A Horse for Christmas

It felt especially important to make it to the annual Christmas Stroll this year in our little town on Cape Cod. It had been a tough year for a lot of small businesses like ours and we needed a bit of Christmas magic to lighten our hearts. I personally needed to see the horses at the stroll; all year long I’d been waiting to see the black Percheron horses who pull the Christmas wagon every year.

As a little girl, horses were an all-consuming passion.Blog-HorseStatue1 Even long after I’d realized there would be no horse of my own from my parents, each Christmas I still asked for horse books, horse statues, rocking horse toys and stuffed horses-anything to do with horses that would allow me to feel closer to them and a part of their world. Horses possess a special magic little girls know so well.

In recent years through my hat business, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®, I’d found a way to blend my love for hats and horses by creating one-of-a-kind Derby auction hats to raise funds for retired racehorses around the country at farms like Old Friends. CreatorHat1-Web.Lg
It had all come about so naturally, and in creating these hats I felt such an amazing reconnection to horses as I fashioned a special hat to honor each one. Coming to the stroll this year seemed even more important than ever somehow. I needed to see that team of draft horses and allow myself to feel inspired by being in the presence of a real horse.

Once at the stroll I heard the horses even before I saw them as they came up the street pulling the wagon with the sound of the jingle bells Blog-Stroll2on their harnesses and the clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop of their shoes. Suddenly there they were in front of me, Jake and Dan, two perfectly matched black Percherons, aglow under the street lights, their breath like steam engines against the cold night air, decked out in full harness. To this little girl, they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. The driver beckoned my husband Tom and me to get on board for a ride; it was magical as we passed all the shops and saw the great lighted Christmas tree in the town square.

Once we got off the wagon, we stood watching the horses, with Jake and Dan snorting in the frosty air as the next passengers boarded. As they pulled away, we joined the Stroll, popping in and out of little shops, enjoying hot buttered popcorn and greeting friends and strangers with “Merry Christmas.”

One of our stops was a little antique/gift shop. The smell of candles, old wood and mulled cider greeted us as we stepped inside and looked around. Suddenly, there in a corner all by itself, we spied a golden horse with a dark chocolate saddle and bridle. BLOG-PrancerHorse1It was one of those child’s toy rocking horses on springs, just like the ones I used to ask for every year but never found underneath the tree come Christmas morning.

“Would you like it?” Tom asked with a big grin. The little girl inside me screamed, “YES!” but the practical adult responded, “How much do you think it is?” We checked and it was a bargain. Looking into the horse’s big brown eyes I could see that he was a magical Christmas horse and needed to come home with us.

Tom went to pay for our treasure and I overheard him telling the clerk so proudly, “I bought my wife a HORSE for Christmas. She’s always wanted one of her own!” I just smiled, and remembered why I loved him. I now had a horse of my own, and he was coming home with me.

Our car was parked a few blocks from the shop and we must have been quite a sight as we carried the rocking horse along Main Street, one of us in front and one in back. As we walked I decided that we’d call him “Prancer,” after the golden-colored reindeer from the movie of the same name, in celebration of the little girl in the movie who believed it was one of Santa’s own.BLOG-PrancerHorse3

And it was right at that moment that I realized a little something about my passion for horses. Maybe there isn’t just one way to “have” a horse, to play a part in their care and to let them into our lives. Those who are fortunate can indeed own a horse. But any of us can volunteer at a local rescue or buy one of their calendars to help them raise money. Or post and share the available auction horses from places like Camelot Horse Weekly on their Facebook page to help the horses find forever homes.

For me it is creating and donating Derby auction hats six months out of the year to support retired racehorses and, this year, letting someone buy me a magical rocking horse on springs for Christmas. It helped make a little girl’s dream for a horse come true.

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Author: hatsandhorses

Sally Faith Steinmann is the owner and designer of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS Custom Millinery. A native of Cape Cod, Sally creates couture hats for the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, Saratoga, weddings, teas, and garden parties. MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS sponsors "Hats Off to the Horses", an annual online Derby hat fundraiser for the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility in KY.

26 thoughts on “A Horse for Christmas”

  1. Your story was wonderful ! It brought back a flood of memories of my childhood .
    I understand that want for a horse it never goes away. I still eat sleep dream of owning my own.There are time,s I feel like a fool ,I have been called crazy or off my rocker .Maybe I am, but it is my choice my heart that feels the breath of a horse as you ride ! I still close my eyes and can feel there body the way it moves ,the wind in my hair my trust in the wonderful beast . I have felt such love from horse ,I thank God for this gift because it has brought me through so much !!!!!!!!
    Horse,s need more love and understanding then they get .just a big puppy thats all .

