Is there any way to truly repay our horses for the magic they bring into our lives? Gen Griffin counts her equine blessings.
Every year, I fill my gelding’s stocking with candy canes, grooming tools and an assortment of goodies that sometimes appeal for him and sometimes appeal to me. I’ve been questioned in the past as to why I give gifts to an animal who does not understand the concept of Christmas in the slightest. My answer is always the same. The gifts I give my horse are small, almost insignificant, when compared to the gifts he has given to me over the last 14 years.
Every morning I wake up knowing there is at least one living creature who is eagerly awaiting my arrival. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a good day or a bad day or if the weather is beautiful or lousy. I know I always have someone waiting on me at the barn.
My horse makes sure I get my exercise once I arrive at the barn too. No need to join a gym. I have stalls to clean, bags of feed to tote and bales of hay to haul. A complete workout every day of the week.
My horse has given me a keen sense of fashion. I may look like a slob to the Average Joe but I’m wearing $200 boots, $75 jeans and a belt buckle that cost more entry fees than I care to admit. You’ll never catch me in hundred dollar peep-toe heels, but when it comes to chaps, last I heard smoothie is out and rough leather is back in. Also, I have an excuse to wear sparkles. Lots and lots of sparkles.
Speaking of fashion, my horse always needs something. So many nifty horse products come out every year that I just have to try out. My horse gives me the excuse to go hog-wild while shopping in the tack store and love every single minute of it.
My horse also make me easy to shop for (which means y’all can thank my horse for making your Christmas shopping so much easier!). You can’t go wrong as long as your giving me tack, riding clothes or barn supplies. Even cute horsey statues, stuffed animals and jewelry can easily be the perfect gift.
My horse has gifted me with more medical knowledge than I ever wanted to possess. I can bandage boo-boos and drain wounds like the nurse I never wanted to be. I no longer panic when I see blood or an injury, I just grab the antiseptic and the Vet Wrap and go to it.
My horse has also gifted me with a cast iron stomach. Years of horse show concession stand food have taught me how to consume almost anything without complaining. After all, if I can eat a burger that my horse just sneezed on in between classes, I can eat anything. I can also discuss the goriest and yuckiest of equine topics during a meal without feeling the slightest bit put off of my food.
My horse has taught me creativity and patience. I haven’t just learned to ride, I have learned to teach my horse what I want as I ride. I have learned the true meaning of being a partner, even when everything seems to be going wrong. I’ve learned to find the creative solution to our problems and misunderstandings. I’ve learned to approach my struggles from different angles, especially if the approach I have been taking isn’t working.
My horse has taught me to get back up again and try after a fall, even when the failure is still stinging. He’s given me humility, teaching me to face and admit my own mistakes.
My horse has given me an identity. It doesn’t matter where I go in life, I can always be described as that crazy horse girl and I have always been able to find other crazy horse girls to be my friends.
And speaking of friends, my horse friends are my best friends. Horse friends don’t care about how much money you have and how big of a mess your family life may be at any given moment. Horse friends share in struggles and provide comfort when things are going less than right. Horses have provided a solid foundation for many of my friendships. In fact, if I had never owned my horse then it is likely I would never have met some of the people I hold nearest and dearest in my life. My horse lead me to some of the best people in my life and I can never repay him for that gift.
Most importantly, my horse has given me his unconditional love and acceptance. He loves me no matter how old I am, how much I weigh or how frustrated I feel. He loves me when we are winning and he loves me just the same when I give the wrong cue in the middle of a show class. He still loved me even after I messed up with the clippers that one time and shaved all his upper eyelashes off on one side. He has forgiven my mistakes and helped me overcome many of my flaws as I matured from a teenage girl into a woman. In a way, the gifts he has given me have helped form me into the woman I am.
When I fill my gelding’s stocking this year, I’ll be putting in as many treats in as it can hold and know that I can never give him enough gifts to repay the gifts he has given me.
Gen Anne Griffin is a freelance writer with a lifelong passion for horses. Gen Anne enjoys using her 15 years of equine experience to share both knowledge and common horse-sense with the horse community as a whole. Gen Anne lives in Florida with her amazing husband, two wonderful sons and Romy, the palomino Quarter Horse she grew up with.