Getting a horse as a christmas gift can be a memorable and moving experience for both gift-giver and recipient.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best way to give someone a horse as a Christmas present (or bothday or other holiday) plus few ways that you can make sure that this moment is the gateway to years of enjoyment.
With a few easy tips to make the process of buying a surprise christmas-present horse a little smoother, you can avoid the too-common result of souring the recipient’s interest in horses due to receiving a poorly matched horse as a gift.
Ways to Present a Horse as a Christmas Gift
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There are countless dramatic ways to present a horse as a Christmas present. And you don’t need to be as bold as one 1960s Boy’s Life Magazine reader who walked a horse right into the living room! A horse itself is a gift that will get a big reaction even if you can’t tie it to the family Christmas tree! Here are some fun ways to package and present this incredible gift:
- 🎁🐴 For giving a horse to a child, you can have someone hold the horse outside a big window so it’s visible when kids come downstairs to open gifts.
- 🐎🎀 Give the recipient a wrapped present with a photo (or similar-looking model horse) in the box, along with a note.
- 🎄🐴 Get a huge red ribbon (like this one at Amazon) and fasten it around the horse’s neck. (Remember, horses are often scared the first time they encounter something like this, so get this used to it slowly)
- 🔖📕One final way to gift a horse and give the recipient something to unwrap is by wrapping up a saddle, bridle, or book and placing it under the tree. For a powerful and slow reveal, we love the children’s book If I Had a Horse Hardcover by Gianna Marino from our List of Best Books about Horses.
Giving a horse as a gift takes more than good packaging on Christmas (or birthday) morning, though. To make sure it’s something they remember fondly, review the following tips.
The tips below on giving a horse as a gift assume that the gift recipient has some experience with horses and is ready to take on horse ownership.
1. Find someone who knows your rider to shop/buy the horse
A good way to buy a horse as a surprise gift is to enlist the help of a professional who will be on your side. See, many horse dealers will act as though they are recommending horses in your rider’s best interest, but- like dealing with any salesman- that’s not always true. It’s important to get the opinion of a knowledgeable third-party that is on your side.
In this case, your daughter’s riding instructor, 4-H leader, Pony Club leader, or even veterinarian can help prevent disaster by screening out horses that would be a poor match for your rider.
Many horse trainers and riding instructors will find, evaluate, and even buy a horse for you for a 10% finder’s fee. This price is well worth paying if you aren’t a knowledgeable horse person. A professional can confirm the horse you give as a Christmas present will be a safe, fun,and appropriate fit for your rider.
Let’s Talk Safety.
🚫 Never gift a young or untrained horse to any horse-loving child, teen, or adult without professional training and support.
⚠️ Similarly, never gift a horse (even a very well-trained horse) to an inexperienced rider unless you can also provide for professional instruction and support.
Even if a horse is extremely well-trained, learning to handle horses safely is something that has to be learned.
If you have second thoughts, listen to them. Skip to the bottom of this article to learn some ideas for thoughtful alternatives – or lead-up gifts- to giving a horse outright.
2. Be Sneaky: Let Your Child Test Ride a Horse “For Someone Else”
Even better than having someone you trust check out a horse is having your rider check the horse out. Just because they’ve ridden the horse doesn’t mean they’ll suspect the surprise!
You can tell your son or daughter that they’ve been asked to “check out its suitability as a lesson horse for their riding stable,” or that they are “riding it to test it out for someone else who is going to receive the horse as a surprise gift.”
If your child is already in riding lessons, you can even maintain the rouse until the big day (typically, Christmas or a birthday) by having the horse brought to your daughter’s riding stable. You can board it, and even let your child ride it in lessons – all while disguising the horse as a new lesson horse for the stable. This has the potential to make the big day even more special, since the cherished gift isn’t just the long-dreamed-of horse, but a specific horse they’ve already bonded with.
3. Arrange Boarding for the Horse Christmas Present
Even if you have land and facilities to keep a horse, there’s much to learn about care and handling. A great way to learn the basics is to have your new horse delivered to a nearby boarding stable. If you live in an area where there are no boarding stables, try a nearby horse trainer or 4-H farm.
Boarding ensures that there’s a community of knowledgeable horse people to support your gift recipient in their first few weeks or months as a new horse owner. The community of other horse owners boarding in a shared stable almost always makes the experience of horseback riding more fun for kids and boosts the social benefits of horseback riding.
Boarding also makes gift-giving easy, since there’s no horse to sneak around on Christmas morning- simply a surprise trip in the car!
Very very important tips on horse gift-giving:
You would never buy your child an expensive musical instrument and not also provide a tutor or music lessons! The same logic should absolutely be applied to a sport that can be extremely dangerous when practiced improperly.
Do not fail to provide the rider with the resources to learn to enjoy their horse safely. Often the intent behind wanting to give your child a horse for Christmas – like wanting to create a cherished childhood memory of a good experience growing up with horses- can be better served through the gift of riding lessons. Riding lessons let a child experiment with the hobby, grow skills and confidence, develop a more positive body image, and build friendships with other riding students.
Simply put: If you can’t afford support to help your child learn to safely handle a horse, you should not give them a horse as a gift. A child’s first time riding a horse shouldn’t be on a horse that’s theirs unless abundant support resources are available.
Buy the Best Equipment you can Afford
I’ll say it again, you can buy smart, you can buy used, but do not buy cheap.
Horseback riding is an expensive sport. When a piece of equipment like a saddle is very cheap, there is a reason. Some tack stores are filled with imported, cheap equipment. This equipment does not last as long and often it is such poor quality that it is dangerous.
For example, if your saddle panels are stuffed with wood shavings instead of wool, this can create painful pressure points that, at best, can cause a horse to misbehave. At worst, they can debilitate your horse or cause a serious accident. Similarly, reins or stirrup leathers made from cheaper leather may seem like a deal. However, when they’re needed most brittle or thin leather can snap and cause an accident.
If you don’t have a trusted riding instructor you can trust to source equipment, you can still save money by buying used (here are some tips for buying a used horse saddle). Study websites of good tack stores and memorize higher-end brand names. Good equipment lasts for decades and is easy to find used on eBay, local tack stores, or Craigslist.
Final thoughts on How to Gift a Horse as a Christmas Present
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones how much you care than by giving them a horse? If you’re thinking of getting a horse as a Christmas gift, consider the costs and the benefits.
After you’ve carefully considered the points outlined above, made sure that you have support, riding lessons, and resources, you can more forward with confidence. Your gift is sure to create a memory that will last a lifetime!
The gift of a horse offers many benefits.
- The horse will represent your thoughtfulness. If you’re looking for a gift that will be cherished for years to come, a horse is the perfect choice for a devoted horse lover.
- The gift of a horse is a gift of being outdoors. A horse is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. If your loved one enjoys spending time outdoors, (or hates it and you’d like to see them outdoors more!) a horse may be the perfect addition to their life.
- A horse is a great source of exercise. If your loved one is looking to move more and feel better, a horse is a great way to help them reach their movement goals. Riding a horse is a great workout, and it’s also a lot of fun.
- A horse is a great way to connect with other people. If your son or daughter could benefit from more emotional support from friends, it’s hard to find better people than those who enjoy horses and horseback riding. A horse can be a great icebreaker and riding lessons are often recommended by therapists as a way to bond with others through a shared activity.
If you’re considering giving a horse as a Christmas gift, keep these hidden cots and these many benefits in mind. A horse isn’t an appropriate gift for every family, but for the right recipient, it’s a gift that will provide years of enjoyment and an amazing memory.