I got woke up from a good sun nap in the warm, soft sand after a cold, rainy County Island mornin. The bucket gal was kinda rude about it, too. “Get up, Whiskey! Come on, get up!” she clapped at me, wavin my halter and rope to and fro near my hind end. Only she wasn’t even dressed in her ridin clothes yet, only her fancy, might melt if horse snot touched ‘em not-ridin people-clothes. So I failed to understand the hurry. She wasn’t ready to do nothin useful, nor was I. That’s when it’s good to be a retired mostly retired pet pleasure horse, when ya get to say, hold on, I ain’t ready to move just yet. It’s helps if you’re old and wise in your years, too.
After a moment, I moved. Damn, the cold made my old joints stiff, but I got up and I loped off a few steps to reacquaint my bones with my blood flow. Then I allowed her to halter me since she still seemed set on it.
She led me over to the corral fence rail, where Original Coors and Coors Light had already planted hooves to grow roots, and was bein stuffed full of cookies and carrots by a whole lotta people. There was the carrot guy dispensin the carrots to ‘em all, and some big folks I know cordially, and some little folks too, and a real nice lady who sounded like our own sweet-talkin but evil vet lady, only she didn’t smell evil that day, and her normal rumbly-truck wasn’t parked out back by the barn where it goes when she means to do us some kinda veterinary harm such as poke us and prod us, or knock us out cold.
It was a suspicious amount of folks. And they stuffed us horses with treats at an alarmin rate, which was fine by us but for the suspicious part.
Then the bucket gal said, OK, on the count of three, go… one, two, three…! And even though I stood still and quiet, I wondered if I ought to gather my hocks under me to get outta Dodge quick if they aimed to stampede us?
They began to neigh at us, as far as people can neigh, and then all together came their words in a real loud discordant song-birdy rhythm, when a song-bird ain’t well and sings off-key but is still real happy to be alive and able to sing at all:
Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you,
Happy 30th birthday, dear Whis-keeeeeeeee…
Happy birthday to you!
Birthday? I tried to recall what it was like the day when I met my dam for the first time, but that picture seemed faded. It didn’t feel like that day fell durin the cold time, maybe later in the grass and sunshine when she and I and the herd walked all across the wildflowery hills. Was it my birthday that day? Did it matter if it was my birthday that day? Why was County Island people so obsessed with a horse’s birthday? Maybe it was my birthday. But 30th? I tried to count all the seasons I’d known, but horses don’t care much for countin pointless things. Maybe I counted up 30 seasons, who knew?
That’s when I realized I had somethin set upon my head, other than my halter, ‘cause Original Coors gave me a look. It was one of those people-holiday decorative headgear things we got to wear sometimes on the County Island, such as devil horns and Santa Claus hats. I still don’t know what it was, but it seemed to make everyone real happy. I reckon it was related to my birthday.
There was much pettin of us and scratchin at our itches, when the treat train finally left the station for good, and happy talkin and laughin. Then the bucket gal declared it to be time for somethin called “cake,” which did not sound like it involved horses. I was unhaltered, and hugged tight, which was warm and nice but also unnecessary. Coors Light said “cake” was like the “cupcakes” the bucket gal had tried to feed us one time, on the occasion of her own birthday. A cupcake smells like a sweet, sweet palo verde flower, but tastes – pardon my french – like cowshit. But the bucket gal likes ‘em.
They dispersed to the people-barn for “cake,” I guess, and me, Coors and Coors Light dispersed back to bein horses.
So that’s what it’s like to be a horse who’s 30. It’s no big deal, but ya do get more treats than normal. And it makes the people happy. Like I always say, happy people make for happy horses, so what’s good for all of them is alright by me.