Every year around the County Island, when the days get shorter and the nights get colder and longer, and when us horses, and especially me, grow out our haircoats until we’re as fluffy as sheep before shearin time, the people fill the front yards of their little ranches with lights that blink and twinkle in the dark, and with “inflatable snowmen” and “inflatable Santa Clauses” that crouch by the roads in wait of an unsuspectin horse that they might startle or even spook. Not me, mind you. But some horses.
The lights and the “inflatables” don’t bother me none, although I also don’t see the point of ‘em. I also don’t really mind, although you may believe otherwise, when I’m made to wear such a thing upon my head as a Santa hat, or candy cane antlers, or reindeer antlers. I ain’t a reindeer, so I think that’s kinda funny, makin a horse look like a deer. I can appreciate it when people make an attempt to be funny, yeah, even when it’s at my own expense.
I also don’t mind when people festoon their horses with jingle bells, mostly on account of the bells ain’t on me. But the sound don’t make any difference to me one way or the other, other than to make me prick my ears at whatever jinglin horse is passin by and look at him and think, “Well, I reckon it sucks to be you.” I seen jingle bells put on horses’ breastcollars and halters, and in the instance of one horse who pulls a wagon around the County Island, on his harness. His harness jingles a helluva lot, which I guess is what the person wants it to do.
But speakin of deer, the one thing that does always make an old ranch horse pause and have to point his ears and say “huh!” is what’s called a “light-up mechanical reindeer.” Usually, if someone’s got one of ‘em in their ranch yard, they got three or four. And sometimes they’re kinda hitched, by way of strings of twinklin lights, to a “light-up sleigh” which is like a wagon only it’s called a sleigh, with a “light-up Santa” drivin it. And they’re all just standin there, like they done got froze in time. Until they start to move. All they can do is bob their heads slowly up, then slowly down again. Like all they ever do is nod and try to focus on somethin in the distance, but they never can focus on it. Or like they’re tryin to graze all night, only nobody told ‘em we ain’t got no grass here at the County Island. Poor pitiful light-up deer. And that scares some horses, who wonder what the deer are tryin to see all the time, ‘cause surely whatever they see is a very bad thing, to be bobbin their heads like that all the time. Or surely those are some addled deer workin at grazin on rocks and dirt all the time, and an addled deer is scarier than even a regular deer.
Seems like if a person wanted to have some deer in their yard, there’s better ways to go about it. Like, for instance, maybe just go out and get some real deer. Not that I’m recommendin such a thing. And the mere thought of that makes Coors Light’s eyes go wide, ‘cause real deer is the one thing in the whole entire world that kinda spooks him sometimes. He says it’s on account of they’re so quiet, and then they get real boingy.
I don’t see the point of light-up mechanical deer in a ranch yard. Maybe some cows would be more practical, ‘cause at least a horse could work ‘em, or play stupid cow games with ‘em such as ropin or team sortin, or a person could eat ‘em when they get tired of havin cows in their ranch yard. I guess they could put lights on ‘em, too, maybe string ‘em off their horns. And instead of a Santa, maybe they could have a real cowboy. Yeah, sure, with blinkin lights on his cowboy hat. Why not. Makes as much sense as the other stuff, to me.
What I see the point of even less, although I also don’t stoop so low as to spook at these things, is the most strange County Island cold time tradition of all: puttin Santa Claus hats on the heads of cactus. I’ll see ‘em all around the neighborhood when the bucket gal takes me trail ridin. Cactuses of all shapes and sizes, sportin red and white fuzzy hats. And on the heads of dead cow skulls in their ranch yards. Yeah, you read that right. County Island people put Santa Claus hats on dead cow skulls, too.
I guess a horse will never understand the ways of people, nor should he try. And it ain’t worth spookin over, lest a horse spend all his wakin moments spooked at the extra strange sights of the County Island this time of year. The best ya can do is walk calmly on by and say “huh!” Or take a cue from Mr. Santa Claus himself and say “ho ho ho,” which I like to think is “ho” as in “whoa,” as when your rider tells you to “ho” and be still. So just find your own inner “ho” when you see a ridiculous sight. ‘Tis the season for ridiculousness, after all.