Christmas Parades and I have a sordid history. Until yesterday (and technically not even yesterday), I have never been able to ride a horse in a parade without some sort of drama. I’ve been bucked off, had a mule bolt and then refuse to load, and had one horse so nervous I had to get off and walk beside her. I had high hopes for this year, and even though it didn’t go exactly to plan, it sure beats every other parade I’ve ever been in!
The plan was for me to ride King, one of my lesson kids to ride Baron, and the other lesson kid to ride a friend’s horse. We were also planning on having Aaron’s owner come up from Ocracoke to ride with us (she lives on the next island down and has to take a 1.5 hr ferry to get to us). The kids were EXCITED. They had decorations for the horses, and we had organized enough trailers to haul everyone down to the parade. Heck, I was excited!
The weather was not cooperating, however. It was raining and blowing 20 mph. We were at the barn decorating the horses (actually the kids were decorating, I was sipping my second cup of coffee), and we were watching the rain come down. It wasn’t looking good. Just as soon as we were about to load the horses, we got word that the parade was rescheduled to the next day.
I had two trailers hooked up, horses with braids and jingle bells and other Christmas accoutrement, and three very excited children. I also couldn’t do the parade the next day for various logistical reasons. Our group of riders, 6 altogether, decided to load up and ride the parade route anyway. What’s a little rain? We’re tough!
We ended up having a delightful ride around Hatteras Village. We waved at people and sang Christmas carols, and all the horses were delightful in every way. It was WINDY, but it was 70 degrees and the rain cleared up. We only got sprinkled on a little! My parents and my daughter (who doesn’t like to ride) came out and met us on the road, and my mom passed out ginger snap cookies to us and the horses.
King was good as gold the entire time. I rode in my waterproof riding skirt and even though it is thick and heavy, it was blowing around a bit. King wasn’t phased. We crossed 3 bridges and all the horses soldiered on with no problem. King is getting better about standing still and waiting too. We had to stop a couple times because one of the horses had to pee, and to chat with my parents, and King stood quietly with no pawing!
One very adorable habit he has is that he tries to approach people he sees. We passed a couple walking on the sidewalk and he tried to walk over to them. He has done this on the beach too. I don’t know if he’s friendly or curious or what, but he likes people and wants to check them out!
At our Christmas party the other night, we made horse treats, so we passed those out to all the horses after the ride. King also is a big fan of cookies. Picky Baron wouldn’t eat them because he doesn’t like peppermints. My mom gave him a ginger snap though, and he approved.
All in all, it was a fabulous day of riding on well behaved horses. It just goes to show that the more you do with your horse, the more you can do. The more things you expose them to and situations you put them in, the more they learn to take things in stride. King is just naturally a chill horse, and he seems to enjoy his island life! Six months ago he was standing in a kill pen, so weak he could barely stand and likely headed to the slaughterhouse, and today he’s wearing jingle bells and spreading Christmas cheer. That gives me a merry Christmas!