Getting Pinned

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So, what cool horse-related gift did you get for Christmas (not counting an actual horse, trailer or towing vehicle)? Or, rather, what weird totally inappropriate horse-related gift did you get?

These pins from the 2008 Olympics in China apparently never made it to Hong Kong where the equestrian events were held but were found for me recently in Beijing.

These pins from the 2008 Olympics in China apparently never made it to Hong Kong where the equestrian events were held but were found for me recently in Beijing.

Most of us will inwardly cringe a bit when opening a gift from a civilian source that doesn’t know us all that well. I’m thinking well-meaning new mother-in-law here, maybe, or sibling in another state that you haven’t seen in a couple years. Inevitably it will be something lovely but western-themed if you ride English, gaited saddlebred-themed if you jump, or it might even be a cute pony supporting a toilet paper roll by its mouth.

My husband knows better than to buy me horsey gifts without close consultation with my friends and trainer, unless it’s serviceable clothing from the tack shop. (He did give me a new tail coat one year that fit perfectly – talk about a home run!) I would never presume to buy him anything for his model train layout after a couple missteps in the past.

Obviously, I’m asking the above question because I got a fabulous horse-related gift this Christmas from a wildly unexpected source. My husband had a wonder administrative assistant, Angie Grabill Long, back in the ‘80s when he was sports editor of “USA Today.” Angie was recently on a business trip to China after which she was due to visit us in our NC mountain home. She had to cancel the visit but sent along some goodies she’d picked up in China as Christmas gifts with the promise that she’d follow up soon with the visit.

I was flabbergasted when I opened up my gift from Angie to find a triptych of dressage pins from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As you recall, the equestrian events at that Olympics were held in Hong Kong, and that was where I covered them for the Associated Press. Everyone at the Hong Kong events searched high and low for Olympic equestrian pins, shirts, hats, etc. but there just weren’t any – the only goods were general China Olympics stuff. We concluded that maybe the organizers simply hadn’t made any equestrian options.

Well, it looks now like they did but kept the horsey stuff in Beijing. Angie, well aware of the obsession journalists have with Olympic pins, must have stumbled across the mother lode of unsold equestrian pins – unsold because the people who would have wanted them were 1,000 miles away at the crucial time. Thanks to her, I finally have a complete set of pins from each of the seven Olympics I covered, since the only one I was missing was China.

My only question now is what to do with them. I’m not planning to go to any more Olympics, where the ribbon holding my pass would be adorned with pins from each of the Games where I’d worked. Do I frame them all together now? Do I swap them out in rotation on my coats? At this moment, the collar of my favorite quilted jacket holds the official equestrian pin from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angles, with Sam the Eagle riding a dressage horse, right next to the lovely old golden AHSA pin with Pegasus.

I do love my pins. Thanks Angie!!

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