Connecting the Dots

Over the years I have created many polka dot hats for customers – big dots, little dots, black on white dots, pink on brown dots, white on navy dots, black on red dots – every combination and size that you can possibly imagine!  There’s just something about polka dots that always makes me smile.

The "Shirley" Derby Hat Design

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Perhaps my passion for polka dots is related to a puzzle I used to play as a child. Do you remember Connect the Dots? When I was a little girl I would sit for hours sprawled on the floor with my box of crayons and connect those tiny numbered dots. I was captivated, as a picture of a dog, flower, kitten, Old Mother Hubbard or a horse would begin to emerge.  I have been fond of polka dots ever since.

Connect the Dots
Connect the Dots

As fate would have it, polka dots took center stage in the creation of my February auction hat for “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” the annual six month fundraising project I created with Old Friends Equine of Kentucky to benefit their retired racehorses. This month I was creating a hat to honor a horse named Popcorn Deelites, a low-level claimer and one of the eight horses who played the part of Seabiscuit in the Oscar-nominated movie of the same name.

My original idea for the hat ended up on the cutting room floor. Afterwards, in frustration, I was cutting out circles from scrap fabric when the idea of POLKA DOTS came into my head! After all, what could be more perfect for a horse named Popcorn Deelites than a playful white-dot-on-black print? I was off and running and thrilled to be creating a hat with some real pizzazz!

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As I worked on the hat for Popcorn Deelites I recalled that in a 2001 CBS interview, Michael Blowen of Old Friends was asked why he wanted to help Thoroughbred racehorses and not some other worthy cause. He replied, “Everyone has a little spot in the world. One tiny little dot. This is my dot.” Michael’s love and respect for the horses in his care are evident in his every word and action; his dream for Dream Chase Farm as a safe haven for retired racehorses has come true.

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Michael Blowen, President of Old Friends

In 2009 when I asked Old Friends to join me in a Derby hat fundraiser to honor their retired racehorses, I understood that MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® had a dot as well. By creating and donating custom Derby hats to Old Friends I could help connect the dots by bringing the world of hat couture and racehorse aftercare together. Instead of two separate dots, our online Derby hat auction would create a connection between us – a powerful Derby hat vehicle to help Michael with his dream and at the same time spread the word about the needs of retired racehorses. Indeed, connecting the dots goes beyond coloring books.

The “Popcorn Deelites” MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® hat for Old Friends is now up for bid on EBay. And perhaps unlike any of the hats before it, this hat is a symbol to me of the kind of collaboration that is possible when two individual “dots” get connected. And just like the Connect the Dots puzzle of my childhood, I am captivated as I watch the picture unfold as MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends come together each year for this fundraiser with a common goal of caring for the horses we know and love. The polka dots remind me that even hard work can be fun – if we reach out and connect the dots in life together.

Please enjoy this slideshow of the “Popcorn Deelites” chapeau now on EBay! And a special thank you to Rick Capone for his wonderful images of Popcorn Deelites!

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A Derby Hat for Barbaro

My love for horses began when I was a little girl. I watched every horse race that was televised as well as any movies about horses. I had friends who had horses and visited them every chance I got. But it was the story of Black Beauty that made a real impact on my life. Told from the horse’s perspective, the story made me aware of the living situations of horses and our responsibility for taking care of these wondrous creatures who possess not only individual personalities but also spirit, emotion and memory.

Growing up I watched the Derby every year on television and in 1969 Majestic Prince was the first horse I ever witnessed attempting to win the coveted Triple Crown. Just a few years later I watched Secretariat make Triple Crown history (1973) and like so many I was captivated with him. However, it was following Ruffian’s tragic 1975 breakdown in her match race with Foolish Pleasure that I temporarily turned away from horse racing, heartsick about the harsh reality that not all racehorses’ lives have happy endings.

Then came Barbaro.

