Christmas is right around the corner, and if you're anything like me, you still have some "Santa Claus-ing" to do. Have no fear; if you want to show your appreciation through the time-honored tradition of giving gifts, I've got you covered. If you're reading this, chances are you're an equestrian with an important trainer in your life, or you have tragically fallen in love with said trainer (you're in for a ride) and now are trying to figure out how to show you care. If you fall into one of these categories, below are some gift ideas for any budget or literally no budget at all.
Giving a meaningful gift can be easy if you understand what the person you are about to shower with presents values. Most professional equestrians, at least in eventing, are very practical people. They tend to value useful things and things that they don't have the time, money, and/or energy to do for themselves. This may be a blanket statement, but as a professional myself and having countless friends in the industry, I think it's pretty safe to say. So with that in mind, here are my suggestions to show you care this holiday season.
Santa's Helper Budget - better known as $0
There's no shame in this game, especially after the dumpster fire that is 2020. These simple things can mean so much to your favorite pro because they give them the most valuable item of all, which is time.
Do chores: Offer to do one day or even half a day or heck just help them to get done faster. Bonus points if you offer to do it on Christmas!
Fix something: You know that thing in the barn that is slightly annoying but also not important enough to move to the top of the list and get done...that thing!
Provide 2 or 4 legged babysitting services: It's such a treat to go out for the night or getaway for a day and know that your precious children are in good hands!
Think Practical Budget - Under $20
If you value giving small gifts that pack a big punch, look no further. Trainers tend to avoid buying little things not because they don't want/need them but because they have grander ideas of what they will spend their precious income on (read horses).
Hand/toe warmers: If your trainer stays north for the winter, I guarantee these presents will be a game-changer on the long, cold days in the barn. Being able to feel your digits makes all the difference!
Sunscreen/sunglasses/SPF lip balm: If your trainer heads south for the winter, this is the perfect gift that says I care about you and don't want you to end up looking weathered beyond your years!
Socks: When I was younger my mom always put socks in my Christmas stocking and I was like what kind of monster gives someone socks?! Present-day me is like, heck yes, I'll take those socks and wear them until there are literal holes in them. It happens a lot to equestrians, so you really can never have enough.
Sensible Savvy Budget - Under $50
You have a bit more to spend, but still want to give a useful and not frivolous gift.
New gloves: Have you ever looked at your trainer's gloves? I would be willing to bet that they have at least one hole in them or at least some loose stitching. We wear through gloves like nobody's business and want to make the most out of their short time with us. The rule of thumb (at least for me) is we will wear them until the number of holes is equivalent to half the number of fingers.
New pitchfork or broom: Next time you're at the barn, just take a peek at the pitchfork and broom situation. I feel pretty good about my odds in saying that the pitchfork is missing a tine or two, and the broom has been swept down to a stump. Perhaps this seems like a silly gift but having fully functional tools is one of life's simple pleasures. If you haven't had the chance to sweep with a brand new broom, you haven't lived!
Generous Gifter Budget - Under $100
Things they need and will probably buy for themselves at some point, but it will make their lives easier later if you do it now.
Sun shirt or base layer: I don't know a single trainer who doesn't enjoy a good sun shirt in warm weather and a solid base layer in the cold. Again, we will wear them into the ground, so it's always nice to have more options to put into the rotation.
Memberships: The timing of renewing memberships (USEA, USEF, etc.) is not ideal for most trainers. It always comes at the end of the year when money can be tight since the "off-season" coincides with the holiday season, which means less money in and more cash out. We appreciate our governing bodies and know dues are essential to keep the sport we love going. So if you want to take care of that for us, it takes one thing off our to-do list.
Photo: I bet your trainer is pretty incredible, and I'm sure their awesomeness has been captured in a picture at some point in their riding career. I want you to put your stalking skills to use (don't deny you have them) and find the most epic shot of them. Buy it from the show photographer and frame that shit! Boom, perfect present!
I Have Some Disposable Income Budget - Under $250
You have some extra money to use wisely and want to spread the love with a practical gift that requires a bit of dough, or you want to spoil them with something indulgent.
Lesson/clinic: Offer to pay for them to take a lesson or a clinic with their favorite instructor. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own business that we neglect to continue our education, but knowledge is power, baby. Also, what they learn will help them become better teachers and have new skills to pass on. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Truck/trailer detailed: Again, something that can get overlooked or not figured into the budget, but is always appreciated when it's done. Driving a radiant rig does wonders in lifting morale!
Spa Package: Who doesn't love a day at the spa?! I would suggest a sports massage and not your typical "relaxing" massage. We put our bodies through the wringer and need some therapeutic work done. Also, if you can add another service like a facial or mani/pedi that will add to the experience. This gift is sure to please!
Hey, Big Spender Budget - Over $250
You've had a good year or life or whatever and want to go all out for your trainer with something that will enhance their life.
CEECOACH Headset: If your trainer doesn't already have one, this is a must! They will love not having to shout across the ring and their ability to have a conversation with their students using their inside voice. Full disclosure, this may be a shameless plug to my students who read this...
Getaway: It can be one night or any amount of time that fits your budget at a nice hotel or resort. Preferably close like 1-2 hours so travel doesn't take away too much from their time off the farm. We tend to overwork ourselves and not schedule a time to rest and recover. Also, we easily fall into the trap of something that can be done at any time is often done at no time. Meaning if it doesn't get scheduled, it doesn't happen. I guarantee if you offer them a free place to get away, they will get it on the schedule!
Horse: I'm only half kidding, but if you have a good relationship with your trainer and you want to invest in their riding career, this could be something to consider. Also, they may wish to gain investors in their current horses. It can be hard to ask for help, so if you bring up the subject first and ask if there is any way you can get involved, that is one of the greatest gifts. The horse industry is all about #teamworkmakesthedreamwork!
These are just some options, but hopefully, it sparked your inspiration to discover the perfect gift to show your trainer what an important role they play in your life. The sky is the limit, so get creative and display it in any way that resonates with you and your budget. 2020 has been a tough year, to say the least, but let's end it on a positive note with thoughtful gifts for the exceptional equestrians in our lives!