Dig That Crazy Christmas Special

Many years ago I swore I would never perform in a horse show again. Too much pressure, no fun.

Never say never.

Mystic and I took part in the Cooler Horsemanship Christmas Special on December 20. It wasn’t really a show—more a gathering of people who love natural horsemanship and want to demonstrate what we’ve learned. It was all fun and no pressure. Everybody pitched in, festooning Fiore Farms with garlands, velvet ribbons, and Christmas lights. Boarders brought giant plates of cookies and cakes, and a crock pot of hot mulled cider steamed in the corner of the tack lounge.

Santa Claus came too and visited with Mystic before the show. I believe Mystic told him, “All I want for Christmas is to get rid of these girly decorations.”

Santa, Mystic, and a small admirer

Family and friends turned out to watch, cheering on our small triumphs and spangled horses.  Highlights included Elizabeth, dressed as “Mother Ginger,” sprinkling fairy dust while “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” played.

Elizabeth, Sonder, and a spray of fairy dust

Jane and Ben and Mystic and I did ground play to the tune of “Redbird,” a foot-tapping string band number that seemed in my mind to go on forever. How come in rehearsals everything had gone so much more smoothly?

Jane and Ben

Mystic and me

The Bednar girls sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while performing with their little buckskin quarter horse, Oberon.

Jeannette, Emma, and Oberon

Thirteen-year-old Amanda, who chose to keep her young horse, Zip, dignifiedly decoration-free, performed a relaxed rendition of “Linus and Lucy.”

Amanda and Zip

James and Indigo did freedom play to the tune of “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus.” James deserved the good sport award for wearing an elf costume that would have emasculated anyone else but somehow looked charming on him.

Indigo and Elf James

Kleo and Kate showed off their dressage moves to “The Carol of the Bells” by George Winston. It’s hard to say who looked more gorgeous, horse or rider. Kleo wore tinsel leg wraps that made her look like a Dallas Cowgirl; as she stood on the pedestal and caught sight of her own feet, she snorted with fear, no doubt thinking, What the heck are those shiny things?

Kate and Kleo

Afterward we gathered and ate and hugged and congratulated each other. Everybody’s face was shining, and our horses looked pretty proud of themselves too.

I’m already looking forward to next year. Consider this your invitation to the second annual Cooler Horsemanship Christmas Special.

Many thanks to Margaret Bednar for supplying photographs of the Christmas special. See more of Margaret’s photos and read about her own adventures with natural horsemanship at her blog, Just Horses.

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What’s Inside Your Dreams?

Another birthday with no pony

When I was a little girl, every birthday morning I woke up hoping to find a mysterious string on the floor beside my bed. I imagined picking up the end of the string and following it out of my bedroom, down the stairs, through the yard, and into the garage, where I’d find a pony waiting for me. A pony, just for me.

For years I sustained that fantasy, drawn from the plot of one of my horse books. It was fiction, of course, but—against all odds—I believed the string-leading-to-pony thing could happen to me.

Three weeks ago, on 11/11/11—an auspicious date if ever there was one—I got my pony. Except he’s not a pony—he’s a 15-hand, 16-year-old white horse with a silvery gray mane and tail.

For those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the long haul, you’ve probably guessed: I am now the proud caretaker of Mystic. “Owner” is another word for it, but that sounds a bit chattel-like for my tastes.

I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

Mystic the dream horse

My relationship with Mystic feels much the same, yet subtly different. I get to call him “my” horse now. I no longer have to worry that someone else will lease or buy him. I’m responsible for his care and well-being, in sickness and in health. Our relationship is as official as it can be, short of a justice of the peace.

After surviving a long, not particularly happy 16-year-marriage, I swore I’d never re-up for a lifetime commitment. And yet here I am, committing—committed!—without qualms.

Maybe it’s because this feels like an equal relationship, one of give-and-take and trust. Maybe it’s because I get back from Mystic far more than I give.

True partnership

In a way, my new caretaker status hasn’t sunk in yet. I dreamed as a child of having a white horse of my own. I put that dream away for years, forgetting it even existed.  Now I feed my dream carrots and curry comb the dust out of his fuzzy coat.

The fact that my dream came true so unexpectedly reminds me of a favorite quote from Gloria Steinem: “If what’s inside your dreams wasn’t already real inside you, you couldn’t even dream it.”

In other words, our dreams aren’t a cruel joke. They’re inside us because they’re meant to come true.

So keep dreaming, and I will too.