I never knew what a birthday really was 'til one day I witnessed the act. Sure, I knew that kids had birthday parties, and all their friends and relatives would come over, and all of us horsies would get carrots and apples 'til the sun went down or 'til the supplies ran out, whichever came first. I've been to many a birthday party, for young and old.

Horsey rides were a given. The little ones, and of course some big ones, lined up and waited their turn. I got the little ones, bein' the slow, soft-stepper that I am with a back low enough for Mom's arm to wrap around Junior as I walked and they giggled. As if the little one couldn't hold on for himself - they've got a grip like steel when they want to. Why, I remember nearly havin' my front feet lifted off the ground when a tall dad tried to lift a screamin' Junior outta the saddle who didn't want to get off. I coulda sworn I heard the saddle horn rippin' off!

looking on

I glanced around at my buddies and I saw their heads up, ears pricked, and the biggest eyes on them I ever saw. I wondered if mine looked like that too

The bigger and bolder folk think I'm too slow, and like ridin' the bigger, faster horses (but they've never seen me race my buddies across the field - a well-kept secret). Not that I enjoy carryin' that much weight anyway at my age; I'll take a little one anytime. Makes my life easier.

Now back to birthdays - I finally made the connection that a birthday party was a celebration of the day of birth when one of my female buddies gave birth. After months of wonderin' why she got special treatment, a special area to herself at night, and the thickest and plushest shiny yellow hay-like stuff for beddin' I ever saw (I'm from Texas, remember), I saw why.

First, I recollect, I heard her pacin' and pawin', for an unusually long time, disturbin' my dream sleep. I thought, Jeez, just plop down and get comfortable, will ya? She did. Then she got up and did it some more. WHAT is ailin' her? I wondered, peekin' through my eyelids.

"Feelin' kinda colicky?" I nickered, and she gave me a look as if to say, "Mind your own !@#$%&! business and stay away!" Not colic, I thought; maybe cranky mare time. The heck with her; she always picks on me anyway. I stood my ground and tried to go back to sleep. It was 1:00 in the mornin', for Pete's sake.

It was quiet for a few minutes, and she started again. How annoyin', I remember thinkin', and then it happened. She gushed fluid from under her tail and down she went. I watched in horror and wonder as she began to stiffen and grunt louder than I ever heard a buddy grunt. I even moved my feet so I could watch through the gate straight on (okay, I DID back up a step too). I was shocked and bewildered, but she seemed to know just what was happenin', and just what to do, in spite of her obvious pain and discomfort. Her body stiffened, legs a-stretchin' out like quiverin' posts. Another deafenin' grunt, and then she relaxed. Next thing, I hear runnin' footsteps approachin' the barn, and in come my people, carryin' towels and buckets of stuff. Jeez, they heard her all the way to the house! I thought, Good; just in time to help.

Next, I saw this protrusion from under her tail. Oh, my, what DID she eat? I glanced around at my other buddies, and I saw their heads up, ears pricked, and the biggest eyes on them I ever saw. I wondered if mine looked like that too. This ain't gonna be pretty - oh, I don't wanna look, I don't wanna look. But I did - I was riveted. The whitish, wet shiny thing that came out was ENORMOUS. My person touched it, and peeled somethin' away. I couldn't even blink. She pulled her arm back and watched a moment. Suddenly, and I nearly jumped ten feet, IT moved. Wet and shiny, I could make out that it had fuzz. It moved again, and then, as it nickered the tiniest, softest, sweetest little gentle sound, I could see that it was a tiny horse head.


It wasn't until that moment that I really knew what a birthday meant.

Wheh-eh-eh-eh-eh-ell, son of a gun! Or rather, daughter of a buddy! I was so caught up in the moment that I don't remember who it was that answered her first, besides her mother, but then the whole bunch of us chimed in. WOW. It wasn't until that moment that I really knew what a birth-day meant. I'm not sure that I ever bothered to wonder where we came from. My colthood is a very dim memory in MY mind, after all these years.

This month, in April, my buddies, my people, and I will celebrate my birthday. I'm very fortunate and proud to say that this year I will be 43. Or is it 44? Each year it gets harder to figger. 40-somethin', anyway. Happy birthday to me!

And I want lots of good pets and scratches in my favorite places, and fresh carrots, nice and slender with the tops on, and apples cut into eighths, and a few hours ALONE in the plush yard grass, and a sunny day, and I wanna ride the fastest pony, and and and.