Barbaro, post parade at the 2006 Preakness - Photo by Lydia A. Williams
Barbaro photo by Lydia A. Williams

The undefeated bay son of Dynaformer and La Ville Rouge, Barbaro soared to the finish at the 2006 Kentucky Derby and made many of us believe that Triple Crown history was about to be made again. After the race, his jockey Edgar Prado spoke of how “dreams come true” and analyst Gary Stevens used the word “superstar.”  Owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson and trainer Michael Matz knew they had something once-in-a-lifetime in Barbaro.

Barbaro at Fair Hill - Photo by Lydia A. Williams
Barbaro at Fair Hill, photo by Lydia A. Williams

It was just two weeks later at the Preakness that Barbaro’s tragic breakdown occurred. In the following weeks and months, I watched like many others for news of Barbaro’s courageous battle for survival at the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Barbaro endured nearly a dozen surgeries and lived in and out of a sling to treat the laminitis. His veterinarian Dr. Dean Richardson said that Barbaro knew they were all working to save him and ensure him a good quality of life. Still, in the end all of the best efforts weren’t enough; on the morning of January 29, 2007, Barbaro’s condition took a bad turn and he was humanely euthanized with those who loved him by his side.

Following his death, I felt compelled as an artist and a horse lover to create something to honor this amazing equine athlete whose life had so deeply touched me. In a surge of creative inspiration, I took bolts of deep reddish-brown dupioni silk and black satin and fashioned a hat foundation to reflect Barbaro’s bay coat and dark mane and tail.

The "Barbaro" Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
The “Barbaro” Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

I used chiffon for the red Derby roses; eight to reflect Barbaro’s post position in the Derby. Black chiffon was used for the sash and long blunt cut tails; a mixture of green shantung and metallic taffeta were used to fashion the leaves. The hat was stitched together with a lot of love and more than a few tears.

The "Barbaro" Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
The “Barbaro” Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

And that was just the beginning. Barbaro’s courageous spirit ignited a fire within me to promote horse welfare. As a first step I created a new webpage at maggiemae.com called “Hats and Horses: A Lifelong Love Affair” to showcase various horse welfare organizations around the country. In 2008, I teamed up with Thoroughbred Charities of America and Foxwoods Resort Casino of Connecticut for a Derby Day fundraiser for the Eight Belles Memorial Fund, to create and donate a very special one of a kind hat in celebration of Eight Belles for the event’s auction. Between 2009 and 2011, I created Derby hats to honor Rachel Alexandra, Secretariat and Majestic Prince for the Kentucky Derby Museum’s Annual Hat Contest Exhibit.

"A Dozen Roses for Rachel" Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
“A Dozen Roses for Rachel” Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

Then, in the fall of 2009, I created the concept of “Hats Off to he Horses: The Road to the Derby”, an annual fundraising project that would target one Thoroughbred retirement facility to raise funds for their retirees and help to educate the public about the specific needs of retired racehorses. I contacted Alex Brown of Alex Brown Racing to get his recommendation for a retirement facility. Alex suggested Michael Blowen at Old Friends in Kentucky. Michael’s dream for a retirement haven for retired racehorses was coming true and I was thrilled when he agreed to join me for the inaugural year of the project which has now become an annual event with them that has raised over $15,000 for their facility.

The "Rapid Redux" Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
The “Rapid Redux” Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

In May of 2006 Barbaro captured the hearts of a nation when he won the Kentucky Derby; when he died, he moved a nation to act. Barboro’s story captivated people, many of whom had never known much about racehorses. As a result of his catastrophic racing injury and subsequent death, steps were taken and continue to be taken to help racehorses have a better quality of life, including funding laminitis research and dealing with the issues of track safety and illegal doping. This to me is his greatest legacy.

The Barbaro Memorial Scultpure-Alexa King

When people ask me how I got started supporting the retired racehorses I
simply tell them, It all began with Barbaro. What started with one hat created to honor a racing champion has become a life’s work devoted to helping horses. And on this day, the anniversary of Barbaro’s death, I am proud to say that I’ll continue to support the horses, one hat at a time, thanks to him.

