Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Horse

Here is my horse Nello's "official Christmas photo - 2011", and he is anxious to share it with everyone!

As you can see, Nello is adorned with a Christmas decoration affixed to his halter - which he tried to eat - and the photo was challenging because Nello likes to close his eyes when stationary, his theory being that it is never a wrong time for a nap.   The only reason that he is looking at me with eyes open is that I crinkled paper near him - which sounds like a bag of carrots opening.

As you can see, he is fuzzy, having grown his winter coat.  It keeps him nice and warm on trail rides or just standing in his paddock, enjoying the sun.  Nello's current favorite pasttime is trying to stand as close as possible to a mare named Allie, whom he is in desperate love with.  He moons over her, standing pressed to the fence, watching every move she makes.  (She likes him too, thank goodness!)

We have been together for 8 months now, and we are enjoying every minute.  Nello is happy at his new barn, and is affable to anything I might have planned - except for getting on his back.  He has a new maneuver, when I am attempting to mount up; swinging his hind quarters away from me.  This started when he had a terrible bout of arthritis, and was trying to tell me he couldn't handle a rider.  Now that he is better he has adopted this move as a permanent one, so we are working on it - it is important, in the horse world, for the rider to "win" every argument, so I have exhausted myself trying to climb aboard this fellow.  He is slowly getting better.  The funny thing is, he swings his head back at me while he is doing his signature move, as if to send his regrets about his behavior.  I'm not buying it, Mister.

He is my Christmas present, my source of relaxation, my down-time, my investment in myself.  I am grateful every day that I took the plunge and bought this carriage horse who had never had his own person until now.  Nello was always a "throw-in" in a sale of other horses, or part of a carriage team, with no identity or recognition of his own.  He was almost put down a few years ago, as he was on a working farm and he was not serving a purpose, due to an old injury that was quite serious, although it healed well, thank goodness.

So, he has a sweet attitude of compliance and gratefulness that many animals who get a second chance have - and makes himself a pleasure to be around.  The people and horses at his barn love him, and he is truly spoiled with treats, pats, and baby-talk (which he melts at, when he hears.)  He loves carrots, apples and cookies, is fussy about hay, is afraid of trailers, gets energized by wind, and loves to have his back scratched. 

He is perfect for me.  Merry Christmas, boy.  Thanks for the amazing ride we're on.

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