Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gaitaway Gala

The first Saturday after the new year is always the date of a festive fete hosted by the owner of Gaitaway Stables, where I’ve kept my horse, Chubby, for the past eight years (to see a story about Chubby, go to "A Horse Of My Own"). Trina Vogelsang, owner and sole proprietor of Gaitaway Stables in Randallstown, Maryland, treats the annual get together as a celebration of the founding of her horse-boarding and training enterprise, as well as a cheerful holiday party. Yesterday was Trina’s 14th anniversary in business.

Trina, flanked by her parents, Richard
and Mary Vogelsang
For this festive but casual affair, I chose dark-washed, boot-cut Levi’s Perfectly Slimming denim jeans and a raspberry-hued top by venerable ski-wear maker Nils with a rhinestone embellished zipper for a touch of glam. I kept my jewelry simple, wearing only a pair of silver earrings that were a birthday gift from my cousin Ruedi in Cody, Wyoming, last September, and a silver charm bracelet full of Pandora charms, gifts from Trina and her parents, Mary and Richard Vogelsang, over the years.

A sumptious display of holiday fare
As is party custom, Trina’s dining table, pushed to one side of her large dining room, groaned under a wide array of sandwich makings, salads, chips, dips and sweets, including her mom’s wonderful Ambrosia, a fruit salad featuring pineapple, shredded coconut and marshmallows. In Greek mythology, Ambrosia was considered "food of the gods". The name is aptly suited to this wonderful American dish, first recorded in the 1870s.   Supplementing the cold fare were two crockpots in the kitchen offering meatballs and boneless wings, both in delectable sauces, along with an assortment of beverages and desserts.

Trina’s yard was adorned with a lighted horse-drawn sleigh and other holiday decorations, and the tree in her living room was beautifully appointed with horse-themed ornaments, including several hand-painted portraits of her own horses. As a wonderful Christmas gift, one of Trina’s stable volunteers, Scott, used his considerable woodworking skills to surprise Trina with a handmade sign featuring her stable logo, which she proudly displayed on a paddock fence.

New wooden sign handmade for Trina
by a Gaitaway volunteer
An intelligent, energetic woman with a matter-of-fact personality and a huge soft spot for strays, whether they be dogs, cats, humans or horses, I count Trina among my closest friends. Besides nine barn cats who keep the mice and snake population to a minimum in her barns, Trina owns two Pit bulls, both from a rescue shelter, who are the lights of her life, along with her six beloved geldings. With over thirty additional horses being boarded and/or trained at any given time, along with a well-groomed and lighted riding arena and 70 acres of meandering woods which back up to hundreds of acres more of wilderness for trail-riding, Trina’s business is an old-fashioned, picturesque, thriving labor of love for her, a small fulltime staff, and a host of volunteers, like me, who help out on a regular basis with twice-daily feeding, stall-mucking and other chores.

Trina with her beloved dogs,
Kieren and Leah
No matter whether sleet, snow or oppressive summer swelter greet each day, Trina and her staff care diligently for the animals in their custody at all hours. Boarders, like me, who trust our horses to Trina’s conscientious care, find ourselves riding and helping out in all kinds of weather conditions. So it is good to see everyone scrubbed clean for a change and spiffed up in attractive party clothes unadorned by horse slobber and grooming dust. A time to chat, to compare notes and experiences and to savor food and camaraderie around an equine core that is dear to all our hearts, Trina’s annual holiday-anniversary party is always a joyful gathering.

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