The holiday season, a prelude to the new year, is a time to reflect on the past year. We are all thankful for the victories: the show where everything went right, the breakthrough with that special young horse, the trail ride only a poet or painter could begin to describe, or the time we grasped the rail, with drumming hearts as our child showed in his or her first class.
As we look back on these moments, it's important to remember some of the supporting cast who helped make them possible:
- The barn manager who kept things running while we were away.
- The veterinarian who made that late-night call to relieve our horse's colic.
- The farrier who re-set that loose shoe just in time.
- The farmer who delivered the load of hay when we needed it.
- The feed store who filled those "special" orders.
- The mechanic who packed those trailer bearings on last-minute's notice.
We all have a few other names and faces we could add to this list of stars. The babysitter, the good neighbor, the guy who fixed the manure spreader or helped start the tractor on a cold February morning--all deserve a special thank you as the holidays approach.
Here are a few gift ideas, some horsey, some not, that can help say what the words cannot express:
- Gift certificates for oil changes, tune-ups, carwashes, the feed store, restaurants, the tack shop or the hardware store.
- Phone cards.
- Magazine subscriptions (visit the Equine Network magazine store for ideas).
- Memberships in horse-related organizations.
- Donations to humane societies or other charitable groups.
- Horse books or videos from stores like HorseBooksEtc.com.
- Services: Massages for horse or rider, equine dental service, clinic registration.
- For the stable: a first-aid kit, a radio, a coffee maker, a space heater or a fan.
- For the barn dog or cat: a new blanket, feed bowl or bed.
- A stable kit, including hand tools, screw eyes and snaps for those quick repairs that always need doing.
- A tractor first-aid kit, including tire repair stuff, spare parts and hand tools (See The Tractor: the Farm's Unsung Hero.)
- A fence first aid kit, including fence staples, post ties, electrical clips and extra hinges--those things that keep breaking.
- New contest equipment, like jumps, barrels or cones.
- Bales of bedding.
Remember, to a farm owner, time is also a precious gift. Cleaning stalls, cooking a dinner, or de-cobwebbing the barn can make a big difference to the person who never sits from dawn to dark. One of the best gifts we ever received and never forgot was a boarder who washed and repaired a heap of forgotten turn-out rugs, something we always said we would do but couldn't find time for.
An artistic person once painted us a new sign for the place, something we never would do for ourselves, but it is much-appreciated and gives our farm a needed identity. A homemade book of coupons for chores around the place can give back an afternoon and restore a stressed-out worker. If you use your imagination, gift-giving doesn't have to be expensive to show someone you care.
Visit the Everything Horses Gift Guide for more ideas for the humans and horses on your list.