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Christmas Eve – Turkey and Horses (on the menu)

Christmas Eve –Turkey and Horses (on the menu)

There was no chance of a sleep in. My eldest daughter had asked that I help her with the stallion. So her alarm was set for 7:30am. Mine was turned off. It didn’t help me though. I heard her get up and then she popped her head around the door. ‘Mum, I’m just going to feed the horses, can you be ready in fifteen?’

<<Horses are like rabbits, they keep on multiplying regardless of any financial prophylactic>>

We now have five horses at home. We had two already and the other three came home yesterday. Actually we have six: but my Lucy lives in another stables as I have been too broke and too busy to ride her for the past two years.  Horses are like rabbits, they keep on multiplying regardless of any financial prophylactic. Let me introduce them. Jaguar Claw is a famous ex racehorse. He has won races with Ruby Walsh on his back. Or maybe Ruby Walsh won races with Jag between his knees. Either way, his first career is over. He then went to the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) and was retrained as an eventing, jumping horse. Two years ago my daughter’s mare had to be put down. We had no money but I had worked pro bono for the IHWT for the past ten years and they suggested my daughter take him. We were delighted. A dark bay gelding he was fabulous. He was also feisty and could buck like a rodeo horse. My daughter had a great year doing schools jumping on him and finally took him to Hickstead in the UK to represent her school and country. Jag did us proud with only one fence down. However, and there is always a however with a horse, after his holiday he never came back. He had developed arthritis and had to be retired from his brief second career. Of course, a horse is for life and not just for Christmas, so Jag is living out his retirement in our paddocks.

Next we have Naz, a broodmare. Now, that is a really handy mare to have because her job is breeding. Nice. More horses next year. She is a nice mare though, despite her job. Over seventeen hands, a grey, she moves beautifully. And she has papers too. Breeding for a brood mare.

Yesterday Tia came back. A two year old, she has potential and is very pretty. She’ll be broken when she is four. During the summer she and Jag became firm friends. In the morning, he’d be standing guard and she asleep at his feet. They moved in synchronised unison all summer. Jag was very pleased to see her back. Naz less so but I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Naz bullies Jag a bit. He is stiff and can’t gallop around as much as he used to. He is the granddad of the lot.

Next up we have Deano. Now he is a Flemensfirth which is very impressive in the racing world. Apparently a cover costs at least €10,000 from that stallion. Deano, or Hurricane Dean to give him his full racing name, is a sixteen two bay gelding with a really gentle temperament but he wasn’t very fast. Not fast at all. His racing career did not last very long. He was on his way to the factory but he found us instead. My youngest daughter has been working with him all year. He is gentle but often doesn’t listen to her. He is also a little careless and tends to knock fences. She loves him. What more can I say.

Last but not least is Toby or Chestnut King. A Bavarian warm blood he is also sixteen two but a much bigger horse than Deano. He too was going to the factory but he found us instead. There was talk of him having kissing spine but that turned out to be untrue. He does have claustrophobia, separation anxiety, likes to kick holes in his stable wall and panics easily. But my eldest is working on him and we hope he will be jumping at competition level next year. She loves him too. What more can I say.

Anyway, at seven thirty this morning my eldest went out to feed the horses. I dragged myself out of bed and pulled on my running gear. I reckoned I’d go to the gym afterwards. I was needed this morning though as she was also minding two horses for my friend; a stallion and a cob. The stallion could be unpredictable and I was there for moral support. If he did go mad or bucked I’m not sure what my secondary role was, best not to think of those things.

<<It is a truth universally acknowledged that a quiet conversation with your daughter on the most insignificant of topics is a most amazing and beautiful thing>>

We travelled over in my daughter’s car. This gave me an opportunity to bring a cup of tea as I was not driving. What a pleasure. The roads were pretty empty with most sane people in bed. Georgina chatted away and I felt the warm rush that comes with bonding with your daughter on a quiet Christmas Eve morning. I think we spoke mostly of driving techniques as it is all pretty new to her. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a quiet conversation with your daughter on the most insignificant of topics is a most amazing and beautiful thing.

Our friend’s stables were calm with the two horses waiting expectantly for breakfast. We fed them and then led out the very quiet stallion, thank the lord. However, his water bucket was empty. As my eldest was holding Cruising, the role of collecting the bucket from the field fell to me. In seconds my shiny new gym shoes were covered in thick mud. I cursed and she laughed. I cursed some more. She laughed some more. I went into a dark fug for about ten minutes as I tried, without success, to clean my shoes on some grass.

Jobs done, we returned home, my daughter still laughing and I was too. Thoughts of that mastercard advertisement sprang to mind: everything has a cost but the value of bonding – priceless. As if echoing my thoughts she said the same. Shoes can be washed I guess. As we neared our village, next we came across a flock of escaped sheep. That entailed another detour. We phoned the farmer and he promised to be there directly. We phoned another friend and she stood at the top of the village to stop the sheep from going too far. There was a bit of running involved. The farmer was there in minutes and so on we carried on home.

My youngest was still in bed and we dragged her up for pancakes. Just as well because afterwards they were both there to let out the horses. They all went ballistic in their excitement and the dog must have run twenty miles chasing them and making them worse. Deano and Toby were in one paddock and they galloped and bucked and ran up and down with frightening skidding stops just before the fence. Then they both rolled at the same time. Stopped and began grazing.

I went back in to the sound of my youngest asking me where was the turkey? Agh, the turkey? Still in the freezer. Thank the lord she remembered!

I never made the gym, though I had a little run chasing sheep. Beats counting them I guess. My shoes can be cleaned. The pancakes tasted great and it was wonderful to see our horses going hell for leather across the paddocks with excitement.

Christmas Eve morning, one of the best I’ve enjoyed for many years, with turkey and horses on the menu!

1 Comment
  1. Lovely piece – exactly what Christmas is all about – but can’t let my daughter read it at the moment or I’ll have to sacrifice boiling my Christmas pudding for pancakes . . .