Like most Horse Junkies, I’ve been addicted to all things equestrian from a young age; which meant birthdays and Christmases full of horse-related clothing, Breyer horses, stuffed ponies, and stockings filled with knick-knacks plastered in horses and horse shoes and bits.
Usually, the horse gifts I ask for receive some amount of questioning/justification for why it’s on my list (Breyers were a bone of contention with my mother, she never understood why plastic horses were so expensive…but as a horse-crazed child, of course I was willing to trade my left kidney for a Breyer).
As I’ve gotten older and entered horse ownership, not much has changed, but the presents I receive related to my horse are more pointed. While I buy whatever my horse needs in the immediate future, I put items that I really, really want or wouldn’t necessarily run out and buy for us right at this very second on our Christmas list.
My mom has some background in the horse world, but the rest of my family has gotten an education in all things equine, in part, from their gifting to The Mare and I.
The very first horse-related gift I can remember that I got was from my godparents: a lime green and navy paisley saddle pad and matching halter and lead rope. I didn’t have a horse, but I WAS SO EXCITED that they chose something off my list that could be used on a living, breathing horse. My mom was so confused why they got them for me when I didn’t own a horse, but I didn’t care. That saddle pad and lead rope stayed reserved for about four years until I brought The Mare home, and you bet your behind she was decked out in lime green paisley. And the first time all of it ended up on my horse, I sent a picture to my godmother.
I received gifts that were universally useful: a brush set, number holders, boot socks, stuff like that.
But after I got The Mare, my wishlist became more specific, which earned its fair share of questions from my family.
One year my brother got polos for The Mare and I. He wanted to know what their purpose was (and why I specifically didn’t want white or overly colorful ones…we were at our collegiate barn where the muted hunter colors were ‘in’). The same year, I asked for a set of standing wraps. I had to explain to my mother what the different sizes meant, and what they were used for.
The first year I had The Mare, I asked for a stable blanket for her. I didn’t know much about blanketing, other than in a harsh Ohio winter, I wanted my pony to stay toasty. My mom actually talked at length with my trainer and the company she ended up buying the blanket from, and measured the horse herself AND got a great deal.
I usually always have a pair of breeches on my wishlist; my siblings were gunning for a pair of SmartPak Pipers for me, but they were out of stock of the knee patch style in the color and size I wanted, so they got the full seats instead. When I opened them, both my brother and sister started saying how they couldn’t get the knee patch, and they only had the full seat, and they didn’t really know what the difference was, but they knew they weren’t the same thing. I was so proud – they were learning!
Last year I asked for EquiFlex Sleeves (the equine compression socks) because The Mare was recovering from a cellulitis and I thought they might be able to help drive down her residual tissue swelling. My grandparents got them for me, and after I opened the box and enthusiastically thanked them, my grandma told me how surprised she was that they had socks for horses. I took a picture of them on The Mare and sent it to her to show her how well they worked.
That same year, my godparents didn’t seem phased at all when “Unrelenting” topped my list, along with Home Depot cards so I could make my own jumps. That book is well-worn, and I have six sets of jumps after spending my winter break playing with power tools and painting stripes.
Some of the items intrigue, others confuse, but at this point, my family knows if it’s on my list it’s something I really, really want for The Mare and I (and if they don’t understand, I love giving an explanation).
Over time, my family has picked up on the color scheme that I like for my horse, I love clothes I can wear to the barn and to class, if it has my horse on it (or a Morgan, or a black horse that looks like my horse, doesn’t matter what it is, I’ll probably love it).
This year, the item topping my list is white breeches. My mom asked for my list, and after sending it I got a text: “Why white breeches?” I told her it was mostly a professionalism thing, but as we prepare for Morgan Grand National (and dabbling in eventing), that I’d need a pair for the level of showing I’d be doing, and I probably should have already invested in a pair.
That reasoning seemed to resonate with her. “But why WHITE? Don’t they get dirty??” Yes, probably. Some things even I can’t explain.