Happy Horse Birthday!

Happy Birthday to us,
Happy Birthday to us,
Happy Birthday dear Nevada, Rosa, Gidget and me-eee,
Happy Birthday to us!
And many moooooorrrrre.

Ready for cake!

Those of you not familiar with the world of horses may be surprised that the four of us are celebrating birthdays on the same day. But, in the life of a domestic horse, this is just the way it is. It’s not that we don’t have unique birthdays, we do, but not in the eyes of the industry. Truth be told, you probably won’t find a horse in Canada with an actual birthdate of January 1. It is way too cold at this time of year for a foal to be hitting the ground.

In reality, I was born sometime in August, don’t know the day, and Nevada’s and Gidget’s birthdays are a complete unknown. It’s likely they were born sometime in late spring or early summer which is normal for horses in northern climates. Rosa, who is a registered Quarter Horse, is the only one with a recorded birthday, June 5. To her credit, even though she’s the only one with papers, Rosa is a humble girl, never lording it over those of us of unknown origin.

Not looking at all like 28 years old.

So you may be wondering why January 1 is our official birthday. Well, it’s because humans require a means of standardizing horse-related events. Many equine sporting events are specific to a certain age of horse (like the Kentucky Derby is only for three-year-olds) so it’s important that the same standard is applied to all who enter. The Derby is held on the first weekend in May and a horse who turned three in April is quite a different competitor from one who is three on Derby weekend but four a week later. To work with the equine breeding cycle, January 1 was chosen for the northern hemisphere and August 1 for the southern hemisphere. Obviously, our date was selected in a place where winters are warmer and spring earlier.

The Kentucky Derby

For the majority of us equines who spend our time lounging around in pastures and packing a rider to a local competition or down a trail, the whole age thing is a lot less of an issue. Whether I’m sixteen, which I actually am until August, or seventeen, which I am according to industry standards, doesn’t make much difference to T, but it would be important if she were trying to sell me (which would never happen, of course.) But, let’s say in some crazy, alternate reality I’m for sale. The person shopping for a horse and reading an ad for a 17-year-old, handsome, clever, athletic gelding can be confident that I will be seventeen sometime this year, and not turning eighteen the day after she gets me home.

Birthday treats!

All of the above is to say that it was our collective birthday on January 1—Nevada turned 28, Gidget 24, me 17, and Rosa 13. We celebrated in the fashion we enjoy most, eating! For Nevada it was pretty much feeding time as usual with a few extra chunks of carrot thrown in, and Gidget also gets regular feedings of grain, but for Rosa and I, who have the misfortune of slow metabolisms and are on a perpetual hay-only diet, it was a glorious day. Sweet feed (which is a delectable mixture of grains covered in molasses) with chunks of carrot and apple mixed in was better than any birthday cake. Yum! Drooling just thinking about it. Seems Chico and I are both afflicted with over-active and anticipatory salivary glands.

It’s a special day when our feed tubs come out.

Because of this blog’s time-sensitive nature, I co-opted Logan’s “First Fur-iday” spot this month and I’d like to thank him posthumously for letting it become a pony-post day. Chico will be back next week to share some tales from the Logan archives.

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Comfort and Joy

I don’t know if it’s because I’m the only dog to carry the weight of dog duties and activities over the Christmas season, or if it’s my age, but boy oh boy, am I tired. Trips to Strathmore, city excursions, visiting with family, presents to open, dishes to clean, and the list goes on. Being home for the holidays is a lot different than our quiet desert Christmases.

A couple of my Christmas biscuits from friends.

On the plus side, I was included in almost every activity this past week, which isn’t always the case. Some places just aren’t dog-friendly. I get it. Well … sort of.

Luckily for me, her Christmas mug tells the truth!

The week started off with a family visit at Nollind’s dad’s house and, even though he lives on the fifth floor of a downtown condo complex, I was invited, and pretty stoked about it. I had to stay behind when they went across the street to a restaurant for dinner but (insert happy dance) my cousin H didn’t like the meatballs that came on her pasta and was happy to feed them to me when she returned. I showed my gratitude by taking them from her as gently as I could manage. My meatball appetizer was followed by a beef chew that was part of my Christmas gift. Spoiled? Nah, just well treated.

I even got my own monogrammed gift bag from Nollind’s mom!

