For it is in giving that we receive.     – St. Francis of Assisi


horse with santa hatDear Dobbin,

The holidays are upon us. Fruitcake, parties, cards, and carols. We always give something to our riding instructors at the holidays — wine, gift cards, a heartfelt thanks. But we’ve (shamefully) not given gifts to the barn helpers. Our daughter has now been riding at a barn for long enough that we’ve come to know not only the trainers and other riders but all the horses and helpers at the barn. What do you suggest as a gift for those ‘behind the scenes’ folks who help with the horses, tack, and everything else we don’t see? I love a darn gift card (or cash) but I need Dobbin’s counsel to guide me in case I’m unoriginal and/or off-base.


Clueless Horse Mom


dear-dobbin-horzDear Clueless Horse Mom,

You are not as clueless as you contend. Bless your heart for recognizing those behind the scenes who make so much go smoothly in a lesson or boarding barn. My favorite gift for barn staff and volunteers is one size fits all CASH. There is nothing that spreads the spirit of Christmas like a card containing some of the green and some specific praise and thanks. Of course some edible treats and/or wearable items to fight cold weather are an added bonus. If you know that a particular worker has an addiction to a specific coffee house or eating establishment, by all means, give a gift card that shows you were thinking of them. A super practical item for this time of year is a headlamp, your local outdoors shop should carry a variety. If you want to go a bit luxe, it’s hard to top alpaca socks.

Dobbin can’t resist this opportunity to expound on those who work day in and day out to keep our bedding clean, water and feed us. These devoted souls know that we in the animal kingdom have no calendars, we are dependent on them every day. Our needs don’t become suspended on any holiday. When you are gathered with your friends and family indoors on a cold winter’s day, take a minute to think of those tending to livestock and animals that are boarded for the holidays. And whenever you can all year round, take the time to offer cheerful and sincere greetings and thanks to those who are the bedrock of your equine recreation. Sincere smiles and compliments cost you nothing, be generous with them!

Be of Good Cheer,

Dobbin wishes all creatures great and small a wonderful holiday Season!

Your friend Dobbin invites your questions regarding the horse life. Dobbin’s experiences span 45 years of teaching hunter/jumper and combined training riders, fox hunting, trail riding for pleasure and competition , sales, dressage and a smattering of Western riding. Dobbin is at the ready to handle questions and your identity may remain confidential if you prefer. No inquiry too big or too small. Email Dobbin c/o Please put Dear Dobbin in your subject line.