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Horse celebrates 35th birthday

Sherri Spoltman threw a rather unusual birthday party Sunday. The aging birthday boy didn’t want any cake and only sipped on his Grape Crush, but stuck his face in a bowl to crunch down on carrots.

But for those who know Robin, Spoltman’s geriatric Morgan horse, it wasn’t a surprise when about 40 people from across the state showed up to help him celebrate his birthday. There were many teary eyes when Spoltman gave an emotional speech in honor of her beloved friend.

“When you are a little girl you dream of this big black horse that will bring you on these adventures,” she said. “To get this is incredible. ... He’s taken me on adventures beyond belief. ... He’s still the animal I dream about when I go to sleep.”

Robin, whose full name is Welcome Robin Morgan, was actually born 35 years ago, but Jim Spoltman — Sherri’s husband — figured that his horse years equates to 115 human years.

According to Jim, a horse that reaches 25 years old is thought to have lived a long life. Robin, however, didn’t even retire from showing until he was 30.

“He’s one in a million,” she said, adding that Morgan horses — the first American breed — are known for longevity.

Sherri was just 16 years old when she got Robin. At the time, many people questioned why she would want a 14-year-old gelding. Little did anyone realize that the relationship between woman and horse would last 21 years and counting.

“He’s my first love,” she said. “I had him longer than I had my husband.”

At the party, Sherri displayed a memory book of Robin’s show years that was put together when the horse retired five years ago. During his career, Robin was named top 10 at Nationals in three different classes. At age 25, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Region-8 Morgan Horse Club. At 28, he was named reserve champ.

“He’s gotten more blue ribbons than there is to count,” Sherri said.

It may be difficult for those who haven’t had a friendship with a horse to understand the bond between Spoltman and Robin. Jim said he had to “pass muster” with Robin before he could marry Sherri. Luckily, the horse approved.

“He thought I was alright,” he said with a laugh, “as much as he likes anyone other than Sherri.”

Sherri explained that her friends wouldn’t let her bring Robin to her wedding because they were afraid she might ride off. Instead, she spent the entire morning of her wedding day with her four-legged friend in order to drive away the jitters.

Nowadays, the old horse may walk a little slower, but he’s still in remarkably good health. He spends his lazy days of retirement chewing grass and hanging out with his pal, a miniature goat, at the Spoltmans’ North Whidbey farm.

“I give him a kiss on the neck every night,” Sherri said, “and tell him how great it is and how lucky we are that he’s still with us.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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