Terri Farley
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January 1

According to Dallas, our foreman, cowboys never retire, but cowponies do. So, today I went to a retirement party for Amigo.

It wasn't really supposed to be a party – Dallas says that's pure nonsense! – but it kind of turned out that way. Amigo got his own stall in the barn. It's a nice cozy box stall all layered with fresh straw, but he hated it. He started kicking and tossing his head around and eventually he was even kicking the walls.

"He's never been much of a barn horse," Dallas admitted.

"Not the pampered sort," Dad said, agreeing with him.

And then Dad and Dallas just stood there, nodding, while Tempest, my sweet black filly, got all excited and started to do the same as Amigo, bucking and kicking as if she couldn't stand the confinement, even though she's spent about half her life in the barn!

"Should we put him back in the pasture?" I asked, but I knew that was no solution.

The main reason Dallas retired Amigo to the barn was because he was afraid the old gelding would have trouble wintering through.

Last week when it was snowing, I noticed Amigo looked different from the other horses.

Penny, Tank, Popcorn, Blue Wings, Ace and all the others, had snow white, but Amigo was all white, from the tips of his ears, to his fetlocks.

It didn't take a genius to figure out why. Even though he's getting plenty of food, Amigo's an old boy and he's just not keeping his weight up and burning off calories, which equals heat, just like I learned in Science class (who would've guessed that knowledge would come in handy with horses?).

"We can't let him get cold," Gram said.

"Or wet," Brynna agreed.

Gram spent about a minute thinking, tapping her index finger against her lips, and then she suggested we move him into one of the smaller stalls with a run-out pen, while she stitched up a solution.

Half an hour later, Amigo's problem was in the past.

Gram had sewn a ripped blue plastic tarp onto an old horse blanket which belonged to Sweetheart, before Gram bought her a fancy new one in New Mexico.

"This way, he'll be warm and waterproof," Gram said, and though I've never wanted to learn to run Gram's sewing machine, I have to admit it was pretty cool the way she whipped up Amigo's new outfit.

Amigo seemed kind of proud of himself, once it was tied on. He trotted to the end of the run-out pen, totally ignoring the rustling plastic, and neighed loud enough that most of the horses on the place paid attention to his announcement.

"Stubborn old cayuse," Dallas said, "doesn't have the sense to go in out of the cold."

I couldn't help noticing that Dallas, who's probably about the same age as Amigo in human years, let his jean jacket with the sheepskin lining hang open over his flannel shirt, while I was shivering, even in my down-filled parka.

I have a feeling Dad noticed, too.

"That horse is just provin' old folks can be free spirits, too," Dad told Dallas, and before Dallas could start fussing at Dad (I could see that stubbornness flaring up in his eyes), I decided it was a good time to pull the apples out of my parka pockets and let Amigo's retirement party begin.