Christmas Traditions with Horses

Laura’s Christmas Parade

From 2001 to 2018, one of the Daley family’s Christmas traditions with horses was to take our ponies, mules, and mini delivered Santa to a local children’s hospital on Christmas morning.

Even though this Christmas parade was short, it was the best one. And getting ready for it was a long process. During the month of December, we would ride and drive our equines weekly to make sure they were steady, calm, and quiet for a very special parade.

Christmas Eve was spent cleaning and loading tack an wagons. Because it was an hour and a half drive to the parade route, we staged everything so it pointed out the gate. Later on Christmas Eve, we hauled all our equines to a local car wash so they could be clean and shiny. Why a car wash? It had three benefits: warm water, high enough pressure to penetrate their winter coats quickly, and the ability to wash and dry them fast enough so that no one got too cold. (There was only one time we were outside with heaters and a blow drier trying to get the horses dry before dark.)

Children, even those who were still in their hospital beds but healthy enough, would be brought to see the the arrival of Santa from the windows. Once we get the call that the kids were ready, we would start our parade from the side of the hospital out front and back to the entrance. We would stop right below the kids, who were watching from the windows. Snow was even trucked in, so the kids could have a white Christmas.

Santa and all the dignitaries and families would go into the hospital to deliver gifts and wish everyone a merry Christmas. On the drive home we would call family and friends to share the joy of another year of bringing a little happiness to the kids stuck in the hospital for Christmas. 

Jennifer and Darcy’s Christmas Traditions

While I don’t have any formal Christmas traditions with horses, like Laura, I’ve always thought that it was fitting to spend at least part of Christmas in Darcy’s stable. Not only is it an appropriate place to ponder the Christmas story, but on a cold night, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a nice warm barn, complete with the sound of horses eating.

On the subject of eating, Darcy’s Christmas traditions mostly involve food (not unlike mine). Every year she gets a real-sugar candy cane or Red Bird Peppermint Puffs as her gift. (She’s on a low sugar diet required by IR and PPID, so this is a real treat.)

This year, our barn owners arranged for Christmas pictures of all the horses. Darcy allowed us to put this disappointingly non-edible wreath on her and posed for this picture. I didn’t get a chance to print it on Christmas cards as I planned, but I’m glad I get to share it here.

Photo by Cherie Steele.

What are your holiday horsey traditions? Tell us in the comments below.

Jennifer Becton

Along with being the coauthor of Riding Fear Free and the Riding Fear Free Journey Tracker, Jennifer writes fiction, including Southern Fraud Mysteries, Mercer Murders, and Jane Austen-inspired romance. As an editor, she's a big fan of the Oxford comma. Visit her at

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