    1. Thank you for your wonderful response, Linda. And you are so right, that deep lov for the horses never ever goes away. And I think we all try to be close to horses in whatever ways that we can!

  2. Absolutely charming, Sal! Tender, heart-warming, oh so YOU!! Words lovely, horses lovely, hats lovely. You exhibit your multi-talented artistry, passion, and generosity throughout your new blog. I like your stories and the suggestions for “owning” a horse without actually “having” the horse – to volunteer at a rescue, to purchase items for fund-raising, to help auction horses find forever homes. LOVE IT!!!! I’m am signed up, my dear, and will follow your blog excitedly!!!! (Enjoy your new, very special gift from Tom – so sweet, as we know he is.) xoxo

    1. Oh SUNNY… Thank you for taking a peek at my new blog. How wonderful to find you here this morning and with such kind and thoughtful response to my Christmas horse story. You know my heart when it comes to the horses, and little by little, as an adult-with-a-little-girl’s-horse-heart I am coming to terms with how I can still feel close to horses even if I never have one of my own. And someday I my, but for now it really is helping to write about it, share it, and let it all unfold as it will. And thank you for signing up, too, I am already excited about the next blog post, I’ll probably try for one a week if I can. In between HATS, of course! Sunny, as always you’ve made my day! xoxoxoxo

    1. Yes indeed, a new blog and I am looking forward to it this New Year, Dawn! Thank you for your kind words, I’m looking forward to the next blog post already, thank you always for your wonderful support! 🙂

  3. What a wonderful story this is! It brought tears to my eyes! I know that feeling of wanting a horse so bad it hurts. I felt the same way when I was young, until my parents took mercy on my soul and got me one for my 12th birthday. I used to cry, begg, and grovel for one. My whole body hurt and was missing a very important part of who I was until I got my very first little QH named Lucy. She was a beauty! She raised me well! 🙂 What a sweet husband you have. I love what he said to the check out lady. Awwww! I love your beautiful hats, and what a wonderful thing that you do to give back to your love of the horse. Very, very nice Sally! So happy that our paths have crossed.

    1. Oh Amy, your response brings tears now to MY eyes! And Lucy… I love that name, and what a special first horse she must have been. I hope that through the blog I can keep sharing the passion that I have for the hats and the horses. There are so many of us who love the horses, and I hope that my hats can help spread the word even a little bit about how much so many horses need our help. I am happy too that our paths have crossed, Amy, and thank you again for all your support… 🙂

  4. My Lucy was meaner than a snake, but knew her stuff. I was also meaner than a snake. She was tender when I needed it, and put me in my place when the time called for it too. Perfect match! 😉

  5. Aren’t they something, Amy? Horses, and so many other animals, just seem to sense things that go way beyond words. It’s one of the reasons I am so thrilled that people are realizing more and more how healing horses can be in the therapy arena now, too… With some amazing results!

  6. Aww!! What do I think? I love it!! You’ve taken me along on a little enchanted evening stroll, down memory lane in many ways and much of this is still true for me too! Your blog is lovely as well as the beautiful and fancy hats that you make. The fact that you share your lovely hat craft to help horses shows your true love for them! You’re an inspiration and now that you have this blog too… even more so! Thank you!

    1. I am so glad that you love the blog! Thank you for all your kind words about the hats – I am hoping that in the coming year they can indeed be used once again to help these amazing horses who deserve all that we can give them. I am already looking forward to the next blog post, I hope you’ll visit again! 🙂

  7. I wish you were closer – I am lucky enough to have 4 beauties, and love to share them with others…..It takes a village to raise a horse, they can never be loved too much!

    1. I wish we lived closer too! You are so wonderful to have 4 sweet babes, and to share them with others too is such a gift… And I so agree, these precious Ones can never ever be loved too much! Thank you so much for your response, it has made my New Year’s Eve! 🙂

    1. Aw Sherry, THANK you… you are so kind. I am so glad you enjoyed the story, the photos, and I wish you the very best Happy New Year! Be well this New Year, and thank you for YOUR gifts as you share the horses with us all through your wondrous eye… 🙂

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