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Train Your Own Horse with Stacy Westfall

Dec 25, 2019

Episode 58: Welcome to the Christmas edition of the podcast, because this episode releases on Christmas Day this year, I thought I would share one of my favorite Christmas memories with you.

Or maybe it's a lesson you get to decide.

What you're hearing in the background is a clue to my favorite memory.

Are you ready?

My favorite memory is actually feeding the horses on Christmas Day. It's probably not what you're expected, right?

The horses get fed twice a day, every day, year-round around here. So why would feeding on Christmas Day rank so high? When I listen to people talk about the routine of feeding horses at their houses every day, it often falls into one of two extremes. They either say something like the best part of having horses at home is…

or sometimes you hear people say the worst part of having horses at home is….

And both opinions are valid. There isn't really a right or wrong.

And I'll admit that I have felt the wear and tear of the everydayness of feeding and cleaning. And I admit that sometimes that makes it feel like a chore. And maybe that's why feeding on Christmas Day feels different. Maybe it's because that feeling of celebration is in the air.

Or maybe it's because the time leading up to Christmas is anything but routine. And so the routine of feeding is welcome.

Maybe it's the quietness and the barn that morning or the horses smell.

Or the horsey sounds.

I'm sure of one thing, though. What I'm sure of is that my mom influenced me in this area.

When I was growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money, owning horses was a struggle at times, so it was very easy to remember not to take them for granted. And while I was growing up on Christmas Day for as long as I can remember, our routine was to get up. My brother and I would be so excited. That could be pretty early. And the first thing we would do was open our stockings and then we would all stop and go feed the horses. I remember as a child begging to open presents before we fed. And I remember my mom explaining and never getting angry that the horses were in our care and that they depended on us and that we had made this commitment to them. And we would put on so many layers of clothing and we would trek through the snow,

(remember, I grew up in Maine) and we would feed the horses. And looking back, this also gave Christmas morning feeding a special feeling, the anticipation of the presents that were about to be open, hung in the air. And you might think that this made me rush through the feeding, but the horses were always so funny because we would bring them special treats. So instead of Christmas feeding being a speed event, something to rush through to get back to the presents, it began with giving presents to the horses, carrots, apples and other treats and always extra hay.

And maybe it's my memory or the weather or maybe they picked up on our energy level, but they always seemed extra perky on those cold mornings. And when I became a mother, we continued the tradition. Whatever time the kids got us up on Christmas morning, we would open the stockings first and then we would head to the barn to feed.

And then it was my turn to explain that the horses dependent on us. And it was my turn to hope that the boys could see the simple joy. And to hope that they would enjoy the anticipation instead of resenting the interference. But in the end, I knew that is each individual person's choice, whether they view it...s the joy or the interference.

Is the everydayness of horses. The best thing or the worst thing? I guess it's all in how you look at it.

Merry Christmas.