Please enjoy this special slideshow of the “Barbaro” Derby hat design. Special thanks to Lydia A. Williams for generously sharing her images of Barbaro with us. Please visit Lydia’s website to see more of her work.

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Please note: the original “Barbaro” hat design is not for sale.

And if you would like to view the Derby hats that have been created for our four years of the “Hats Off to the Horses” auctions for Old Friends, please visit the Old Friends Hat Auction Portfolio webpage!

The Joy of Hats

In my career as a custom milliner of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®, I have found that anyone can wear a hat. I think it’s all about each person finding the courage to explore the world of hats, find which styles suit them best, and in the process discover that the joy of hat-wearing is even more fun when it is shared.

Brenda and Kevin at the 2009 Kentucky Derby
Brenda in her “Liza” Derby Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

Not so long ago women would rarely be seen in public without a hat and gloves. But in recent years that has all changed. Whatever the reason, the thought of wearing a hat today makes many women feel intimidated.

Still, it doesn’t take much to ignite a new fashion trend. Kate Middleton’s fascinators have inspired many American women to start wearing hats, often for the first time. And who can forget the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in that stunning rhinestone-and-bow-trimmed gray felt cloche at the 2009 Inauguration ceremony singing, “America the Beautiful” and single-handedly catapulting South Korean-born hat maker Luke Song’s millinery career? A recent resurgence for all things Retro has also renewed a new interest in hats as has the television series, Downton Abbey. Hats are back!

Doris and Custom Elizabeth Fascinator
Doris wearing her Custom “Elizabeth” Fascinator by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

There is something about hats that connects people. Hats have a way of starting conversations between strangers. Before they know it, they are sharing family hat stories about Aunt Clara’s old floppy garden hat and Cousin Sylvie’s penchant for scandalous red cocktail hats. There’s just something about a hat that makes you feel like you already know the person who’s wearing it. Or, would like to.

Juliette HOLMM54-021 Cocktail Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®
Juliette HOLMM54-021 Cocktail Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

But it still takes a certain amount of courage to actually wear a hat if you never have worn one before. My suggestion is to take small steps. Don’t go for the 2-foot wide Derby hat right away. Instead try wearing a baseball cap, a beret, or a cowboy hat. Visit a thrift shop or a department store. Try on hats in different shapes and colors to find out what looks best on you and what feels comfortable. Once you are feeling a bit braver, start actively seeking out special occasions where hats are encouraged – the Kentucky Derby, weddings, garden parties – or throw a hat tea party of your own. Chances are you’ll find other women there who are equally new at hat-wearing and looking for a friend – and for the details on that fabulous wide brimmed chapeau you’re wearing!

Lovely ladies in their MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® chapeaux!
Lovely ladies in their MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® chapeaux!

If you are one of those women who has always believed you don’t look good in hats, don’t be discouraged. It may just be that you’ve never found the right hat for you. But once you start looking you may just find yourself having so much fun that you’ll wonder what took you so long. And your newly discovered passion may just inspire others to start exploring the joy of hats too!

Melissa and the "Valerie" Derby Hat
Melissa and her “Valerie” Derby Hat by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®

For some great ideas for where to try out your new chapeaux, please check out my Where to Wear a Hat page at maggiemae.com.

Do you wear hats? Or are you new to the world of hats? Please write and let me know how your hat exploring is going!

On Derby Day, It’s All About the Hat

Every Derby season people ask me, Which comes first, the hat or the dress? As a custom milliner that specializes in fancy Derby chapeaux my response to this chicken-or-the-egg question has always been the same. On Derby Day, it’s all about the hat.

Creating a Derby day outfit is like preparing a delicious feast for some grand celebration. The hat is the main course; the dress, shoes and purse are the side dishes that complement it.

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The "Michaela" Derby Chapeau
The “Michaela” Derby Chapeau

If you prefer to find your Derby hat first, you may discover that the dress, the shoes and the purse will be easier to find because you have already established the main course. However, if you feel more comfortable first looking for your dress, the guiding principle is still the same, On Derby Day, it’s all about the hat. Even as you shop for a great Derby dress, never let the concept of the hat out of your mind. Keep visualizing the hat as the main course in your grand feast.

