Christmas!

The horses are tucked up, dinner is simmering, the wine glass is full, and the house tinselled and festive. Oh and don’t forget the pile of presents under the tree! 

It’s very nearly Christmas Day, and time to relax, see family, eat lots, and drink … lotser? 

How do the horses fit into Christmas Day?

Personally I like to be prepared; feeds mixed, haynets made, beds with fresh wood pellets. I’ve left their breakfasts outside their doors for the first person on the yard to feed. Usually I’m the first, or if not I don’t want them fed with the rabble in case I’m riding, but as I’m dragging my husband up there we may be a bit late.

We’ll turn out, muck out, get the minimum of chores done before heading over to see family and present our four year old niece with her gift (a five flipping foot tall toy monkey!). Then in the afternoon I’ll go back to bring them in, while dinner is in the oven. Depending on how the day is going they may have a groom, but it’s unlikely. After all, roast dinner is calling!

I like having the excuse to go out and get some fresh air (and peace and quiet) but I also think it’s a holiday, so the horses can wait until Boxing Day to be ridden, groomed and fussed.

Everyone has their own little routine. At the yard where I served my apprenticeship as many riding school horses who could be turned out for the festivities were on Christmas Eve. All the fields were hayed up as late as possible, the elderly Landrover was stacked high with bales and parked in the barn ready for Christmas Day. Staff either worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day or New Years Eve and New Years Day, so it was usually fair. We would split into two teams. One to hay the fields and check horses, and the other to muck out. Stables had feeds mixed up ready, haynets made up and fresh straw stacked outside so the yard was usually finished within the hour. The evening shift was just putting in feeds and haynets – unfortunately the horses that lived in weren’t allowed out during the day with no one on site to monitor them. The only time it took us longer was one New Years Day when we were all rather heavily hung over… 

My childhood yard had a policy that on Christmas Day a new layer on the muck heap was created. As everything lived in, it usually took two solid hours of mucking out to get them all done, and a further hour on the muckheap throwing muck up the huge levels and pushing it to the back, right up to the ceiling,so that the muckheap wouldn’t need emptying til spring (which then took two days to empty!). 

Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you got any shortcuts to make on the big day?

In the meantime, Merry Christmas from me! Enjoy the festivities! 

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