Monday, December 19, 2011

The Holiday Edition

t’s the Holiday Season.   If that’s news to you, then your cave needs more windows.  The Holidays bring with them a lot of stress and some truly odd behavior.  Today’s topic is Holiday Syndrome.

First, I’m not going to ask what your chosen holiday might be.  Nor am I going to succumb to the War and call everything Christmas just to be on the safe side.  I know for a fact that my readers are an eclectic bunch, as are their horses and their ideas of holiday celebration.  All of the holiday season engages us in an inordinate amount of stress and anxiety, not just because we can’t settle on a name for it all, but because we focus our entire sense of humanity and charity on a short period in the winter without any thought about why we’re so damned stingy the rest of the time.

We need to do better than that, but that's a different post.

The Big Conversation, the raging argument over what to call this time period, truly does a disservice to the real problem at hand, to wit:  What shall I buy my horse/dog/cat/gerbil so he won’t feel left out?  

First, I’m pretty sure that your animal partners have no clue there’s anything unusual afoot until the moment the animated deer or inflatable elf suddenly lights up the yard and scares the bejeezus out of them.  For most animals, the winter holiday season is a time of freakiness, highlighted by musical lighting arrangements and owners wearing a lot of the only color most horses really recognize:  Red.  Most likely, if you asked your horse what he wants for the holiday, he’d answer that he’d like his owner’s mind back.  So the concern about what sort of gift to buy him is something probably best put on a back burner while you sort out all the strange human relatives first.

In order to make your holidays simpler, here are a few reminders and suggestions to help you and your chosen animal buddies through the crazy season.

  • ·         Animals are not all fond of wearing clothing at any time of year, not just at the winter holidays.  If they are willing to let you put a red hat or antlers on their heads or dress them as elves or snowmen or whatever floats your holiday boat, and if they do that without biting you or each other, consider that their gift to you.  No need to get more touchy-feely than that.  Taking off the hat/horns/whatever can be your gift to them.  A cookie would also be nice.
Last year we got Tuft his own predator.  It did not go over
as well as expected.

  • ·         Your house pet might feel a little left out when the family is gathered ripping into packages and they have nothing to tear.  He’s probably happy to tear up something you’ve already opened, so just give the cat the box or the dog the paper and let them have at it.  Then give them a cookie.

  • ·         Some horse owners get all fuzzy and decide a “nice hot bran mash” is just the ticket for holiday breakfast for their favorite equine buddy.  He may like it.  Just remember as you shove the kids out of the house to clear the kitchen for your mash-making episode that you’re the one who’s benefiting most from the effort, not the horse.  Give him a cookie, and he’ll be Just as happy.
Pinky is not showing off his new blanket here.  He's
teaming up with Duke to get the thing off him.

  • ·         When you’re already financially stressed and you’re counting pennies to pay off the lay-away at Wal Mart for your kids’ winter clothes is not the time to be fussing over the perfect winter blanket for Fluffernutter.  If he needs one, he probably needed it before this when it was on off-season sale.  And “I’ll buy the most expensive one” because it’s a holiday gift is bizarre thinking.  Get him whatever is on sale that will work, and invest the extra in a really special cookie.  The yummy, soft cookies I bought this year were so special I couldn’t get the horses to leave the barn after they had their allotted one cookie each.  That kind of gratitude and excitement never followed the presentation of a bright purple,  high-necked, gusseted blanket with a lifetime tear-resistant guarantee.

  • ·         Finally, probably the best thing you can do for your horses is to keep them in mind and heart and not disrupt their world any more than necessary.  Just because it’s a holiday for you doesn’t mean they’re going to set aside their herd hierarchy issues and deal with sharing a paddock because it looks so festive or forgive you for the frozen water buckets because you're so obviously distracted.  They’re not suddenly going to be broke to pull a sleigh or enjoy giving rides to your kids, grandkids, neighbor’s grandkids, or paunchy Uncle Walt.  Believe in miracles if you wish, but remember that the horses are horses and believe mostly in the next meal and their sacrosanct spot in line at the water trough.  

Remember that if it's winter in your locale, you need to be sure every animal in your house and barn has what they need to survive.  If you buy silly gifts, make sure they're safe for the animals.  And if you can spare more than a minute or two, a scratch behind the ear, a pat on the head, or a thorough grooming will be much appreciated. 
Seasons Greetings From Me and the Herd

Happy Holidays!  May the New Year bring you and your non-human family everything you desire and a small dose of sanity to top it off. 

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