Happy Birthday to Mr. Appaloosa, George Hatley

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One of my mentors had a birthday last weekend, and he celebrated it the way he has for the last 40-some years--by inviting other horse lovers to his Idaho ranch for a wagon-drive and picnic.

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George Hatley, aka Mr. Appaloosa, reached 85 years of age on this latest milestone, and I sure wouldn't have missed it. George gave me my first job in equine publishing, back in 1975, and has been a dear friend ever since.

The guests--some with teams and wagons, some on saddle horses, others taking seats in the wagons, still others staying back at the starting point in order to prepare food--spent about 3 hours on a relaxing trip through meadows and forested segments on the Hatley ranch. Upon their return, with a worked-up appetite, they feasted on all kinds of homemade treats, birthday cake and ice cream, and home-grown fruit toppings.

When I thanked George for the lovely day (that's him, admiring the cake with 85 spots on it), he thanked ME for taking the time to come. "It wouldn't be much of a party if no one cared to come," he added. Classic George comment.

Here's a selection of photos from Mr. Appaloosa's 85th birthday bash. (Why is George called Mr. Appaloosa? ?Well, that's another whole story!)

P.S. The lovely lady in the fancy hat and dark-red top is my mom, Marie Smith, who was here visiting from North Dakota. She's heard me talk about the annual Hatley Sunday drive for years, and this time she finally got to attend and find out what all the fun is all about.

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