Happy Homemade Holiday

holidayorns1215_medWay back in the early days of my business I started a tradition of giving each of my current clients a small handmade craft or homemade food item to mark the holiday season. For better or worse, I’ve continued that practice.

This year’s present was fun and easy and only required a few simple ingredients. Inspired by something I saw at an autumn craft fair, I made cinnamon dough ornaments in the shapes of horses. They smell great while they’re baking and as they’ve traveled with me to deliver they’ve given my vehicle a festive scent, too.

Here’s the recipe for those who might want to try this at home next year:

1 cup applesauce
1 to 1-1/4 cups cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves

Mix into a stiff dough, roll out to appx. 1/4 inch and cut into shapes with cookie cutters and ream a hole with a toothpick or skewer. Dust your surface with extra cinnamon to prevent sticking. Place on parchment on cookie sheets and bake at 200F for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until they’re completely dry. You might want to turn them after about 1/2 hour to keep them from ending up with a bit of a curve. (My first batch of cinnamon horses was too thin and ended up with a permanent left bend!)

There are lots of decorating options – dried flowers, charms, buttons, glitter – or leave them plain. I used 3D fabric paint, which only took a couple practice runs to master (and I’m not a great painter.) I finished off with raffia strings for hanging, but you could be creative with that, as well.

Hope you all have a happy holiday with some homemade and handmade fun!

My Horse is One Hundred Today

In my world May 1 has nothing to do with maypoles or the anthem of the workers’ collective. May Day is Ichobod’s birthday and this year he reaches a big milestone. Sort of. Probably.

There seem to be a number of ways to calculate the horse:human age ratio — even some that require considerably more math than one simple multiplication operation. (That’s not happening.)

For my very old and slightly senile but much-loved bay gelding, I picked the method that assigns an average of 3.33 human years to each horse year. So, on the strength of that random bit of cyber wisdom, I declare Ichobod to be 100 years old today. Roughly. Maybe. Close enough. (That’s 31 in horse years for those who don’t want to do the math backward.)

To celebrate this momentous occasion, there will be a party on Sunday, May 11. If you’re one of my Tucson friends and/or clients, you’ll get an invitation with more details in the next day or so. Just save the date and plan to come have some fun. If you’re one of Ichy’s many fans/students who don’t live near, consider yourself welcome should you plan to be in the area on that day. Just email me for details.

Also in honor of Ichy’s big day I am sharing a letter written to the woman who gave him to me way back in the spring of 1997, telling her about how much both she and this horse have shaped the horsewoman I have become. In it I share a bit of my history with Ich, as well as a bunch of pictures of him over the years. I’ll excerpt a bit here and provide a link for anyone who is interested in reading the rest:

“Dear Dana,

I have been thinking for a long time of writing to thank you for inspiring me to become a better horsewoman, both by the knowledge you shared and most of all, bysending me Ichobod, who has been a great (and sometimes demanding) teacher. Finally, on the occasion of his 31st birthday, I’m doing just that.

Over the years I have thought of you often while working with horses and riders, helping them to move better together. You were one the people who first challenged me to think about horses in a different way and to keep learning about how they function. I was in awe of your knowledge and your insight, of the way you seemed to see inside horses both physically and emotionally and how you knew both what they had been through and how to help them. I felt the breadth and depth of what you knew about horses and I knew my knowledge was inadequate if I, too, wanted to develop the ability to see and understand. Your example helped to put me on the path I travel today, and your gift of Ichobod ensured that I wouldn’t be allowed to shirk my studies.

For many years, his job in my life was to get sick or injured in ways that traditional vets couldn’t address or didn’t even recognize, so that I would have to find and figure out new ways to help him feel better.”
(Read the rest of the letter here.)

Happy Birthday, Ichobod! I wish you 31 more years of health and bossing people around.

Happy Holiday, Scandinavian Style

Wandering the internet for something else entirely, I came across these charming images by Danish artist Anders Olsson of the traditional Scandinavian gnome-like beings known as a “nisse” or “tomte.”

I learned about the Julenisse, a kind of Christmas elf, when I lived in Norway years ago. And about how other nisser – distinguished by their bright red hats – had been considered to be part of everyday life, helping people in their daily tasks. But I didn’t learn about the barn nisse, who helped care of the farm animals. So I enjoyed following these images through cyberspace to read a bit more about the gnomes who help farmers take care of their animals.

“They are both solitary, mischievous domestic sprites responsible for the protection and welfare of the farmstead and its buildings. Tomte literally means ‘homestead man’ and is derived from the word tomt which means homestead or building lot. Nisse is derived from the name Nils which is the Scandinavian form of Nicholas.

“A tomte is described as an older, little man about the size of a young child. He wears old often ragged clothes, usually gray or navy, and sports a bright red cap on his head. He resides in the pantry or barn and watches over the household and farm. He is responsible for the care of the farm animals, especially the horses.”
Legend of the Nisse and Tomte

Of course, I’m going to like any creature with an affinity for horses. So in this season of celebration and looking forward, I wish you the best and hope the nisser take good care of you and your critters!


A Day to Celebrate Horses

  • Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;
  • Whereas, without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;
  • Whereas horses continue to permeate the society of the United States, as witnessed on movie screens, on open land, and in our own backyards;
  • Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;
  • Whereas, because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter; and
  • Whereas the Congressional Horse Caucus estimates that the horse industry contributes well over $100,000,000,000 each year to the economy of the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) encourages all citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States;

(2) expresses its sense that a National Day of the Horse should be established in recognition of the importance of horses to the Nation’s security, economy, recreation, and heritage; and

(3) urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States and interested organizations to observe National Day of the Horse with appropriate programs and activities.

Zombie Apocalypse

It’s Halloween, that holiday when people celebrate being scared. Horror movies on television and the big screen. Gruesome costumes. Haunted houses and spooky corn mazes.

What scares you? One of the trendy frights seems to be zombies. Even the staid Centers for Disease Control has gotten into the spirit of the season, with a blog detailing potentially boring disaster-preparedness tips titled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” Funny. And, let’s face it, we’re more likely to read the suggestions when they’re accompanied by funny-scary pics.

Those aren’t the images I see in my head when I read or hear about zombies, though. I actually see an arena full of horses (big surprise!) being forced into horrendous, unnatural versions of their gaits.

So, for Halloween, here’s my version of what the Zombie Apocalypse looks like (and I dare you to open them all at the same time):

Paint Zombies:

Quarter Horse Zombies:

Palomino Zombies:

Appaloosa Zombies:

Pinto Zombies:

Buckskin Zombies:

Yikes! Scary Stuff. Happy Halloween