At the age of 12, I had wanted an English saddle for a long time. Right before Christmas, we looked at the saddle a friend was selling, and I got super excited and pretty sure I was going to receive the saddle as a gift. But the next day my mom told me that someone else took the saddle. Still, on Christmas day I was halfway hoping for the saddle as I opened my gifts. But it wasn’t there. Then I looked out the window, and there was my horse, standing tied at the gate with the saddle on his back! My parents sure surprised me!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a horse trailer standing in the driveway for my 13th birthday. It saves a lot of money hauling and gives me a peace of mind knowing that in any emergency I can pack up my horse and go.
I was 11 when, two years ago, I received my best horse-related holiday gift: a small plush stuffed animal horse named I named Amigo after a horse at the stables where I ride.
I am a member and this year, a whipper-in of Beech Grove Hunt in Middle Tennessee. For my Bat Mitzvah, the huntsman, Elese Alsup, MFH, gave me one of her hunt whips as a gift. It means a lot because it was one of her whips, and it makes me feel like an important member of the hunt. I will enjoy many years hunting and carrying my whip.
Last Christmas, my non-horsy husband surprised me with a First Aid Kit that he totally assembled by himself! He included Bute, DMSO, Banamine, bandage cutting scissors, 4x4s, Vet Wrap and tons of other necessary things! He won’t “give up” his sources for advice and guidance, but the care and love he packed in that kit to help keep my horse healthy, means more to me than a dressage score of 70 percent!
I don’t know where my love of horses came from… the rest of my family are all sailors. When I joined Pony Club, my mom drove hours every weekend to drop me off and pick me up, but my dad, a workaholic, was never very supportive. I only had jeans and rubber boots to ride in and during 35 years of owning horses, he only saw me ride once. Then, the Christmas after my parents split up, my dad gave me a pair of beige jodphurs! I burst into tears. I am 57 now… and I still have those jodphurs!
On Christmas morning I opened my first gift from Santa and found a winter horse blanket. I unfolded it and crawled inside as if it were a sleeping bag. The rest of the morning I lay in my new blanket. It was so warm I almost didn’t want to give it to my horse. I did, of course (it fit perfectly), and the blanket lasted several years until it became worn and tattered and the horses thought it looked better as confetti. But it was still the best gift because I remember it as if I curled up inside it yesterday.
Back in 1990 or ’91, I was living in Maryland and my family was in Texas, so I sent them a “wish list” from a catalog. One of the items was a custom wool-blend cooler with a monogram and knit anti-sweat lining. I was delighted when I received it, but I moved back to Texas soon afterward, where it was too hot for the cooler. I ended up using it as a wintertime blanket on my bed to save on heating bills. Years later, I still enjoy the cooler for that purpose!
My grandma and Helen were my biggest “horsey” fans–always there to watch and try to help when I was a kid. Once, while “antiqueing,” they came across a large, handmade, trunk with iron handles. It had been used by the owner’s daughter as a tack trunk, so Grandma and Helen bought it for me and my Arabian horse Ahlam. I still use it daily–and my best fans are always with me.
In spite of loving care, my poor old paddock boots were growing feeble. I was slowly saving to buy new ones when a friend gave me a nice, fat holiday gift certificate. Thanks to her, I was able to treat myself to a delicious pair of paddock boots Ariat Cobalt XR Performer Pros in the color and size of my choice. I think of my friend every time I ride!
Enschede, The Netherlands
The best horsy Christmas gift I ever received was a thermos with a picture of my horse on one side and on the other, one of my favorite quotes, “I gallop with my eyes shut tight and a fist full of mane in my hands.” It was an amazing gift, not only because it was so thoughtful and personal, but also practical. Who doesn’t enjoy a hot cup of coffee or cocoa on the way to the barn on a frosty morning? What made the gift even more exciting and memorable is that I don’t know who gave it to me–not personally, anyway. It came, along with some other goodies, through my favorite online bulletin board’s Secret Santa, who did enough digging to find out about my love of coffee, get a picture of my horse, and put together a beautiful gift. It was touching… and it’s a gift that’s still in use to this day!
The best gift I received was a chunk of glass that had been laser cut with an image of me riding my horse in our first show together. The same Christmas I gave my mom a calendar that my brother and I made. We had taken turns photographing each other with my horse Bella. It was great because I actually got my brother to ride!
The best horse-related gift I ever gave was on April Fools’ Day two years ago! I used non-toxic, washable paint to paint “HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY” in bright yellow and orange on the side of my friend Allison’s pinto pony! When Allison saw the paint, she burst into hysterical laughter, knowing immediately that it could only have been done by her prankster friend, Katie.
I am an adult (very) amateur rider and I do not own a horse. Last Christmas, my instructor and the owner of the farm where I work gave me four lessons with my instructor–in itself a great gift–on any of the farm’s horses, including my favorite schoolmaster as well as an Ontario eventing champion. It was a tough choice, but I chose the school master and he and my instructor showed me things I’ve only heard or read about.
To read more answers, see the December 2008 issue of Practical Horseman. Find out how to participate in future questions in the Practical Horseman forum.