Holiday Horse Traditions
 By Winniefield Park   •   19th Nov 2013   •   3,190 views   •   1 comments
Holiday Horse Traditions

Horses are a part of the family and most of us enjoy including them in holiday celebrations. Horses may get a special meal, or be pampered in some other way. Often, holidays are a time of year when other family members, who don't always get the opportunity to experience horses up-close, get to meet our equine companions. It's fun to see how little children are awed by being able to touch a horse, hear stories from senior family members of a time when horses were a necessary part of our daily lives and of course, listen to the comments and banter inspired as everyone tours your stable. If you have a driving horse, you'll probably find no one says no to a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Or, without snow, little ones' faces will light up as they get a quick 'pony ride'.

Old Traditions
Before there was a jolly red-suited Santa Claus who traveled in a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer, his predecessor St. Nicholas, rode a white horse. St. Nicholas was more stern than our modern Santa in both dress and demeanor. But, he was the patron saint of children, and would bring them small gifts and treats. During the feast of St. Nicholas in early December, Dutch children leave carrots in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ or Sinterklaas’ horse, in hopes they will be exchanged for treats for themselves. In Belgium, hay, water and carrots are left outside the house for St. Nicholas' horse. On January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, Spanish children believe the Three Wise Men ride their horses to Bethlehem each year. Children leave their shoes filled with hay, carrots and grain to feed the horses, and of course hope to receive treats in return.

New Traditions
There are several events over the holiday season that include horses. One of the most colorful is the Costa Rican tope. There are several topes throughout the year, but the biggest happens on December 26 to start off a huge festival. The celebrations begin with a parade of horses that feature decoratively dressed riders and beautiful horses. Horse owners come from across the country come to show off their horses by prancing through the narrow streets. The goal of the tope is to entertain the crowd with your elaborate costume and high-stepping horse.

The White Horse at Alton Barnes, England is believed to be a copy of another similar horse picture of more ancient vintage, carved into a chalky hillside. Recently, the winter solstice tradition of illuminating this huge earth-artwork has been revived. The horse is outlined with candles in jam jars, and volunteers wait until dusk to light the candles and welcome the longest night of the year.

Boxing Day hunts have long been a tradition in Britain, United States and a few other places. They continue to be popular, especially in Britain, despite the ban on fox hunting. But, even where live hunting is allowed, kills are rarely made, and the focus is on enjoying a good gallop and camaraderie.

Horse racing is a holiday tradition for people in many countries such as in Britain, Ireland, Australia, and the USA. Even in Canada, where the snow may prevent other horse activities, outdoor harness racing continues well into the winter months and during the holidays, an evening at the races may include dinner and dancing.

The World’s Best Equestrian Christmas Party takes place at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London during the week before Christmas. The competitions and festivities include dressage, special demonstrations, trick riding, jumping, including the Puissance and a visit from Santa Claus pulled by a team of horses.

What are your holiday horse traditions?
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
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