Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

The presents were done, the scattered wrapping was picked up and my family had disappeared into their corners to go over their loot.

New books were being cracked, games were being explored and clothes were getting tried on.

I was jittery from too much coffee, too much breakfast and too much conversation. I looked out the front window and watched Mort and Okie burling through the fresh snowdrifts piled high in their pen.

My father,silent in his stocking feet, appeared next to me and stood with his arms folded, looking at our horses.

“They’re wound up,” he said.

“They need to be ridden,” I told him.

“The snow’s pretty deep,” he answered.

“Let’s go ride across Carlson’s pasture. You know he kept the cows in. The snow will be incredible!” I shot a quick look at him, trying to read his mood.

The dairy across the street from us sported the flattest stretch of land around. I had envisioned a race across those fields more than once, but Dairyman Carlson was not open to horses riling up his milk cows.

When I turned around my father was gone.

I sighed and pushed my forehead against the cold glass of the picture window. It had been a nice thought anyway.

“Are we riding or not?”I heard my father bellow up the stairs.

I hustled to the basement and started shoving my feet into my boots.

“Where should we go?” I asked as I shrugged into my coat.

“Didn’t you want to go to Carlson’s?"

“Well yeah, I guess we need to go ask him.”

“I already called him, he thinks we’re a little nuts, but he said go ahead,” Dad told me.

Our boots knifed through the knee deep powder.

I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as we walked down to the horses. This was going to be so cool.

I saddled Okie and checked his feet for snow pack. The bottoms of his hooves were clean and bare. He nudged me with his nose and pulled at the back of my jacket.I pushed his face away as I stood up. His nostrils were lined with frozen crystals, his forelock and the long hair under his jaw hung in Rastafarian icicles.He swung his head around again for a rub and I scratched his forehead. His goofy, half white clown face made him hard to resist.

Mort headed off in a trot as my Dad swung into the saddle. He was already snorting and snapping his tail in anticipation, eager to get the show on the road.

Okie stood quiet and waited for me to get my feet in the stirrups. He walked off a few steps and then broke into his easy, swinging trot. We caught up before Dad got to the main road.

Our good dog Jud came trotting behind us, snorting and grinning as he grabbed up big mouthfuls of snow.

We crossed the road and I sat back and waited while Dad opened the barb wire gate. Mort handled it with ease, a wire fence was something Okie still had to master.

We stood next to each other and looked across the wide expanse of the pasture. Not a single track marred the 40 acre field. The breeze made me wish for a hat. I squinted against the sparkling snow.

Mort growled and shook his head, slinging foam from his bit as he worked himself up.

“Are you ready?” Dad asked me, he had a wicked glint in his eye as he settled a little deeper into the stirrups.

Mort felt a race in the offing, he geared up another notch and crow hopped in place.

Okie stood looking around, his face bright and expectant. He didn’t have a clue about what was coming.

“Eat my dust,” I said and whooped as I dug my heels into Okie’s sides.

Okie bucked in surprise but when I hollered again he smoothed out and took off after Mort.

The horses shot across the field, leaping against the force of the snow. It rose up in waves above our heads as we tore through the drifts.

We reached the edge of the pasture and made a big loop along the back fence. The horses necks were becoming wet with sweat and we slowed them for a few strides. Jud had been following behind in the horses tracks. He was covered in the snow kicked up by their heels. He jumped to the side to get out of our way and sunk to his eyeballs. He jumped and rolled, goofy with excitement.

Okie rooted against his hackamore asking for more rein. I felt the rough horse hair reins running through my stiff, red fingers and let him go.

I leaned forward and felt him surge, his strength and confidence building with every jump.
My dad and Mort pulled up alongside and we zig-zagged back across the field, sending sheets of snow into the bright blue sky.

Merry Christmas, Janet


  1. great story! i can picture it in my mind..

  2. I thought I followed your blog pretty closely, but sure didn't know your dad rode! What a great memory! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Man, that sounds awesome.

