|The birthday twins!
When my family first bought Stoney as a flashy, full-of-potential two-year-old, I had no idea that twenty-one years later I’d be welcoming another daughter on his birthday. When he should have been stuffing his face with carrots and getting brushed, I was in the hospital. Some people might be annoyed that they have to share their birthdays with someone else. Not Stoney and definitely not Zoey.
Also, Jack tells me I should stop referring to animals as “people.” Technically, yes, but that’s the kind of relationship we have with animals, especially my own.
The grays growing around his ears and eyes are distinguishing and the sway of his long back has put him in permanent retirement, except for very lightweight children. His feet are prone to abscess, and he’s already missing a few key teeth to help him chew. Little by little, he’s becoming an old man.
|Somebody likes their alfalfa and sweet feed mash.
It’s not all doom and gloom, waiting for the end for Stoney. It’s just a different journey we’re on together. I think sometimes I spend more quality time with Stoney as he’s aged than other years because I have to soak his aching feet and keep him blanketed when the weather gets chilly. He gets mash when the green grass isn’t growing, and when the pastures are flourishing, he gets priority grazing rights.
Stoney often reminds me to enjoy the simple things in life (although not verbally, because if a horse was talking to me, I’d be concerned). Like getting a cool bath on a hot day, so he can go out back and roll around in the mud and get all filthy again because the dirt sticks better when you’re wet. Sigh and eye roll from me. Whatever makes you happy, dude.
His stomach rules most of his decision making, as it does most horses. Even on days Stoney feels indifferent to me, I can change his mind really quickly by rattling a scoop of sweet feed and he’ll change his tune. Of course, once I dump it in his bucket, all bets are off and he’ll probably pin his ears and tell me to go away because he’s not sharing. Another sigh and eye roll from me. Whatever, dude. I don’t like sweet feed, anyway.
He also reminds me never to waste an opportunity when it presents itself. He might be out all day long, stuffing himself on the pasture, but when I’m taking him back inside and he sees a lush patch of red clover growing by the barn, he forgets all manners I ever taught him, drops his head, and hurries to take the last few mouthfuls of food. He can’t help himself and at this age, when I don’t know if I’ll get another year with him, I’ve stopped trying to stop him.
I am completely, totally, utterly aware how blessed I’ve been, not only to have one horse, but a bajillion other animals, and that my first I’ve been with until death do we part. It’s a special and unique bond–not quite a child, but still family. One of my best friends, though he’s never said a word, and getting to witness almost the entire arc of his life while mine is so different than it was when we first got him. I love the big guy, despite the fact that he basically behaves like a 1,500lb toddler. I’m hoping for a few more years with him, too, but whenever we have to say our au dieus at his passing, I’m so happy for the many, many years that we’ve shared and the journey it’s taken us on.
So, Happy 26th Birthday, Big Guy!
(Stick around for a couple more years and we’ll throw a big 30th birthday bash, ‘kay?)