Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Do You Give a Horse For Christmas?

by Natalie Keller Reinert

I don't have many Christmas traditions.

In fact, I think the only one I keep up with are the Happy Hippos in our Christmas stockings, and that one is only a few years old!

Source: flickr/vintagehalloweencollector
The thing is, I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas, so it was basically an opportunity to have some time off of school and, once I had a horse to occupy me, extra barn-time. At some boarding stables, every horse got a stocking filled with treats from the barn owner -- that was the extent of my Christmas celebration, and that was fine with me. Hard to miss what you don't have, right? As a manager at an equestrian center, I carried on that tradition, making sure every boarder horse had a stocking full of horse cookies.

Sometime in my mid-teens, I decided I should have a tradition for my birthday and Christmas (two holidays I still didn't celebrate, mind you!) and naturally centered it around my horse. On those days, no matter how bad the weather or how busy my life, I'd have a fun ride on my horse. And for a while, I managed to carry on my personal little tradition, whether I was riding through scented orange groves in Central Florida or around the taxis and carriages of the lower loop of Central Park. No training, no tough work. It was time to hang my feet out of the stirrups and leave a loop in my reins.

Which was nice for both of us, naturally, so I suppose it might have counted as a present for my horse. But really? I never did much by way of Christmas presents for my horses. But I'm getting a little softer and nicer as I get older, so it's possible that someday I'll cave and shower every horse in my vicinity with gifts.

So I decided to ask the Internets: hey, horse-people, what do you give your horses for Christmas? I asked the question on two of my Facebook pages (Retired Racehorse Blog and Natalie Keller Reinert: Equestrian Fiction) and got lots of answers. Presents for horses seem to fall into a few key categories: horse clothes, horse treats, and yay toys!

Here are some responses:
  • "This year it is a new halter, lead rope, horse cookies, angel mints, carrots and apples."
  • "Every year they get an Xmas morning bran mash. Candy canes, apples, carrots, molasses, and banana chips." (yum!!)
  • "About 25 boxes of candy canes as soon as they go on sale after Christmas."
  • "Treats, new blankets- turn-out and fleece."
  • "My gelding is getting some gingerbread cookies, candy canes and a tin of Werthers -- his most favourite treats!"
  • "My horse gets toys, he got a Jollyball sidekick companion, football, stackers and chew toys to go on his crossbar in his stall!"
  • "Starlight mints, of course! Also a new turnout halter, carrots, candy canes, and tub of Nicker Makers. Spoiled much?"
I adore all the love that goes into Christmas for these horses. One horse literally gets toys under the tree like he's a little kid! I am imagining a pony pushing around a fire engine.

So now I want to know: what do you give your horses for Christmas? Or is it just another day at the barn, business as usual (no shame in that!)? Share in the comments or over at my Facebook pages, and if you're running a little late with the shopping, maybe you'll get a few ideas!

Merry Christmas, all you pony people!

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