At Rock Creek Park Horse Center in Washington DC, we do some fun things throughout the year. As a stable within a national park, there are certain obligations we have, including making ourselves available to the public.
During the summer, we offer pony rides for kids, and trail rides for adults. We have a therapeutic riding program that serves kids from the community, as well as Wounded Warriors. Plus, we’re not far from the Nature Center, so we get a fair number of lost folk who discover that we’re a pretty fun and cool place.
During the winter months, we don’t typically get a lot of drop-in traffic. It’s cold, and usually wet. About the only people who come to the barn come deliberately because they have lessons, or because they are boarders.
But when the holiday season comes, the public gets another special window of opportunity to come and enjoy the barn and the park. The come because we offer “reindeer” rides with some of our ponies, whom we have dressed in various antlers and red polo wraps.
While people are waiting, they can visit with Santa, who is really one of our male riders sitting in an old sleigh. We play holiday music, and generally get our holiday spirit out of mothballs, and polished up. If you’re having trouble mustering the holiday spirit, just stop by the barn on one of these Saturdays, and I’m sure you’ll get your Jingle Bells ringing before the afternoon is out.
People come out in droves for this. And it’s quite a treat to watch. Some of the kids come dressed in their Sunday finest, even though they’re about to get dirty riding a pony. Some kids get freaked out by the idea of wearing a helmet and don’t ride as a result. Some kids are upset by Santa (it doesn’t just happen at the mall!). And some kids get past Santa, and get the helmet on, only to be overwhelmed once they’re sitting on the back of a pony. I guess when you’re only two or three feet tall, it seems like a paralyzing height to be mounted on a pony.
If you’re in DC during the holidays, come see us…