear sizes and many varied materials. If you can’t find what you want on the site, you can call Nancy and talk to her about what you have in mind. “It’s pretty  much anything people can come up with,” Nancy said. “If you can think of it, I can design it for your horse.”

Custom pink and black bonnet. Photo by Nancy Dein.

“This fall, I was driving to Twin Rivers Horse Trials really early in the morning, and this horse and rider come toward me in the morning light, and they were wearing my bonnet. I didn’t even know them! It means so much to me that people love my bonnets and that they are so popular amongst the professionals; it’s really exciting.”

Nancy reports that the West Coast is pretty familiar with her product thanks to Jenny McFall, Frankie Thieriot and Hawley Bennett-Awad, but she’s thrilled to have made connections on the East Coast with riders like Allison Springer, Lainey Ashker and Caitlin Silliman.

I’m clearly not the only one hankering for these for Christmas, and they make the perfect fancy stocking stuffer. Eventers love being able to get stuff in their colors, and with added bling, what more could you want! Tune in next week to find out what EN writer Ellie Thompson has on her wish list.

[Frilly Fillies Website]  [Frilly Fillies Facebook]

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