The Gift of Time Brings Joy in Any Season
by Kim Roe
Sometimes the holidays are overwhelming. We want to give presents that reflect how important our friends and loved ones are to us, but purchasing multiple gifts brings on a financial crisis. Or maybe we just don’t know what our favorite horse person wants or needs.
This holiday season consider giving the gift of time, sharing something you already have, or creating something unique that might be appreciated. You can design a coupon book or an IOU note to tuck into a card. That way, the gift can be collected even after the holiday season is over. Here’s a list of my top picks of money-free gifts for horse people.
Take care of their horses so they can get away. This might be my favorite present. The downside of horses in your backyard is that getting away can be nearly impossible. Many couples are forced to take separate vacations. If you have the ability and skills to care for horses, give your friend a vacation from horse care and an opportunity to get off the farm. It is a great present for any horse person – even if it is just for one feeding.
Clean up the farm. About six months after the death of my husband I was exhausted. The upkeep on my farm had become overwhelming and I had fallen behind on simple things, like weeding flower beds, weed-whacking, and general clean up around the barn. A group of my students and their parents showed up and spent a day helping with these chores.
Last winter, after our terrible ice and wind storms, my place was littered with fallen trees and branches. Two students and their significant others came with chainsaws and strong backs. They spent a whole day helping me deal with the mess. In both cases, I was deeply touched. These are gifts I will never forget.
Go for a ride. Do you know someone who often rides alone? Or maybe there’s someone who’d love to go for a trail ride, but doesn’t have a trail-riding buddy. Invite them to ride with you. Devise a schedule and meet them on a regular basis. Show them some nice trails, or spend an enjoyable hour or two in an arena. You can brainstorm, talk about goals, and enjoy each other’s company. It might be a gift to both of you.
Groom at a show. Do you have a friend that would like to go to some shows but can’t manage the experience alone, doesn’t have a trainer, or can’t afford to hire a groom? If you have grooming skills and aren’t showing, your presence at the show and a helping hand will be most appreciated.
Give a lesson. This is mostly for professionals. We can offer someone the gift of knowledge and experience. One warning: many horse people do not appreciate unasked for help. I never offer help unless it’s requested. But if you have a student who is struggling to pay for lessons, giving them some freebies is a wonderful gift.
Haul them. Many horse owners know the frustration of being without a truck and trailer. They dream of going to a clinic, a trail ride, a lesson, or a show, but don’t have the wheels to get there. Offer to haul them to one of these events. I’ve seen this gift given often, especially to children in Pony Club and 4-H. I’m always moved by the generosity of those adults willing to do this for a child who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
Decorate the barn (or house). For many years, a good friend of mine has cut and brought me a Christmas tree when she cuts her own. It’s a gift I really appreciate. Another friend makes and gives beautiful wreaths. These simple acts of kindness and generosity bring me great joy in the holiday season.
Put some thought into how to help someone or share a talent. You might just make this holiday season the best one ever for a friend or loved one – and for yourself too!
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.