Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmases Past

I grew up horse crazy since the day I was born. I can't remember a moment in my life that I wasn't crazy about horses. Unfortunately, my family did not have money for a horse, and we lived in town. I had to get my horse fix on friends' horses and with surrogate horses--Breyer models.

Of course, my Christmas wishes revolved around a real horse. Even though I knew I'd never get a pony for Christmas, I did have an over-active imagination. So every Christmas eve, I'd fall asleep dreaming of a pony in my front yard when I woke up on Christmas morning with a big bow in his mane. I hoped for a rich golden palomino with a luxurious cream-colored mane and tail--which I knew wasn't going to happen--so I asked for the next best thing.

When Christmas morning came around, I shook boxes and ripped open packages, hoping among hopes that I'd get the latest and greatest Breyer horse models.

Breyer horses dominated my bedroom shelves. I cut up cardboard and made fences on the floor of my bedroom, used boxes for stables, and green rugs for pastures. At one time, my herd numbered over one hundred horses. They all had names. In order to remember them all, I actually put masking tape on their bellies with their names. My all-time favorite was the Man o' War model. Man o'War was my horse idol. I read everything I could get on him. I had C. W. Anderson prints of him and his progeny on my bedroom walls.

I remember getting the Walter Farley book on "Man o' War" for one Christmas and how I loved that book. I also devoured The Black Stallion series. To this day I have every Black Stallion book Walter Farley ever wrote.

To me the perfect Christmas growing up involved a couple Walter Farley books and some new Breyer models. Clothes and dolls were an immense disappointment when it came to gifts. All I wanted was horses, horses, horses.

Over the years, the Breyer horses have been replaced by real horses, but my ideal Christmas gift still revolves around horses. I've never been one to want jewelry. Give me a new bridle, saddle pad, or breeches, maybe a pair of riding boots, and I'll be the happiest woman on earth. Give me diamonds, and I'll pretend to love the jewels. In the end, they'll be in my jewelry box collecting dust because jewelry just isn't practical around horses.

What were your favorite Christmas gifts?


Francesca Prescott said...

I had a few of those plastic horses since I was horse crazy too. But mostly I had ceramic horses...and they were blue. Don't know why, but blue they were! I think they're all probably in a box at my parents place. I had shelf loads of them. Like you, I also wished for a pony every Christmas, but we couldn't afford one so I used to cry a lot!

I'm a bit naughty and tend to buy myself the horsey Xmas presents I really want as my husband is totally clueless when it comes to horses!!! I've ordered a black saddle blanket with a silver trim. I'm considering having Qrac's name embroidered on it, but not sure. Is it a bit tacky? I'd love a beautiful diamanté brow band, someting uber blingy, but classy none the less (there are some hideous ones around!!). I'd like a pair of custom made riding boots, they'd have to be stiff but not too stiff as I hate having sore feet (and often do). I'd like a really nice helmet - I was at a horse show yesterday and saw some amazing classily blingy helmets that cost an arm and four legs...but boy are they cool! I'd like a few more pairs of Pikeur jodpurs with "leather" bums. I tried on a newish brand called Animo (they're Italian, do you know them?) that are very trendy over here and also insanely expensive (seriously, Pikeur are cheap in comparison)but luckily they looked horrible on me. I was quite disappointed as they look great on my friend Heike. I'd like another Asmar all weather coat as I love the one I bought from them in the summer. I have a plum one, but kind of fancy one in navy blue, or maybe red. Have you seen them? They are gorgeous!!!! So flattering! And very warm, very comfortable, and seriously clever too (hidden flap that you can unclip to protect your saddle from rain) And I think they're doing free shipping in the US during December (which doesn't affect me, sadly, and shipping is soooo expensive to Europe).

Oh, and I'd like some new gloves with a bit of diamanté on them (what's with me and the diamanté this year?!), as I saw someone riding with them yesterday at the horse show and they looked really elegant.

Not sure I should thank you for this post Jami as now I want loads of things!!!

Laura Crum said...

I was the same, Jami. Wanted a horse, knew I wouldn't get one and asked for Breyer horses. I had more like twenty--nowhere near a hundred, though. Mine all had names, too. I had some ceramic horses, too, they all had names, too. They are in my son's room today. Funnily, one was a palomino I named Sunshine. And now I have a palomino I call Sunshine (!)

I make do with the same old horse gear these days. But I did buy myself a nice new lightweight but warm vest for riding. I tend to buy my own Xmas presents, too. My husband and I are both that way. This year he's buying himself another set of bagpipes. So I'm entitled to pick out a few things, too.

Thanks for a fun post.

TBDancer said...

I grew up before the Breyer craze, but I do have a plastic "Trigger" with saddle and bridle that is quite collectible, or so I've heard ;o)

My parents didn't let me live the horse dream--no riding lessons or pony out in the yard Christmas morning. I got books, and we went to cowboy movies (I LOVED Randolph Scott ;o)

I knew the names of every cowboy star's horse. My mother rode hunters when her father was in the Army, so English riding was always my choice, but cowboy movies were great.

In my late 20s, I moved to California and decided I could afford to subsidize my own horse dream, and I've been doing that on and off for 40 years.

"English" has become "dressage," the QH I started with has now turned into a love of OTTBs, and my Christmas presents revolve around horse stuff. (This year my present is a dressage saddle that actually works for me ;o) Have a feeling that will be my present for years to come.

Dreaming said...

Same story here!
I didn't get that many Breyer horses, but I had a few.
I remember getting and loving a Thelwell book. I also got a leather purse with a snaffle bit closure. I loved that!

wilsonc said...

My favorite presents were books. Especially the ones about horses and dogs. Funny but when I got older got married and had children I didn't think I was an animal person. Somewhere in my forties my penchant for horses and dogs returned and I morphed from books to the real thing. I like me a lot better now.

jenj said...

I loved Breyer models too, although I didn't have nearly as many as you did! Horse books were good too, and brushes, breeches... I remember one year my grandparents got me a hunt coat for shows, and that was the BEST PRESENT EVER!

These days we try to play down Christmas and make it more about spending time with family than stuff. Realistically, if I want a new saddle pad or gloves, I can go out and buy them any day of the week. I'd LOVE a new pair of tall boots, since I've had mine for like 15 years and they really don't fit. BUT... I'm not showing and I don't need super-fancy boots for foxhunting, so a new pair of boots is kind of impractical for the price. Maybe when the kids are out of college?

Francesca, I hear you about the bling! I loooove some of those browbands, they are so pretty! But let's face it, cleaning mud off a pretty browband after a day's hunting would not be fun... guess I'll stick with the plain stuff for now. Sigh.

Alison said...

Enjoyed the nostalic post, Jami. I had a Steiff pony named, well, pony. I still have it today, but it is sadly tattered from much love and, of course, being ridden by my Madame Alexander doll.

lmel said...

Ditto on the horse models. I had only one--with moving legs, but I couldn't get my dang Francie doll to ride him. Those simpering girls couldn't straddle a horse. My parents could never afford a horse, or lessons, so books and summer riding camp were my concession prizes. And I lived for both! My CW Anderson books are still my favorites. And finally, a year and a half ago, my dream came true--an OTTB Halawa Moon, aka Harley. It's been quite an adventure that I'm relishing every day.