It's that time of year again: The weather's getting colder, the horses are getting fuzzy, and the holidays are right around the corner. And, here in America, first on the season's list of celebrations is Thanksgiving.

I grew up in central Massachusetts where--likely given our close proximity to Plimouth Plantation; Plymouth Rock; and nearly everything else commonly associated with the pilgrims, Wampanoag tribe, and the "first Thanksgiving"--I learned (what felt like) everything there is to know about the holiday. The English settlers in Massachusetts held a celebration in October 1621--now considered the first Thanksgiving--to give thanks to their God and the Native Americans that had helped them survive, and to celebrate that year's good harvest.

It's not hard to lose sight of the reason behind the first Thanksgiving festival with all the hustle and bustle of cooking the perfect turkey and planning family get-togethers, watching token holiday parades and football games, and planning out Black Friday shopping routes and Cyber Monday purchases. So before I, too, get caught up in the holiday festivities, I'm taking a few moments to consider what I'm most thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I'm thankful that my horses, family, and friends are in good health entering this holiday season. And I'm thankful for my parents, who provide a home for our family's senior horses (and two not-so-senior horses) where they can live out their days happily, comfortably, and healthily.

I'm thankful my job that allows me to learn, straight from the sources, how to best keep our senior horses going as they enter their golden years, and I'm thankful that I can pass that information on to other interested horse owners.

Fuzzy old horses in snow

Despite the fact she has Cushing's disease, Brandy still loves to jump the moon...and keep the full-size horses in line!
Photo by Keith Larson

I'm thankful for all the people that develop equine medications that allow horses affected by a wide variety of diseases and disorders to live good, comfortable lives. In particular, I'm thankful for pergolide (and one of our wonderful veterinarians in Michigan who prescribed it!) which keeps Brandy--our 23-year-old Miniature Horse who suffers from equine Cushing's disease and a jumper in her younger days--feeling good enough both to jump the moon when she's not busy keeping the full-size horses in line.

I'm thankful for the owners of my boarding barn here in Lexington and all the lovely individuals who work there and care impeccably for Dorado (and deal with me with a smile when I get mildly neurotic about things from time to time!).

I'm thankful for my veterinarian here in Kentucky who treats my 16-year-old rescued OTTB no differently than he treats his equine patients that are worth millions of dollars. I'm also thankful he was able to discover a potentially career-limiting injury Dorado sustained in his days as a racehorse, and then help me rehabilitate him to the point where he feels better now than he did when we arrived in the Bluegrass.

On that same note, I'm thankful for my farrier for his repeated trips to the barn to tack on lost shoes, painstaking care in applying glue-on shoes and pour-in fill (and then reapply one when Dorado so kindly removed it while cross-country schooling), explanations on why he opted for certain shoeing and trimming tactics opposed to others, and willingly working with said veterinarian to ensure nothing would hinder Dorado's recovery.


Jessie got the nickname "Frankenpony" shortly after she got her stitches (left), but the wound has healed beautifully thanks to her veterinarian's handiwork.
Photo by Keith Larson

I'm (incredibly) thankfully that our 25-year-old Appaloosa mare Jessie wasn't seriously injured when a large piece of falling debris caused a massive gash in her forehead and dented her skull. I'm also (incredibly) thankful for our other veterinarian in Michigan for carefully placing more than 50 sutures in several layers to close the wound, helping it heal to the point it's no longer evident there was ever even a scratch there.

And finally, I'm thankful for all of the horses I've worked with, ridden, cared for, or known for shaping me into the well-rounded horsewoman I consider myself today. Each one of them taught me something--from how not to jump up their necks when approaching a fence if I wanted to live, to how to be strong, keep rubbing their foreheads, and say good-bye as the veterinarian pushes the plunger--that I value deeply and will always take with me.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Share your responses below!

I hope you and all those special to you--both two- and four-legged!--have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!