I did a search and can't find any guidance on holiday tipping for trainers and others. I've been riding at a school barn for just a couple years. What is appropriate? Should I tip my trainer (whom I don't pay directly, I send checks directly to the barn owner whom I have never met. I mention this because I wouldn't just be able discreetly to add the equivalent of a lesson or two to my check, for example, and know that it would reach the trainer). Should I tip the farrier or the fellow who mucks stalls? I do my own tack and care for the school horse I'm riding that day, so there is no groom to speak of. In the past I just gave a small gift to my trainer but I'm not sure if that is correct. Thanks for your guidance.
I prefer to give gifts to trainers, barn managers, farriers and vets. I wouldn't worry too much about it, it doesn't have to be a huge gift. Grooms and barn workers get tips, and to be honest I tend to be most generous with these folks. In your case, even though you don't own a horse that the barn workers are caring for directly, I think it still would be nice to share the holiday spirit with the workers in some simple way--maybe some home made cookies or something like that.
I'm not a trainer but a BO/BM and every year my clients give me gifts at the holidays. I'm so grateful for their generosity, but honestly I'm mostly grateful to have such nice people as clients, they didn't really need to get me anything! OTOH, I see every day how my workers go out of their way to take the best care possible of all the horses and it really warms my heart to see clients appreciating that.
For people who do actual physical labor, you give cash money in a holder with a brief note: "Juan, thank you so much for helping to take such good care of Twinkletoes. Merry Christmas, Ms. Smith." It also doesn't hurt to leave a box of cupcakes or Fudge or cookies. As for an amount, I tip two different people $20 each, along with something I've cooked. This is north of Atlanta, and not a show barn.
For the BO/BM, who is not normally doing as much physical labor, perhaps a gift certificate to a nicer restaurant. My BO/BM is super and I always write her a very nice note.
My sister's riding coach/trainer has hinted VERY strongly that she would like washable wool boot socks knit to fit. She knows I knit. )
I think it also depends on the barn - can you ask some of the other people at your barn what is the norm? At my last barn, we all chipped in and bought the BO a gift (non-barn related), and then I got the barn workers a general gift (one year I gave them an electric kettle and hot drink mixes - that kettle was a big hit!), the stall guys always get cash. Because the BO was also my trainer, I did not give an individual trainer gift.
At my new barn, a friend and I are going in on a gift for the trainer/BM, I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do for the barn workers, I'll give cash to the stall guys, and gift certificates to the farrier/vet. They always seem to want coffee!
Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.
"I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)
I always give my trainer a gift (this year I have 3!) and I also give the workers (stall mucking, blanketing, turnout, etc but not grooms) a $50 gift card to walmart and some homemade cookies or something. I think everyone appreciates something nice at the holidays for all their hard work!