As an adult amateur rider with a professional career, I’ve been a boarder nearly all my horsey life. My horses have stayed at a variety of farms as I moved around for jobs and what have you over the years.

Come Christmas time, you’ll learn quickly just how serious your barn family is about the holiday season. I’m not talking about your average festive party. I’m talking about how crazy they get about decorating the property for the holidays.

I’ve boarded a facilities that hosted decorating contests – in which horse owners competed against one another for whoever had the best stall decorations each year. And let me tell you, some people go ALL OUT on this kind of thing. My own horse found a way to rip off the candy canes stapled to his stall door the one time I tried to do a “Candy Land” theme….

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Another farm I’ve kept my horses at turned the property into a spooky horse’s anxiety nightmare come December: with the big blow-up spinning Santas and bouncing inflatable reindeer stationed at the front of the barn and down the driveway. Going for a light hack during the last month of the year was always dicey if the decorations were plugged in and spraying “fake snow” everywhere…

Other farms opt for more low-key offerings. I had a barn manager who made every horse in the barn its own stocking to hang in front of its stall during December, with the horse’s name embroidered on it. The week of Christmas, she’d fill the stockings with homemade horse treats, peppermints and other goodies. It was a really nice personal touch, which brightened up the barn aisle without too much effort nor feeling overwhelming or tacky.

I’ve also seen some creative Christmas tree iterations at the barn. One barn owner replaced ornaments with horse show ribbons for a tree they kept in the tack room. Another replaced ornaments with horse-themed wine bottles (think 14 Hands and Dark Horse wineries) which was a fun twist for the mostly adult-amateur boarders there.

What are you favorite holiday decorating traditions at the barn? Feel free to share in the comments.