Two days later we were back in Calgary for some shopping and other errands. I did have to spend some truck time, but there was a late-morning walk in the community of Banff Trail, I got to try sushi for the first time, and we wrapped up the day with a sunset walk in Sandy Beach Park with Cousin H and Uncle C. (I know they’re not really my relations but I figure that, since I was adopted by T and Nollind, their family has become my family.)

Sandy Beach off-leash park.

Christmas Day we were on the road again, this time just to the mailbox to pick up Christmas cards (thanks everyone!) and to Strathmore for a walk around Kinsmen Park. The streets were mostly quiet and empty but the park was a popular spot for dog walking so I had a chance to make a few new friends.

Christmas Day selfie.

Yesterday was the busiest day yet when my cousins H and A came to spend the day with us here on the farm. Was I that energetic when I was a pup? Probably. It seems like a long time ago. There was horse visiting and feeding, cat cuddling, Kubota riding, campfire cooking, and that was just until lunch! Which was awesome by the way … lunch. Kids love to feed dogs and they also have a tendency to drop bits of food. The kitchen floor was like a buffet!

Winter fun and games.

After lunch was some craziness with a big saucer behind the Yamaha Wolverine (aka Fang) that I didn’t partake in. Some things are best left to the bipeds. As the sun started to fall toward the horizon, it was time to head indoors again where there was cheesy pasta and cuddles and more biscuits. It was a good day.

Cuddle time.

I’m tired today, went back to bed right after breakfast. Tomorrow Ria’s coming to visit, bringing her dog parents G and S. I’ve got six years on Ria and I hear she had a restful Christmas so I’d better get plenty of sleep until then!

Couch time.

Storm’ll be taking the reins of the blog next week, something about a big equine birthday celebration?

Home for the Holidays

It will be a different kind of Christmas this year … no desert … no Logan. The four of us spent the past two Christmases in and around Quartzsite, Arizona—exploring the desert, lying in the sun, lounging by the Little Red Fireplace. This year we’ll be here in Alberta, and just three of us, unless you count the horses and cats who bring our number up to ten.

Christmas Day last year at Dome Rock BLM (Logan in his favourite spot).

Logan was always the ringleader when it came to opening gifts, being a greater lover of toys than I am. Last year it was a little candy cane squeaky thing. Silly, but he loved it. No matter his age, he never lost the enjoyment of something that squeaked or grunted or otherwise made a sound between his teeth. I inherited a whole basket of the goofy things. I hope T and Nollind give me a bone for Christmas this year. I prefer quiet deliciousness to noisy tastelessness.

Logan with his Christmas toy.

We’ve been out walking in our winter wonderland every day since the snow came. T started out in boots when the snow cover was light, moved up to snowshoes after a dump, and now she’s back to just boots with all the Chinook melting that’s happened this past week or so. For me, it’s four paws all the time, although I wished I had some doggie snowshoes on those deep-snow days. On the plus side, I’m looking svelte, fitting up my near-ten-year-old body for the winter adventures to come.

I keep up just fine on the hard pack.

And by winter adventures I mean Canadian winter adventures, the kind with snow and sunshine and, yes, sometimes cold. T and Nollind had been planning to take us south in early December, then mid-December, then just after Christmas, and then early January, but they’ve decided we’re staying home entirely this year. Sounds like there are a few reasons why, not the least of which is the old horse, Nevada. He’s had some health issues since the end of summer and T wants to be here to care for him on a daily basis. She thinks he needs her right now, and she might be right. I see the way he looks at her every afternoon when she goes out to give him his extra feed and supplements, like she’s just saved his life yet again.

Home on the range

Logan almost kept us home last year but Nollind built him a ten-foot ramp and we were off to the south. Maybe he could do the same for Nevada? Instead of the Fang trailer behind Sid we could haul a horse trailer.

The ramp that made it all possible last winter.

But, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m settling in for a Canadian winter—putting energy into growing an extra layer of fur. I’ll be fine. I actually like snow, as you might remember from my I Love Snow post this spring. And, as much as I miss Logan, there are more frequent adventures and long walks in my days as a solo, easy-travelling dog. Life is good.

Making my version of a snow angel.

I’ve heard talk around the house that we might even head out for some winter camping to places like the Cypress Hills and Kananaskis. In our first trip south in 2011, we spent some time camping in the snow in Utah and northern Arizona. Playing in the snow during the day and tucking into a warm trailer at night? Sign me up!

Snow at Bryce Canyon in 2011

From my home to yours, or wherever you may be this holiday season, wishing you and your furry (and non-furry) family a very Merry Christmas!