Santa's horse is the real draw

by Super User
Appaloosa Museum hosts holiday family activities, including Santa and cookie decorating The Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center hosted its annual Holiday Open House on Saturday. The event included snacks and cider, stations for decorating cookies or paper bag reindeer and a wind ensemble playing holiday music. Still, the most popular attractions by far were Santa and Santa's horse. A line to sit on Santa's lap stretched through much of the center's west wing, winding between Native American-themed horse art and historic memorabilia to a small sleigh with the big man himself seated inside.

Outside, children and parents were lining up in the chilly air to have their picture taken with an Appaloosa named Hazy, complete with a Santa hat modified to fit a horse. Hazy made the occasional nicker, but otherwise seemed content to munch grass and ignore the succession of children clambering onto his back. "Actually interacting with the horse is our biggest thing," said Crystal White, executive director of the heritage center. "They love Santa, but the horse is something that I've really found people don't have as much access to as I had thought."

Juli Thorson, a member of the Center's board of directors, agreed, saying the opportunity to interact with a horse is a special experience for the children. "To see how it delights a kid to see a real live horse and to get to touch it and sit on it and interact with it, is pretty cool," Thorson said. "I pride myself in my school horses, that they're so calm and good in any situation," said Hazy's owner, Nicolette Farenbaugh. Farenbaugh said she's been the owner of Wonder Stables near Pullman for about two years. Wonder Stables provides training in horsemanship and horse care, she said, and through this program children can learn important life lessons. "It puts a lot of kids out of their comfort zone, but then it's very empowering to them," Farenbaugh said.

The Appaloose Museum event takes place each year, and though it is generally a family event, Thorson said there's something there for everyone. Backcountry Horsemen had a booth at the event, as did local author Tracy Hammond, of Lewiston, presenting a slim tome entitled "A Dream, A Prayer, Cowboy."

"It's about being a cowgirl; little short stories and poems about living in the country - all true stories," Hammond said. "We've been doing this for over 20 years, maybe over 25 years," said Thorson. "The exact start date has kind of been lost to time." "It is real heavily oriented to families, but who can resist horses and cookies and Santa. I mean, it's a magic combination," Thorson said.

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