Boy was I surprised when I pulled into the stable this morning, intending only to saddle up my trusty steed, Chubby, for a morning ride through the snowy woods (for a story about how I came to own Chubby, see "A Horse Of My Own"). Instead, I saw horses and people gathered in the barnyard around a small wooden table on which sat a gorgeous three-layer cake, complete with carrots sticking out of the frosting like so many candles. As I emerged from my car, horse owner and fellow boarder at Baltimore County’s Gaitaway Stables (www.gaitawaystables.com), Carrie Cross, exclaimed with delight that it was her horse’s birthday. Midnight, a beautiful black quarter horse, was turning 13. Carrie beckoned me to join the festivities.
Far be it for me to miss out on any opportunity for a party, so I joined the group around the table: Carrie, her mother, Terri, who baked the cake, Carrie's daughters Hailey and Emily, along with their little friend, Alexis, plus Carrie’s good friend, Emily, the stable owner, Trina, and Trina's full time staffer, Liz. We stood huddled in the cold and watched intently as Midnight sniffed at her confection.
|Everyone gathers for Midnight's|
Midnight, whom Carrie purchased on Craig’s list a little more than a year ago, was an abused and neglected animal when she came into Carrie’s possession. Now, awash in pink and purple accessories (even the water bucket in her stall is pink), Midnight is living the life of Riley. She has put on weight, regained her health, and is slathered with affection on a regular basis by Carrie and her daughters.
|Carrie slices Midnight's cake|
Carrie drew a silver carving knife and carefully cut a large slice of cake. She held it out to Midnight. Cameras and cell phones popped like so many paparazzi. Alas, the mare’s taste apparently does not include cream-cheese frosting. Midnight would not have anything to do with her birthday cake. After multiple tries, Carrie reluctantly concluded that Midnight simply was not going to participate, carrot cake or not. The rest of the farm’s mares, all hanging their heads over a fence nearby, were another story, however. Carrie offered the piece of cake to Tennessee Walking horse, Lulu, and her filly, Lily. Both mares eagerly took the chunks from Carrie’s outstretched hand. They seemed to relish the morsels. Nearby, Emily fed carrots to her thoroughbred mare, Jazzy.
|Carrie tempts Midnight with carrot cake|
Carrie sliced the rest of the cake and handed a piece to each of us. Carrot cake is one of my all-time favorite flavors and this cake was absolutely delicious, a recipe, Terri said, which has been passed down through generations in her family.
|Emily plants a smooch on Jazzy|
It made quite a picture, the bunch of us, standing around a small, wooden table, eating carrot cake outdoors in the dead of winter, singing happy birthday to a horse. Consider that the temperature outside was only 25-degrees Fahrenheit and snow threatened at any moment.
Horse lovers would understand.