The "Vivy" Derby Chapeau
The “Vivy” Derby Chapeau

Here at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® there are no hard-and-fast rules as to which comes first. I personally welcome both the hat-first and the dress-first Derby shopper as each offers the possibility of a very different millinery adventure. The beauty of a custom millinery like mine is that I can create an existing hat from my online Derby Hat Collection or, I can create a unique one-of-a-kind hat in a style, color and fabric to match an outfit. In fact some of my most memorable Derby hat adventures have occurred when customers have come to me with everything but the hat. Together, we created a chapeau that transformed the elements of their outfit into a cohesive whole with the hat as the central theme.

The "Liza" Derby Chapeau
The “Liza” Derby Chapeau

Whether you begin your Derby attire search with the hat or the dress, there is one very important suggestion I would make: Get started early. You will save yourself much heartache and expense if you start planning and shopping ahead. Derby hats can take between 4-7 weeks to create and then ship; even longer if they are custom or if materials need to be special ordered. And the rush charges that need to be applied as it gets closer to Derby Day start adding up quickly.

The "Shirley" Derby Hat Design
The “Shirley” Derby Hat Design

My suggestion is to start your pursuit of your Derby hat now. Then, on Derby Day, you will be ready to enjoy the 140 year-old American tradition of horse racing, hot brown sandwiches, mint juleps and gorgeous hats. Just remember that on Derby day it’s all about you and your hat; you are the master chef, the creator of your feast with your pièce de résistance chapeau carefully chosen and fit for a queen. Plan well, and savor the experience!

Please enjoy these images of some of my lovely Derby ladies from previous years in their Derby hat splendor. For more photos please visit my Photo Gallery at www.maggiemae.com. To view the 2014 Kentucky Derby hats available at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® please visit the Derby Hat Collection and browse all four Derby hat salons for a wide variety of delightful hat styles from which to choose!

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The Business Is Personal

At MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® I personally design and create ladies’ fancy dress hats for the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, weddings, garden parties and tea parties all over the world. To me the business is personal; I encourage customers to think of me as their personal milliner, ready to assist them in their search for the perfect chapeau.

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The process begins with me asking a lot of questions. What is the occasion? Is there is an outfit that needs to be matched? How comfortable are they wearing a hat? We exchange swatches, photos and ideas by as we get to know one another and gradually the perfect hat design for them emerges from the process.

Last August, Robin Stater contacted me about designing a hat for her fall wedding.  She described herself and her sweetheart Philip Hertzog as “two independent souls,” which was reflected in the creative choice of an Old West setting for their wedding at the Law Railroad Museum in Bishop, CA.  The suggested attire for guests was “Old West and Victorian/Gothic”.  To add to the fun would be Robin’s grand entrance riding her gorgeous Tobiano paint horse, Major Proof, alongside her friend Janet Titus, her natural horsemanship horse trainer, and Janet’s husband, Dave. All that was missing was the perfect chapeau to make her wedding dream complete.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

From the very beginning Robin’s vision for the hat was clear: she loved my classic “Billie” mini top hat fascinator but wanted to customize it a bit to match her beautiful gown, a black and white embroidered organza confection with a hint of lime green and fuchsia accent. We got to work, starting with a photo of the dress. Robin decided on ivory silk for the top hat base. Her idea for a “chalkboard” (washed out black) tone for the trim was achieved using charcoal organza to fashion the leaves that framed the rose curl centerpiece. As we worked on the design together Robin used descriptions like “Victorian”, “elegant”, “Gothic”, “funky” which gave me the ideas for what she wanted. Fabric swatches were exchanged and Robin special ordered a silver metallic veiling she’d found online. I chose a soft ivory silk for the top hat foundation, ivory silk organza for the rose curl, sparkling rhinestone buttons and fancy braiding; Robin’s perfect choice of the silver veiling did indeed help pull it all together.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

