Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Traditions, Equine Style

by Mary Paine

Happy Holidays!

A nice side benefit of being a researcher by training is using that skill doing fun research for my books. I research such diverse topics as mythology, witchcraft, police procedure, exotic locations, and of course, horses. There are some really fun holiday traditions people have with their horses that I’ve come across. The Chronicle of the Horse at has some wonderful ones. Here are some of my favorites:

• Lots of people do a very special warm bran mash with lots of apples and carrots mixed in. I’ve seen reports from people who use apple cider or applesauce mixed into bran mash, too. Here’s an addition I never heard of – adding crushed up candy canes or peppermint candies on top for a garnish. Ho- Ho- Ho!

• My in-laws like to warm up apple juice and mix it in with their water buckets. It’s a nice holiday tradition and they also do it on cold days to melt any ice and encourage the horses to drink. They also like to do homemade oatmeal raisin cookies on Christmas Eve and a special Christmas salad in the morning made of carrots, apples, and raisins. Tasty treats for our equine friends!

• At every barn I’ve been at there’s been a stocking in front of every stall and each horse got an array of treats put in it by all their human friends. There’s always a preponderance of crunchy apples and carrots with some Mrs. Pastures Cookies and sugar tossed in. Lots of people go for special bareback rides as a holiday treat. My darling boys didn’t have the broadest backs, so that wouldn’t have been too comfy for me to try, but it sounds like fun!

• Secret Santas always played a big role at every barn I’ve been at, mostly because we had so many junior riders. It was tough finding places to hide presents where our horses wouldn’t be nibbling on them. At the annual Christmas party we would exchange gifts, but would never forget our partners in their stalls and some cookies or other treats always made their way out of the party to be nibbled delicately from our hands by our best buddies.

• My husband’s family first started having horses on their property about 15 years ago. When they first had the horses, they used to sneak out at midnight on Christmas Eve to see if they could hear them talk, but they never caught them!

• The most wonderful tradition I’ve heard people speak of is the extra time they spend with their horses during the holidays. An extra grooming, a long scratch to an itchy spot, a hug and a kiss on the nose is the best present our beloved horses could have.

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions you'd like to share? Hope you all have a happy, safe Holiday Season and a wonderful New Year.

If you have time, I’d love it if you stopped by this evening to chat with me at The Romance Studio at I’ll be chatting at 9 PM EST about my new release Never Trust A Matchmaking Witch, romance, comedy, fantasy and, of course, the horse world.



Promise said...

Promise loves starlight peppermint candies. I went through college working for a dollar store, and every Christmas, they got 12" candy-cane poles...not bent and hooked like a normal candy cane, just a giant pole, and about a half inch thick. So, she gets at least 2 of these every year around Christmas time.

I didn't pull her stocking out this year, as we're moving barns right after the holidays, but normally I'll hang it on her stall and make sure she gets lots of extra treats.

Mary Paine said...

Promise is a lucky mare! That's a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Happy Holidays,

mugwump said...

I must be the scroogiest of scrooges. I give them a rub, look over their legs, take a minute to think how grateful I am to have them, go inside, put my feet up and drink a Rusty Nail.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to link to this for my Christmas post, if that's okay. Also ...

You have the good fortune to have been tagged in a 6 Horsey Things About Me tag/link/ring.

I know - just what y'all need. Fortunately, there's no deadline on this. Besides, if one of you is due to write a post soon and can't come up with an idea, then here ya go.;)

Anyway, there's more about it at

Anonymous said...

Mary, I don't do anything special on Xmas either. But I do think how happy I am to have my horses every single day when I walk down the hill to feed them morning and evening. I guess I'm the bah humbug type when it comes to holidays (!)

HorsesAndTurbos said...

My Xmas tradition is to go out, feed, clean the stalls, turn them 'em, just like every day, except I get to play with them during the day and not be at work!

Happy Holidays All!