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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Riding Fit

Riding Fit Blog Post

Lately, I have seen many social media posts about how many calories are burned for the many different aspects of owning and riding a horse. Reading those posts can be deceptive, especially if you are trying to lose weight or stay fit. While not completely untruthful, mucking stalls and thirty minutes of horseback riding spent walking, trotting, and cantering does burn a considerable number of calories, the truth, at least for me anyway, is that farm work and riding alone aren’t always enough to keep you riding fit. Continue reading

Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Mounted Shooting for Greenhorns and Rank Beginners

Earlier this year, as I waffled back and forth trying to decide whether or not to attend the American Horse Publication’s Equine Media Seminar in Scottsdale, AZ, I received an email about a surprise pre-conference activity. Not long afterward, I learned just how special this surprise really was as an opportunity had presented itself to participate in an actual Cowboy Mounted Shooting Clinic. Right then and there I waffled no more. The decision was made. I. was. going. Continue reading

The Seven Stages of Horse Show Preparation:

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Pictured at a previous show, here’s hoping that the coming weekend’s show is just as fun.

For as long as I can remember, at every horse show I have ever competed in, I have gone through the following stages. Some of the stages are not so bad but others could use some work. Established cycles are hard to break. As I get older though, I’m working to keep the positive ones and transform the not so positive ones into new and improved habits. If all goes according to plan, this weekend I’ll enter the show ring once again. I’ll let you know which habits that I kept, which ones I discarded, as well as what worked and what didn’t.

Continue reading

On Car Smells and Horseback Riding

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The interior of my car. True story.

If you read my previous post, “On Painted Toenails and Horseback Riding,” you know that over the past several months I have started to ride more and let certain, shall we say “non-essential,” things go. Because who really cares? I’m riding!

The interior and exterior appearance of my once pristine car is the next in a long list of those non-essential things that I have decided I no longer want to bother with. The outside of my car is typical of what you would expect of any vehicle that makes regular trips to a barn. It’s dusty on the outside and occasionally there is mud. I can’t remember the last time that I gave it a full-fledged bath.  My family doesn’t worry much with the exterior, especially my husband whose truck more often than not resembles my car. Continue reading

Relationship Firsts for Horse Girls

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In most “normal” relationships there are many firsts. We’ve read about them in romance novels. We’ve experienced them in real life. We look forward to their first happy occurrence. The first kiss, the first “I love you,” even the first out of town trip.

Those firsts mark important relationship milestones.  For us horse girls though there are other important firsts of a completely different and non-romantic type. There is the first trail ride. The first horse show.

I do not share those experiences with just anyone. But there is another relationship first for us that’s  HUGE! I was horrified to admit it at first but deep down it is as equally important to us as any other first in a more standard relationship. Continue reading

On Painted Toenails and Horseback Riding

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Recently I got inspired to ride again. This is not to say that I had stopped riding before but I mean really ride again; as in taking my dedication to a new level by learning and perfecting some new skills. Initially, all was well. As most of you know, I’m a school teacher who is off during the glorious months of summer. I spent my time riding whenever I pleased.

Then August rolled around. It was time to somewhat reluctantly trade my riding boots for opened toed dress shoes and relegate my riding to evenings after school. I did the only reasonable thing I could think of. I painted my toenails. There is something about adding a fresh coat of nail polish. It’s shiny and unblemished and there’s a tiny girly part of me that really likes it. I silently vowed to commit to the added upkeep. Continue reading