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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Guest Blog: Storm!

Howdy! My name is Storm. I know this is generally a dog blog but, I might as well tell you right up front, I’m not a dog, I’m a horse. Chico and Logan have been promising me a guest spot for months and, at last, I get my chance. I’m also on the To All the Steeds I’ve Loved Before list for T’s blog, but she’s only on Echo and I’m at least a couple of horses after that.

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Happy to be one of the steeds she’s loved.

 

So, a little bit about me for starters, I guess. I mentioned I’m a horse. Well, technically, I’m not. I’m actually a pony. The dividing line between horses and ponies is 14.2 hands in height (a hand is four inches for those who might not be familiar with the units used to measure equines). I’m 14.1 (that’s 14 hands plus one inch). If I’m overdue for a hoof trim and you count my thick winter coat, I can probably squeak out that extra inch but, in the world of horses, I am not a horse.

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The saddle makes me look taller. Right?

 

I’m 15 years old and have lived here at the van Bryce farm for going on 14 years now, since I was just a year and half old. The story of how I came to be here is kinda cool, if you like feel-good-happy-ending animal stories. I was apparently born in August of 2002 but I don’t remember much about my foalhood. My earliest memory is being at the Innisfail Auction in April of my two-year-old year. I was standing in a pen before the auction started and a few people came by to look at me, but not very many. I was kind of small and had that half-shedded-out-spring-scruffy thing going on, so I probably wasn’t what most people were looking for.

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Me in April 2004

 

And then I had the misfortune of being first horse through the ring. Who bids on hip #1? Everyone is sitting on their hands waiting to see what the prices are like before they bid … except for the meat buyers. They’re not too fussy.  For them it’s all about price per pound. So that’s who bid on me, and bought me, for $180. Of course, I didn’t know one buyer from another at the time. What I did know is that the man who bought me from the auction ring wasn’t the one loading me into a trailer at the end of the day. Here’s the story as it was written for part of an article T did for an equine magazine.

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My new herd. Nevada (behind me) and I are still best buds.

 

The man had never been to an auction before and was feeling a bit anxious about the process. He and his wife had come looking for a couple of young “project horses” to add to their herd of old reliables. The first horse in the ring was a little bay roan colt (me!). The man was tempted to place a bid but this was the first horse through (what did I tell you?). It seemed a bit rash. Before he could think too long, the horse was sold, and he recognized a local meat horse buyer. “I should have bid on that roan horse,” he commented to his wife, “I think I should have bid on that horse.” He fretted for the next five or six lots, kicking himself for not bidding on the roan (me!). Suddenly, he was standing, “I’ll be right back.” His wife watched him as he worked his way through the crowd to the dealer who had bought the roan (me!). There was a short exchange of words, a handshake, and he made his way back to his seat, a smile on his face.

In that moment, my fate was changed, all for a $20 bill.

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I think it was my smile they couldn’t resist.

 

Well, I hope to have the chance to tell you more stories from my view of the farm. One of the challenges is that I have to dictate while one of the dogs types (hoof + keyboard = disaster), which means I can’t just pop in whenever I want. I have to be invited.

I hear they’re headed south soon so it’ll likely be spring until you hear from me again, unless I can get my stories sent down to the desert somehow. If you’re thinking I’m upset because I don’t get to go along, not at all. You see, I’m The Accountant around here, and I like things to be the same, the same, the same. But more about that next time.

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I don’t mind the snow at all.