It was Christmas day, 1994. Lex had just turned seven years old. Hanni was a month away from being four. They were in their matching holiday nightgowns; the presents were piled high under the tree and overflowed onto the chair. A Breyer Horse Barn and new Breyer ponies to fill the stalls sat next to a lovely second-hand child’s saddle. The girls had taken riding lessons at a nearby farm where I was leasing a mare named Ariel.
After opening presents, we feasted on our traditional “Eggs Schaefer,” toasted english muffins topped with poached egg, homemade gravlax, salmon roe and hollandaise sauce.
As we were finishing the dishes, Jeff noticed an envelope on the back of the tree that had yet to be opened. He handed it to Lex who read it aloud.
Dear Lex and Hanni,
I have one more gift for you guys. It is very special and something that can only be had through sharing. Your mom and dad need to take you somewhere to see what this is.
We pulled on boots, coats, hats, gloves and stomped out to the car. As we were driving I suddenly remembered something. “Can we just stop off at the barn for a minute? I need to give Ariel her Christmas carrots.” Lex and Hanni groaned at the detour on the way to their surprise.
As we all walked into the barn, I slowed down in front of the second stall on the left. It had a shiny new sign and a bright pony popped his head over the door. Hanni and Lex stopped to take a look at this newcomer. I walked past and turned just in time to see Lex reading the pony’s stall sign, “His name is Nelson and his owners are…WAIT!! His owners are Lexie and Hannah Schaefer!!”
He was stunning and full of Napoleonic attitude. We lead him out and Dad retrieved the saddle he had slipped into the back of the car.
The first rides were thrilling. If only Nelson had remained that angelic, but like all ponies, he had life lessons to teach.
- Don’t come to me with anger or a bad attitude, I will show you attitude.
- If you don’t take me seriously, we will part ways and though it doesn’t look like very far to the ground, it will feel like falling a mile.
- I will never put you in danger and will trust you will do the same for me.
- I am a commitment. I require food, water and exercise. I like long fast rides, treats, a good grooming session and hugs. I will give you my heart in return.
- When it is time for me to go, please, know that I did my best and loved you above all others.
Rest in peace little Christmas Pony, you set the bar for holiday magic.