Birthday parties for horses. Wait. What?

Last weekend I attended a birthday party for a horse. Yes, you did read that correctly. I did in fact attend a birthday party for a horse.

The party was in honor of Missy’s twenty-fifth birthday. While Missy has several claims to fame, her owner chose to host this particular party because at age five, Missy underwent a serious colic surgery that was meant save her life but not expected to extended it much past five years. Twenty years later and here we are singing happy birthday in front of her decorated stall  and offering her carrot bribes in exchange for photo ops. Horses teach you things. Expecting the unexpected is one of those things.

Naturally, Missy is pretty special to her owner. I have known her for several years now and she is indeed a special horse. She wore a tiara for part of the party and surrounded by her family and friends she was offered carrot cake. She didn’t like it by the way. At her age, you can not choose not to like your own birthday cake. Her guests enjoyed refreshments and fellowship and Missy enjoyed being the center of attention.

 

Missy's Birthday Cake

Missy and her birthday cake.

 

Missy's Carrots

Missy accepting carrot bribes in exchange for photographs.

I admit it. It’s things like this that make folks question the sanity of horse people. I however love it. My husband would never dream of hosting a birthday party for one of his cows.  My friend Betsy, Missy’s owner who hosted last weekend’s party, isn’t the first horse person to hold a birthday party for a horse either. I’ve hosted a couple of them myself. There will likely be more after us. If you ever get invited to a party for a horse drop everything and go. They are well worth it.

When my Arabian gelding  Faax (Fox) turned thirty and again when he turned thirty-five, I hosted parties for him. Like Missy, Faax had some accomplishments in his life but even if he hadn’t he was significant to me. If you are not a horse person, thirty is an advanced age for a horse. He was family to me. Of course I was going to help him celebrate.

On both occasions I invited family and friends important to our life together. I served carrot cake at his first party but dispensed with it at his second. Like Missy, he wasn’t fond of his either. I also shared photographs of our many memories together. I made more photographs for new memories.

Both parties were a time of food, fun, and fellowship honoring the life of a special horse. That’s what these parties are for. I even wrote about one of his parties for an Arabian horse publication. One of the magazine’s subscribers who read the article happened to own a half sibling of Faax from the same foal crop. She tracked me down and called me. We shared stories and talked for hours adding another person to our close circle of friends.

I promised Faax another if he made it to forty.  Sadly, he didn’t make it quite that far which is why I’m so glad that I did them. Not quite two years after his last party he crossed over the rainbow bridge. It was truly an honor for me to be a part of his life for twenty-five of his thirty-six years. Opportunities for things that seem silly but in retrospect make for some of your very best memories should never be passed up. Go ahead and celebrate. I bet others will be glad you did.

 

 

Faax's 36th Birthday Party.JPG

Faax’s 36th birthday party.

Because this post is supposed to be a happy one about celebrating our horses and not one that makes you cry, I would love to hear from you about your horse celebrations. What special traditions do you have for celebrating milestones in the lives of your horses? Feel free to share the funny, the sweet, and the sad. After all, none of us are in this alone.

 

 

 

 

Carly Kade’s Equestrian Author Spotlight

This past summer, at the American Horse Publications Equine Media Seminar, I met THE Carly Kade! In addition to being a fellow blogger, Carly is the author of the best selling In the Reins series along with a slew of other extraordinary accomplishments. Here’s a link to her web site where you can purchase her books and learn more, Carly Kade Creative.

Carly is energetic, friendly, and just plain FUN to be around! It was easy to develop an instant connection. That’s why I was so delighted when she invited me to be a part of the Equestrian Author series that she writes on her blog. Carly’s interview with me went live yesterday and I’m positively thrilled to include on it here today! I hope that you will give it a read and follow Carly today! Sound like fun? Then read on! Equestrian Author Spotlight: Hope Ellis-Ashburn

5 Things You Should Know About Planning for Your Horse’s Future

Five Things You Should Know Post

Back in February of this year, I lost a dear friend and mentor. As the anniversary of her death approaches I am reminded of an unintentional yet valuable lesson that she taught me. Continue reading

The Importance of Mentors

Mentors Blog Post

Following a great training session, I bent down to remove the splint boots from my horse’s legs. As I loosened the fasteners I thought to myself, “I need to call Joanne. She would really love to hear about this.” Thirty years of doing something becomes a habit. I had forgotten for a brief moment, as I sometimes do, that back in May I had lost my longtime friend and mentor. I stopped when the realization hit me. Oh. Grief is sneaky like that. Even if you are well past the initial shock and feel as if you have made peace with it, it can come upon you at the most unexpected of moments.

Continue reading

Trail Riding Adventures at the Milky Way Farm

My love for trail riding the Milky Way Farm has grown each of the past three years that I have done it. It never fails to be chocked full of delightful surprises. My respect for the sheer magnitude and beauty of the farm is unrivaled.

This year my friend and I started planning for our trip well in advance. We deepened our historical research of the farm. We reviewed maps. We came up with a plan to see the  ruins of the famous Crooked Sheep Barn and to locate what remained of the 5/8’s mile Show Horse Track. We were not disappointed. Come along with me on a pictorial guide of our ride. Continue reading

Life on the Milky Way: Keeping Special Memories Alive & Well

I’ve posted many times about visiting and trail riding the Milky Way Farm (Pulaski, TN) but why is it so special to me? For a time, long ago, I lived and worked on a part of the original farm. Although it feels like a world away now my experiences there helped to shape me. I thought to enjoy sharing with you some of my personal photographs of one of the most amazing times of my life. Continue reading

Sharing Memories and Looking Forward to Spring

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View #6 of the remains of “Barn No. 5” at the Milky Way Farm. Additional photos can be found in the content.

The weather the past couple of days in particular has me feeling melancholy. Yesterday was a dreary and cloudy day with intermittent rain showers. Today is much the same except that it is much colder out; the rain is more frequent with an occasional wintry mix. Add to the mix a visit to one of my favorite places on earth, the Milky Way Farm located in picturesque Giles County, TN, and you have a combination that both reminds me of old but good times that live on in my memories (alongside a sadness at their passing) and thoughts of Spring. Continue reading

Memorializing a Special Horse

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My once in a lifetime horse, Faax El Din.

I could use about a million superlatives to describe him. He was truly special in every way. In my latest EQUUS article to publish on-line you’ll read all about how I memorialized him. This article originally published in EQUUS #468 (September 2016 issue). Continue reading

The Story of Kimbrook Arabians

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A big part of who I am in regards to horses comes from a period in my life when I was associated with, both as a friend & as an employee, with an Arabian horse breeding program in Middle Tennessee.

Want to learn more about the horses & people that I worked with? Here’s the link to purchase my book: https://www.amazon.com/Story-Kimbrook-Arabians-Hope-Ellis-Ashburn/dp/1507820291/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467317959&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Story+of+Kimbrook+Arabians