“When I was about eight years old, I got leather riding boots for Christmas. I remember putting them on—and my riding hat, too—and marching around my bedroom and looking in the mirror. No pictures were taken, thank goodness!” –Kim Cook, Marketing Director
“My best Christmas with horses has to be the year that Santa answered my repeated request for a pony. I received this great gift as a ten-year-old, when my horse experience was limited to begging riding time from horse-owning friends. It was truly a memorable gift in many ways. You see, while Santa’s intent was good, he appeared to have as much experience matching horses to riders as my family did. Had Santa had time to consider he might have wondered why this particular ‘Christmas pony’—a 15-hand Morgan named ‘Beelzebub’ (which loosely translates to ‘prince of demons’) who arrived with a full bridle and a cut-back saddle—was the right gift for a child who had only limited riding experience in hunt seat saddles. Seven months after this Christmas wish was granted, it was loaded right back on the trailer of the dealer who delivered it, as it was most well-known for bucking its rider off every time she rode it! (In hindsight I wonder if this dealer actually sold this horse every Christmas with the same result!)
“But, like a true horseperson, I was not to be discouraged. Many wonderful horses followed my first Christmas pony, and I still own, ride, and love horses—and Santa—to this day.” –Julie Beaulieu, Promotions Director
“Ever since I sat on the neighbor’s skewbald pony when I was three-years-old, I’ve been horse-crazy. Neither of my parents were the least bit interested in horses, but by the time I was five it was clear the horse thing wasn’t going away. Fortunately, I had a grandmother who understood. She grew up riding, driving, and loving horses. The summer I turned six she insisted that I could start riding lessons. By age eight, I had a lesson each week during the summer. Of course, I longed to have a horse of my own. I was told repeatedly I wasn’t going to own a horse until I was ‘older.’ That didn’t stop me from dreaming. There was a small tack shop about ten miles from our home. It was a huge treat to go and look at the saddles, bridles, brushes, even the fly spray and hoof oil, because these items meant HORSE OWNERSHIP! Grandmother sympathized with the angst of her granddaughter. Christmas morning of my eighth year brought a package containing a rubber curry comb and a soft brush. These were the very best gifts because they meant surely a horse couldn’t be too far in the future!
“I finally got a horse of my own at twelve. Over thirty years later when asked what was the best horse-related gift I’d ever received those brushes came to mind. Not only do I remember how I proudly displayed them in my room, but amazingly, I still own the soft brush with its polished wooden handle. I used it only yesterday to brush my horses’ faces. It means so much after all these years and brings to mind my grandmother. She’d be so happy and proud I still have horses and that brush. Though a small gift, it was huge to me at the time and still holds meaning all these Christmases later.” –Martha Cook, Managing Director
“I finally got my first pony at age nine, and a string of give-aways, loaners, and free-leases filled our barn in the years that followed. My parents weren’t horsey, and we didn’t have much money, so it was a big deal for them to support my passion as much as they did. It was understood that it wasn’t in the budget to have fancy tack, so I outfitted my horses with used equipment found at tack swaps, Pony Club sales, and consignment racks. I still kick myself for trading a beautiful hardcover copy of Black Beauty inscribed by some dear friends for a cheap all-purpose saddle when I was ten…but at the time, being on a horse’s back was more important than cherishing keepsakes.
“At fourteen I was free-leasing a lovely gray Anglo-Arab mare named Asil—she was sweet, willing, spirited, and loved to jump, just like I did. I traded barn work for lessons and made plans to compete her locally. That Christmas I opened a big box under the tree to find the most beautiful, brand new bridle—dark brown with a raised braided browband and noseband—and a maroon halter and lead rope that were perfect for Asil’s coloring. I can still remember the feeling of amazement that my parents, who knew nothing about horses, had put the time and effort into choosing items that were sized correctly for my horse and were such perfect colors. Those gifts represented their love and support, and meant more than anything.
“Asil and I cleaned up at the local shows that year, and we even had our picture in the paper, with Asil wearing that maroon halter and looking very sharp indeed!” –Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor