Equus Absentius Holiday-itis, or EAH, can afflict both humans and their equine partners, though symptoms vary depending on the species. It is especially noted in December and more common in the countries that celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Symptoms in equines can include:
1. Pinning of ears when their human visits to express their displeasure in the lack of attention given since their human has been distracted by holiday shopping, cooking, visiting, and eating;
2. Attempting to bite their human when they turn their back to leave the stall;
3. Attempting, yet again, to bite their human when the girth is tightened;
4. Walking away from the mounting block to make it impossible for said human to get their butt in the saddle;
5. Cow kicking, crow hopping, and more ear pinning when asked to move;
6. Leaning on the reins, bracing against contact, yanking of reins out of human’s hands, giraffing the neck, and avoiding any steady contact; and
7. Shashaying, dosey-doeing, and generally attempting to have body parts moving forwards, backwards, left and right all at the same time.
Human symptoms include, but are not limited to:
1. Straining to fit into tight-fitting riding pants after consuming too many cookies, too many rich dinners, and imbibing a bit too frequently;
2. Getting easily distracted while at the barn and forgetting to remove the mud from one side because you are trying to remember if you took the price tag off the gift you wrapped for your grandmother;
3. Forgetting to remove shavings and hay from equine’s mane and tail, so the poor animal looks like a scarecrow as you ride;
4. Trying to fit in a warmup, walk/trot/canter work, circles, loops, halts, lateral work, and cooldown in less than 20 minutes since you have to rush home to bake cookies for the office party, neighborhood cookie exchange, and make food to take to your family dinner.
5. Straining to half halt correctly and coordinate your aids for a shoulder in since lack of time in the saddle has caused there to be a lack of communication between the brain and extremities;
6. Huffing and puffing because your are out of shape from lack of time to ride or do any athletic pursuit; and
7. Deciding that it is okay to not clean your tack since you have 100 presents to get wrapped by Christmas Eve.
The only known cure to EAH is to forego any further holiday activities, throw out any remaining cookies, let the decorations gather dust, and get yourself to the barn as soon as possible. Pack the tissues (runny noses are not an excuse to stay inside), brave the cold (invest in some winter riding boots and britches), and get your butt in the saddle. Symptoms should subside quickly and should remain in remission with regularly scheduled barn visits.