BY LAUREN MAULDIN
This time of year, Hallmark holiday movies are my guilty pleasure. I’ve watched a “dog therapist” fall in love with a Silicon valley tech guru (and save the day before Christmas), a control freak get trapped in an Irish Christmas village (and fall in love… before Christmas), two sisters get placed in a Christmas movie (to fall in love before Christmas), and a fake ranch hand fall in love and save the day… you know, before Christmas.
These movies are awful. The acting is bad. The plot is predictable. The filmography usually isn’t very good. But everything works out in the end. There is a happily ever after. And this year, maybe more than any other year, I’m really yearning for that happily ever after.
My life is pretty okay. I have loved ones I am lucky enough to see this season. I have a horse that’s currently sound (knock on wood), adorable and sweet. There is a dog sleeping next to me right now, happily twitching her paws as she dreams. Still, it’s been a long, hard year. And I can’t help think of what things would be like with a wash of Hallmark Christmas magic.
The lead would be a young, aspiring horse trainer that just moved back to her hometown after living in “the big city.” Burned out from life as a corporate, high profile lawyer, she’s remembered her love of horses and decides to start training. Ignore the fact that she hasn’t ridden since her junior years and has absolutely no contacts in the industry—these are minor, inconvenient details.
She’ll walk up to a random barn, and say she’s here to teach lessons. It’ll be run by a disgruntled but very attractive owner, who will need help with the holiday horse camp “If you’re up to the challenge.” Over the course of some adorable scenes with tiny kids on fat ponies, we’ll learn that the barn is on the verge of bankruptcy unless they raise some money by… you guessed it, Christmas.
This is around the time where our heroine trainer, who of course by this point is flourishing at the farm, notices a talented but spooky warmblood in the back paddock. He’s of course wild, injured (or both) but has “champion bloodlines.” She’ll decide to leg him back up, with disgruntled farm owner watching and slowly falling in love as she enters him in the holiday grand prix. Where they will win, without question of USEF membership, qualifications or nomination fees, and the farm will be saved. As she poses for the winner’s circle, beaming, disgruntled farm owner (now happy and smitten) will kiss her and everything will be happily ever after.
It’d be incredibly cheesy. Incredibly unrealistic. Just like all of these holiday movies, but yet I not-so-secretly want this for all of my friends and barn family this year.
Things have been rough on all of us. The year has brought loss, hardship, and tears. Sometimes it’s a first world problem, like your horse being lame or stopping out at the show. Sometimes it’s the very real matters of the heart that keep you up at night. Lost family members, lost jobs. There has been so much loss.
So, just this once, I’d love a cheesy happy ending for everyone. If you’re desperate for your first horse or pony, I hope there’s a big red bow around a huggable, furry neck. Or maybe it’s a job offer you’ve been hoping for. Lead changes on your green horse. A course, just once, where you don’t lean for the long one.
Whatever it is you’re hoping for this holiday season, I hope at least some small part of your dreams come true. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie, but I still have faith in happy endings. And I hope one finds its way to you this holiday.
About the Author: Lauren holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of California Riverside, and is a lifelong rider and writer. Beyond equestrian journalism, she explores body positivity, mental health and addiction through personal narrative. She enjoys showing on the local hunter/jumper circuit in Austin, Texas.
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