On October 6, 2012, “Robin’s Billie” chapeau made her grand debut as Robin arrived for the wedding ceremony astride her beautiful paint horse. The vision took everyone’s breath away. Wedding guests told Robin that the hat was absolutely perfect; they were amazed that we were able to create such a perfect and magical hat even though we lived so far apart.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

As collaborative artists, my customers and I create hats that are one of a kind and perfectly suited to their needs and sense of style. The physical distance disappears as we connect, share and create magical custom chapeaux together. Like my hats, I have designed my business to be unique; a true custom millinery that encourages one to think outside the box.  And because each hat is created individually and sized to fit, their MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® chapeau feels like it was made “just for them” – because it was!

And I think my customers would agree with me when I say, the business just has to be personal.

Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by Susan H. Morning of SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY

A very special thank you to Robin Stater and Susan Morning (SUSAN MORNING PHOTOGRAPHY) for allowing me to share these wonderful images of Robin’s special wedding day with you!

Thunder Rumbles Into the New Year

This year, my New Year’s inspiration came from a horse. A horse named Thunder Rumble.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

He lives at Old Friends’ satellite farm in New York called Old Friends at Cabin Creek; home to 14 Thoroughbred retirees under the loving care of JoAnn Pepper and her husband, Mark. JoAnn describes Thunder Rumble as her dream horse, her own “Black Stallion”, a 24-year-old nearly black Thoroughbred who stands a stunning 17 hands high.

This is the horse Old Friends and I chose to honor in January’s auction fundraiser, “Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby.” This unique annual auction series is a six month event leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Each month, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® creates and donates a one-of-a-kind Derby hat to honor one of Old Friends’ retirees.

Of all the horses I could have selected for the January auction which begins the New Year, Thunder Rumble was the perfect choice. Even his name conjures up the sound of distant thunder and that tingling feeling of anticipation you get when you know that a storm is coming.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

Thunder Rumble’s path was not the usual one toward greatness. He wasn’t the easiest horse to handle. And he missed the entire 1992 Triple Crown series due to a virus. Then when he won the Jim Dandy Stakes against a stellar field at Saratoga in early August of that same year, many thought it was a fluke. But when he came back in just three weeks and won the Travers Stakes he showed them all what a great champion he really was.

JoAnn says that even at 24 years old, Thunder Rumble still trumpets his presence loudly wherever he goes. He and his buddy, fellow Travers Stakes winner, Will’s Way, are often seen racing one another in their adjacent paddocks.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

Like some mighty black steam engine, Thunder Rumble reminds me that I need to continually keep my passion in front of me and pursue it with everything I’ve got. Earlier this year, I clearly heard my own thunder rumbling as I tried to figure out what was my next path; in recent years I’d found a way to blend my passion for hats and horses by creating and donating Derby hats to raise funds for retired racehorses around the country. But a little voice inside kept whispering to do more.

After brushing it aside for months, I finally listened, joining Facebook in the Spring and later, starting this blog. I am now making new connections for my business and opening new doors for helping more horses in the future. What I learned through the experience is that it is the passion, like the thundering rumble within a horse that makes it run, that allows us to overcome the fear about trying new things and keeps us moving forward.

And in a pasture in Greenfield, New York a great senior stallion named Thunder Rumble still challenges his pasture mates to race him – and he wins; he wins because he believes he can. He has inspired me this New Year’s Day to keep listening for my own thunder rumble, to keep my passion front and center and to live with the anticipation that something’s coming. Something worth waiting for and working towards, heart and soul.

Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography
Thunder Rumble photo by Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography

I invite you to enjoy the images below of the “Thunder Rumble” chapeau up for bid starting January 1st through the 11th. And please share a Comment below on this blog page. Let me know what New Year’s Day means to you. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? And please be sure to sign up for email notifications of coming blog entries.

Happy New Year, everyone!
Sally

The "Thunder Rumble" Hat

Thunder Rumble Hat

To see more images of the “Thunder Rumble” chapeau and read all about the auction, please visit The Thunder Rumble Derby Hat Auction at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®.

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.