Stable Advice: Holiday Gifts for Horse Professionals


Editor’s Note: Stable Advice is a place for our readers to offer their advice on some of those uniquely equestrian problems. These aren’t the questions that you’d normally ask your vet or trainer. These are questions about horse life, like dealing with interpersonal struggles at the barn, juggling horse commitments and “real world” obligations, and generally navigating the challenges of living in the 21st-century horse world. Think of this as a place to share advice with a group of your best equestrian friends.

Wrapped Present

This month’s question:

What’s the appropriate etiquette for holiday gifts in the horse world? There are a lot of people who are essential to my horse’s well-being: the vet; the farrier; the barn manager at my boarding stable; my riding instructor. I know they’re all professionals who are being paid for their work, but I really appreciate them and would like to show it. However, I’m not sure what’s an appropriate gift. There are all kinds of guides on how to tip your hairdresser and newspaper delivery person, but what about horse professionals? Is it appropriate to give a monetary tip, or would that be awkward? What’s a good holiday gift idea for trainers, vets, etc.?


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  1. This is a question that I myself have encountered many times. I overall think this is a personal decision as well as what an individual would consider the right gift for our horse professionals. Sure a lot of people may say that our payment of services or business is their gift, but is that really the best way to thank our equine professionals? Many of us take them for granted and even forget how much they have to go trough to help keep our equine friends happy, healthy, and fit for us. If we didn’t have these wonderful equine professionals, our horses may not even be in the healthy condition or state that they are in. Ultimately I beleive it is an individual’s personal preference but I would give a gift to my equine professionals for being there for me and my horse and for providing such wonderful care and services. Monetary gifts again is a personal choice but may not be appropriate. I think some appropriate gifts would be like gloves, tools etc. for a farrier; some carrying cases, first aid kit, monogrammed apparel or personal hobby items for our equine vets and maybe some monogrammed apparel, bags or decor for trainers and all other equine professionals as well. The choices are endless!!!

  2. For gift giving, I like to give a gift that will be used. One of my best friends is a barn manager and while she appreciates horse themed gifts, she would much rather a giftcard for dinner or to a tack store. I have found that a giftcard is better than a gift item because there is nothing worse then receiving an item you already have ten of or that does not fit. When a giftcard was not financially viable for me I would bake a batch of cookies, dress them nice in a box and give them as gifts. Everyone loves cookies! I have also found on the internet custom soap in the shape of horses. Everyone can use soap and they will think of you every time they wash their hands!

  3. Maybe dig a little bit into what they personally love doing, and give them something that supports that. Or, if one really likes a certain restaurant or store,ice-cream shop, etc., provide a gift card. Or maybe your veterinarian or farrier really likes home-cookin’!:) Whip up a batch of brownies, a pie, or something of the likes, and take it on over as a holiday greeting:) Of course, if they are diabetic, or allergic to a kind of food product that would be in your holiday goodies, substitute or go to the next recipe! ‘Safety first, ladies!’ 😉

  4. What you give will depend on the culture at your barn. At big show barns, monetary tips for your farrier, trainer, and barn workers are often the norm. But if you’re at a smaller facility and have a more personal relationship with these people, some homemade brownies or a gift card might be more appropriate. I tend to give Dunkin Donuts gift cards to the farrier and others who I know are on the road a lot. It’s not very creative, but I figure they can never have too much coffee! You might also consider talking to your fellow boarders and lesson students about gifts for your barn manager and riding instructor. You could pool your cash and get them something really nice for the farm or a more substantial gift card to their favorite store.

  5. Get something that your trainer, vet farrier, etc. would enjoy and can use for themselves. You can’t go wrong with some homemade (or store-bought if you aren’t the baking type) treats such as cookies or brownies. Include a handwritten note and tell them how much you and your horse appreciate all they do! Including a cute picture of you and your horse is always good too. If you don’t want to go the food route, make a picture collage. This is a great way to show how grateful you are for your trainer and how far you have come. This is usually only done for trainers unless you are really close to your vet and farrier. When in doubt, a picture plus handwritten note is the way to go. You can go wrong with a cute card!

  6. I like to get the horse professionals in my life something practical with something personal. For example, my trainer can always use more saddle soap and she loves coffee. I’ll get her a small thing of saddle soap and a horse themed travel mug. Something simple that doesn’t add to the pile of cookies they get every year for the holidays. It let’s them know that I appreciate their friendship/professional help without being overboard.

  7. Instead of giving money I would give a gift certificate to somewhere I know they enjoy. It could be somewhere horse-related, like a tack store, or something non-horse-related, such as a favorite restaurant.

  8. Giving the right gift can be hard. You deal with personality differences and you don’t necessarily know everything about the person, but you know one thing. Whoever this is for really loves their horse or job. So how can you accommodate to them? You can always give a tip. It may be awkward, but I’m sure the bonus would be appreciated. Go to a local tack shop and get some things or cool gadgets on sale or clearance. They’re sure to have some sort of holiday discount. Gift certificates are always nice too. Get one to a local restaurant or shopping center. They’re people too! Another option is make a card and write something nice that shows your grateful for their services. If you like baking, make some treats or even some cookies for the owner or professional. If you have some extra spending money, you can buy a nice trail bag or sport boots. Like to draw? Draw their horse or favorite breed and get it framed. Like to take pictures? Offer to photograph their horse or them doing their job. The opportunities are simply endless! Just get creative and show them how much you appreciate their hard work!


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