Wondering what would be a good holiday gift for the hard-working individual who cares for your horse when you can’t? Live Gude of Professional Equine Grooms has a few ideas…
How do you pick a holiday gift for the Awesome Barn Worker (ABW) in your life? The best way to figure out what your ABW would like is to observe them in their natural habitat (don’t be creepy) and see how you can improve up things. As a general rule, the ABW lacks time, money, and pampering.
What you see: A single day off, hair always in a hat, car seats coated in horse hair. This translates into no time for fun as days off are errands, chores, laundry and grocery shopping. Also, no time for shampoo, no time for a haircut, no time for car cleaning.
Take action now: Give the gift of time by taking some chores away! Offer to do the grocery run or some errands for your ABW. Coordinate with other owners in the barn and tell your ABW to sleep in as everyone mucks their own stalls and grooms their own horses. Offer to do the sweeping at the end of the day, clean the pile of dirty tack, and start the infinite loads of horse laundry that need to get done. Even one hour of “freedom” is much appreciated. (Insert melodramatic music and imagine your groom running down the driveway celebrating).
What you see: Your ABW drinks generic coffee (egads!), lives on PB&J for lunch, and holds their paddock boots together with duct tape and fingers crossed. What this means = no money!
How you can help: Cash gifts are always welcome. Then, your ABW can go crazy and spend it on something practical (or not). You can also get together with your barn buddies and go in on something big that your ABW needs—entry fees to a show, a new microwave, a spiffy new winter jacket.
What you see: Barn manicures done with saddle cleaning lederbalsam, your ABW limping around after stacking hay all afternoon, a thick layer of barn grime covering all surfaces of your ABW.
Try this: Get your ABW to a proper salon, pronto! Nothing says “I appreciate you” more then a long overdue massage to work out the kinks. And while a mani or haircut or facial won’t last forever, it sure will be enjoyed. Gift baskets of yummy smelling things that go well with hot water are nice, too. Can you imagine your ABW’s Instagram feed—a photo of clean?!
What you see: Your ABW is shy about sharing what they need. What this means: You must transform into a detective. This is where your “paying attention” skills come in handy.
What you can do: If your ABW loves music, replace the ratty old iPod and tangled up ear buds with a new and wireless system! If baling twine is a great substitute for a belt, help out with a new way to hold pants up. If your ABW has their own horse on a shoestring budget, take a stealthy look at reins, stirrup leathers, saddle pads and replace the worn items.
While it’s super tempting to give you ABW a gift card, I’ll bet they would rather have you take them to dinner, go shopping with them, or help out with chores and errands instead. So much of the holidays are about people and relationships, so honor what your ABW does for your and your horse.
Have a wonderful holiday season and remember, a simple and heartfelt “Thank you!” is the greatest and easiest gift of all. Thank your barn workers!