The last time I got the great idea to do Christmas pictures on the horses, it was 1999. Amber was home from college, Ally was becoming a beautiful teenager and Lauren was six. I didn’t have three horses so we borrowed a couple from our barn friends, the Detweilers. Lauren, in a certain odd foreshadowing, was up on the biggest, grandest horse, named Magnum. He looked a lot like Bruno.
Despite all our plans that day to get a great picture, the one captured here was not that simple. Amber is a superb athlete but not necessarily a horse lover. She has ridden some but was not all that comfortable, bareback up on Ginny. Lauren was way too small for Magnum and we are lucky she did not fall off during the photo shoot. Ally was the only one confident and secure on her favorite ride, Soleil.
I have not sent a horse Christmas card since then. Lauren and I wanted to do that picture this year with our band of horses all together. First, obviously we needed a photographer. My dear friend Linda Potter volunteered and we started to seriously think we might be able to pull it off. Have I mentioned that Mickey HATES Bruno? Or that Feather kicks ol’Kid every chance she gets? And the chance of getting them to line up, five horses with just the two of us to handle them, well, it was minimal at best.
First, we had to decide on outfits. In our original picture we choose garland and red and green shirts but thought with standing in front of the horses, the garland wouldn’t really show. Then we found Santa hats at WalMart and modified them with elastic straps. The horses were not impressed with their hats and pretty much refused to put their ears forward in the desired position. For little Mimi, we found a candy cane headband that was darling on her little head.
Lauren and I picked out matching shirts (what is a Christmas card without matching holiday wear?) . I sewed the elastic to the hats, Linda agreed to meet us and we were ready to go. Except we had a monsoon of a rain storm a couple days ago and everyone was covered with mud. We spent an hour or so cleaning everyone up and finding old leather halters to fit all the horses so they would all match. Thankfully, Mimi came with her own little halter or I could not have found one to fit her. Through all this preparation we kept watching the sky. It looked like rain was going to come down again. Don’t forget the whole Bruno cannot get his foot wet thing. If it rained at all, even if it cleared off, we were done.
Linda arrived ready to photograph us. I headed to the arena with Mickey and Feather. Linda actually went and got Kid. Just to get the three of them lined up was chaotic. Kid had taken a couple of hard kicks from Feather earlier and wanted no part of standing by her side. We were doing pretty well until Lauren approached the arena with Bruno and Mimi in tow. We had put a stud chain on Bruno (a chain that goes through the halter and helps control the horse). Why we did not put one on Mickey is unclear. He is the bolting, pulling, bully and that’s just under regular circumstances. Today, he was out to KILL Bruno and was going to do his best to get at him. My nice little line scattered. Lauren had her hands full with Bru and Mimi and I was getting pulled around by Mickey. Feather just wanted to run away. I dropped Kid’s leadrope and just let him fend for himself.
But in the end, we got a good shot. I will get Christmas cards out this year! When we finally got back to house after chasing Kid down as he wondered away in his Christmas hat, Lauren looked at me and asked why the dogs weren’t included in the picture. Gee, I don’t know Lauren, maybe because we barely survived this photo shoot with just the horses. Oh, holiday pictures, we will look back on this and smile!