Give Thanks and Give Back to Horses and Humans for Thanksgiving

Here we are now in that time of year when we traditionally reflect on our blessings with family and friends and all that we have for which we are grateful. Here is my little contribution for this season.

horse running at sunset

Thanks for our Riding Instructors and Mentors

If you ever had an awesome riding instructor or trainer, who gave you the confidence to soar when you thought you couldn’t even get off the ground... then give thanks and let them know how much they have meant in your life. Even if it is someone you haven’t seen in years or spoken to for while. Call them up, e-mail them and let them know. If this person is no longer with us, contact their family and let them you’re thankful.

I recently got back in touch with some people who were a big part of my early riding career. We had been out of touch since I moved to Florida in 1988. I took a chance and called their number back in New York. I was afraid to do so for fear of not being remembered out of all the many riding students they had. Guess what? I was wrong!

They remembered and we’ve been in touch ever since. I got back one of the best pieces of my childhood because I picked up the phone. So to John and Gary Nicoletta of Pegasus Farm, I say thank you in memory of your Dad, Victor Nicoletta (my first riding teacher). His riding knowledge and patience as a riding instructor set a very high bar for all the instructors who came after him.

riding instructor in ireland

Volunteer and Give Back

If you can’t get back in touch with the ones who inspired you, as perhaps they are no longer with us or you don’t know how to get in touch with them, then you can do something else… give back!

You can do this in memory of your awesome horse riding teachers by volunteering! Perhaps you can volunteer at a local riding facility that helps riders with disabilities or special needs. Therapeutic riding organizations are always looking for volunteers to lead horses around, or “spot” their riders during lessons. They will not turn down an offer of help, as they are always in need of another set of hands and don’t always have the biggest of budgets. And who knows, maybe you can help someone else to soar!

If you ever had a special horse who added something to your life, then you can remember him or her by giving back. Perhaps it was that first pony who took such good care of you as a young rider, or maybe an older, wiser “been there, done that” kind of lesson horse who helped you learn the road of riding and took care of you along the way. You can give back in their memory, by taking care of horses that someone else threw away, the so called unwanted horses.

running horse

Maybe you are thinking about buying a horse of your own or maybe you wish you could afford to buy one. Either way, you can give back by supporting a horse rescue/ adoption facility of your choice. There are so many equine rescue organizations from which to choose that you can find virtually any breed of horse to adopt and/or support. These groups always have more horses in need than they do the funds to support them.

Anything you can offer by way of donations or sponsoring one of their rescues is greatly appreciated. Every equine rescue has a wish list of things they always need, so start with that and go from there.

If you are thinking of buying a horse for yourself, again, start with one of the many equine rescue organizations that are out there. Even if you can’t afford to buy a horse of your own, you can help save one of the many rescued horses out there by sponsoring one! Many rescues have horses in need of sponsors to help with the expense of long term care and feeding. Investigate and educate yourself. You may just be saving a life.

Thanks to the Parents and Friends who stand by Horsey Kids

If you had parents (like mine) who supported their “horse crazy” child, give thanks!

I came from a very non-horsey family and grew up in suburban Bergen County, New Jersey. My parents gave in to my plea for riding lessons and got me started. We were a regular blue collar family and with three other siblings and both my parents working. Let me tell you, riding lessons were a definite luxury for us, and one I never took lightly.

My mom would stand by ringside at every lesson faithfully. Even when I started jumping fences, despite her fears for my safely, Mom was ringside. I’m sure she said every prayer she knew while standing white knuckled during the lessons, but she never let on or discouraged me.

a young rider at upperville horse show

Mom even let me play hooky from school on one momentous day when we trooped into New York City to get my first riding outfit. My dad was a bus driver in NYC, and we got to see him on our little shopping trip. It seemed everyone on the bus everywhere we went in the City that day seemed to know my dad! I was pretty impressed and very proud of him. Dad was ever the proud father with the faithful family movie camera at the first horse show in which I ever rode.

Whether it was your parents, grandparents, or someone else you call family who helped encourage and support your pursuit of your dreams… give thanks!

If those people are no longer here, you can give back by helping out someone else that needs it. Senior centers, meal delivery and other services in your community could use your help with citizens who are shut in, alone or have no nearby family. Whether it is taking a meal to someone who cannot do for herself, helping out a neighbor who is unable to do things like yard work, etc. you can do something to give back.

Give Back After Sandy

Finally, because I am a “Jersey girl” and lived within 20 minutes of New York City, I cannot go without mentioning the thousands of folks impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Generally within the first few months to a year of a disaster like this, there will be a groundswell of support for organizations and people who are in the area. However, these folks are going to need help for a long time before this area recovers from this disaster. We’re talking years here, not months. So, although not all of you may live in this area, you can give thanks that it wasn’t your area, this time, but you can also give back by continuing to help the communities that were hardest hit.

Organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and more will continue to need funds to keep helping these residents. Local animal shelters in these areas will need donations to keep up with the four legged family members who were lost or displaced by this storm. If you have relatives or friends in these areas, contact them and ask what they need and how you can help.

If you are reading this article, give thanks, because you are fortunate enough to have computer access, power for that computer and a roof over your head to access it.

Of the many “things” we have to be thankful for, most are not “things” at all, but people, creatures great and small, and experiences that shape just who we are and what we hope to become. I hope this gets you started on your own list of thankfulness.


About the Author: Karen Prell, aka "Triple Crown Karen," came from a very non horsey, working class New Jersey family and started riding at age three. With over thirty years experience as a riding instructor, Karen is passionate about developing beginners into confident riders and compassionate horse owners. A favorite expresion heard often by her students is "It's ALL about the horse!" A lover of all things "horse," she is especially passionate about promoting the retraining of retired Thoroughbreds and adoption and rehoming of unwanted horses. Her ultimate dream would be to see the US Equestrian Team mounted on these great reclaimed athletes. Her career in media focuses on the everyday equestrian adventure and how a horse lover of modest means CAN make a difference for even ONE horse.