    I've been dying to ride in the snow, there's this field near my house that's all rolling hills and completeley open and covered with pristine white snow and I've been fantasizing about riding my horse through it.

  4. Thanks for sharing...

    Merry Christmas, Janet!

  5. Now that's what I call a christmas Story! Thanks for sharing that beautiful memory with us!

  6. When you tell a story the reader is right there with you. Thank you, for without you I would never have had that exhilarating gallop through the pristine snow on Christmas morning.

  7. That was an awesome story! I'm so jealous, we have that deep powdery snow right now, and I only wish I had a horse I could take out galloping through the snow.

  8. What a perfect Christmas gift! Thank you so much, its just what I wanted (well, I did think Sonita story at first). Snow, I remember snow. We had some last week. Tis now muck mud. Merry Christmas and Happy Horsaii New Year!

  9. Awesome ride time with your dad! what a great memory!

    You wrote, "jittery from too much coffee"? How old were you and your dad? And racing, wow! sounds wonderful, picturing the snow going everywhere.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  10. Merry Christmas to you, too, Janet!!!


  11. I'm sitting here with a wide grin on my face picturing the scene.

    Merry Christmas from Cape Town, where we have Christmas in the middle of summer!

  12. Great story on a great blog! Merry Christmas!

  13. That was awesome. A little teary eyed. Brought back some good memories.

  14. Wonderful story.
    Merry Christmas, Janet!

  15. Merry Christmas! Thank you for all the great posts this year. I've enjoyed every single one. This one was no exception.

  16. Now that sounds like a fun Christmas! Have to say I was surprised that your dad rode and even more surprised that he got on Mort not Okie! lol

  17. Merry Christmas Janet!
    Thanks for a wonderful year of great stories, sound advice and cheek hurting laughter!!
    Best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

  18. I have to admit, I fast forwarded a few years on this one. I was in college, and Okie was my first "fancy" horse.
    I guess we can call it a teaser for the stories to come.

  19. It should be a scene in a Christmas card!
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  20. Merry Christmas everyone... Hope everyone had a wonderful day.. I will post of my interesting christmas on sunday... My started off great then we found our beloved cat hit by a car... I guess it was his time, we had him for just over 4 years... Every year was wonderful and he will always hold a speaical place...I took the pain away by grooming up my mare and riding her bareback for a while...Then we had a wonderful dinner and off to bed I go now...


  21. Yes Merry Xmas Janet and thank you for all these brilliant stories.

    Galloping in snow, now that's something I can only imagine. We have snow in our High Country and the horsaii there are legendary but a snow gallop would be a rare thing here.

  22. So lovely!! It did bring back some marvelous memories of riding bareback through the snow drifts on my first horse. We once hit a drift chest-high on my horse, frozen over on the top from wind, and both somersaulted in the snow! I never even considered how dangerous that was, I just wanted to do it again! :)

    So cool that your dad rode with you...I never did get to ride with my either of my parents. That would've been wonderful.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!! Mugs, thanks for taking the time to post that. I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

  23. Beautiful!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  24. What a lovely story.

    I used to ride in the snow quite a lot, but now we have to go straight on to tarmac roads so it isn't safe, which is a shame.

    I remember when my sister and her welsh pony stepped off the path and completely disappeared in a huge drift. It was so funny, like the Thelwell cartoon 'hurry up, I'm on horseback'.

    I also remember my youngster rolling in a deep patch of snow and breaking the tree in his saddle grr! I wasn't quite quick enough to stop him going right over!

    Happy New Year to everyone from this lurker.

  25. A belated Merry Christmas to you Janet. I didn't realize your dad rode, but I can see where you get your spunk!

    Happy New Year my friend and look forward to many more posts on the Mugwump Chronicles!

  26. What a perfect Christmas! I had goosebumps reading it and felt like I was right there with you. :)