Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Bit about Rigby and a 20th Anniversary to Celebrate!

Rigby's Week

Rigby had a good week, mostly uneventful.  I'm so enjoying our morning play time, as Rigby spends more and more time cuddling on my lap, chewing contentedly on the toy of her choice.  She is growing fast and so I cherish these peaceful puppy moments that will soon be replaced by other activities.

Rigby participated in her second week of tracking and, although it was quite cold and windy, with an inch or two of snow on the ground, she showed her strength and her tracking improved with each track that was laid for her.  By the third track I was not pointing at the trail of treats and she kept her nose down and went from hot dog slice to hot dog slice.

St. Stephen's Day Party -- 20th Celebration!

I'm going to step away from writing about Rigby at this point to commemorate and celebrate the 20th year anniversary of a wonderful party that brings together so many special elements to create a meaningful holiday celebration.

A bit of history

When Dan and I met he was running a stable in Ohio, as he had for several years.  Instead of a pre-Christmas party at the stable Dan held a St. Stephen's Day Celebration on December 26th that consisted of games on horseback, a blessing of the horses and lots of food, drink and fun!

After we married and moved to Western Pennsylvania he missed holding the annual celebration and so when we boarded our horses at various stables he would always try to find a way to get at least some of the activities included in the stable's holiday festivities.

Rockin' V Stables and Sam and Lin

In June of 1992 we moved our horses to the Rockin' V Stables in McDonald, Pennsylvania and we were most fortunate to become friends with the owners, Sam and Lin Viviano.  We, in a sense, were their first boarders of a new enterprise, as when we moved our horses in they were still in the process of building an indoor arena with an attached lounge, complete with observation windows to view the horses working in the arena, a kitchen, a wood stove and, at that time, even a very large-screen TV.

When Dan approached Sam and Lin about holding a St. Stephen's Day party they quickly bought into the idea and, for the first couple years, the party was actually held on the 26th of December.  Because Dan and I were instrumental in introducing this party to the Rockin' V Stables, Sam and Lin always included us in the planning and Dan tried to help by stirring up Negus cups to help everyone fight the cold and he'd make the Yorkshire pudding to accompany the beef.  In time it was decided that holding the party before Christmas was more convenient for the hosts and attendees and every year since the party has grown in popularity.

What is a Negus cup?

Start with some brandy, add a bit of sugar, fill the cup up with hot water, squeeze some lemon juice into it before dropping the lemon slice in and sprinkle on some nutmeg, stir and drink till you're warm!

Even after we no longer had our horses boarded with Sam and Lin, Dan and I have continued to attend the party, only missing one event.  Many traditions have grown around the party, but the main ones are the games on horseback that take place in the afternoon, with participants trailering horses in to be a part of the fun; a dinner of prime rib, Yorkshire pudding and many side dishes made by Lin and by many people contributing to the meal; the drinking of a Negus cup and the blessing of the horses.

What is Yorkshire pudding?

Drain some of the liquid fat from the prime rib into a heated pan and pour onto that a creamy mixture of milk, eggs, flour and salt, bake for about 40 minutes until it is a beautiful golden color and an almost bread-like consistency, cut into slices and serve with the beef.

This year, 2012, marks twenty years that Rockin' V Stables has held their St. Stephen's Day party and I thought it only fitting to thank Sam and Lin for upholding this tradition, making it their own and, in the  process, holding one of the nicest holiday parties anyone could find at a stable!

Here are some photos from this year's party:

Fun and Games in the Arena:

A special friend Courtney and her horse Rocket.

Alan Rank waiting his turn in the games.

Christmas hats and colorful horses!

Whether riding English or Western everyone participates in the games.

All games are timed and a scorer keeps track of the leaders.

Prizes are awarded to the top finishers at the end of the day.

Carol Rank finishing up one of her runs.

Barrel race.

Keeping warm in the lounge:

Food, laughter and friendships!

Sam announcing the winners of the games!

Lots of appetizers to snack on throughout the afternoon.

Socializing in the lounge (you can see the arena through the
windows at the back).

Lin heating up dishes for the dinner.
She cooks all week making yummy dishes,
including a delicious onion tart.

Cowboy Jimmy with Dan and his Negus cup!


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