November 23, 2014

He’s coming…

Silver Charm in his racing days. Photo by Laura Battles.

Silver Charm in his racing days. Photo by Laura Battles.

Excitement is rising at Old Friends – and we’re very busy! – as we prepare for the arrival of 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm at the end of the month. If you missed the news, here’s the original announcement in the Blood-Horse.

As most readers of this blog probably know, Silver Charm will not be available for visits immediately. Like Game On Dude and Amazombie a few months ago, he will be in quarantine. We take the safety precaution of quarantine very seriously and will enforce it. Here’s our barn manager, Tim Wilson, explaining why quarantine is so important Tim starts at 1:05, but don’t skip Dude and Amazombie (or the end)!

But soon as quarantine is over and the 1997 Derby and Preakness winner has had a chance to settle in comfortably, we have all kinds of fun in the works. We hope you’ll come visit Silver Charm and participate in the other celebratory events with us! Keep your eye on the OF web site, Facebook page and this blog for more information.

Silver Charm’s upcoming arrival, and Ava Lotta Hope’s unexpected going from us, have combined for me in good memories and warm thoughts of another mare we loved and remember with fondness, smiles, and gratitude for the happy times she shared with us:  Silver Charm’s mother, the tough-knocking race horse, superlative dam, and lovely, lovely lady, Bonnie’s Poker (1982-2010). It’s prompted me to go back into my old photos and I’d like to share a few pictures of her during her years at Old Friends. They’re not up to Laura’s standards, just snapshots, but I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Beth

Bonnie's Poker, dam of Silver Charm, at OF, May 2009

Bonnie’s Poker, dam of Silver Charm, at OF, May 2009

Bonnie's Poker and her best friend, Narrow Escape, enjoy the first snowfall of winter, 2008

Bonnie’s Poker and her best friend, Narrow Escape, enjoy the first snowfall of winter, 2008

Bonnie in the snow, another winter

Bonnie in the snow, another winter

And another piccie, same day

And another pic, same day

Bonnie and Narrow Escape enjoy a mutual scratch,

Bonnie and Narrow Escape enjoy a mutual scratch,

Bonnie in October 2008

Bonnie in October 2008

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November 20, 2014

I hoped to post a blog following Johannesbourbon’s journey from race horse to well-adjusted member of one of our gelding herds, a happy story typical of many of Old Friends’ gelding residents. That post will follow soon. First, I must share some more sad news. One of our sweetest mares, Ava Lotta Hope, died on Monday. She went unexpectedly, but peacefully, of apparent heart failure. She was 27 years old.

Ava Lotta Hope was a daughter of Graustark’s Belmont winner son, Avatar. Her dam, Hope Is Special, was by Broadway Forli. Hope raced 18 times and won a maiden claiming race at Charles Town and a claiming race at Delaware Park. She also got 3 seconds and a third and lifetime earnings of $8,712 for owner Stoney Run Farm and trainer Donald Saville. In Virginia, Hope was dam to 4 winners, two with earnings of over $100K, but she was not a highly successful broodmare and by 2005 she was at an adoption facility looking for a home. With two other mares, Magic Dot and Hidden Dark, Hope found temporary residences until the three mares came to Old Friends in 2009.

Ava Lotta Hope (forefround) and Magic Dot, 2009

Ava Lotta Hope (foreground) and Magic Dot, 2009

For much of her retirement at Old Friends, Ava Lotta Hope was fortunate to receive the loving care of Luann Burton, as did Hidden Dark and Magic Dot. Magic Dot passed in 2011. Hidden Dark is living at Dream Chase, the main Kentucky farm. In spring 2014, Hope was the lucky girl chosen as 1997 Older Female Champion Hidden Lake’s special companion. The two shared a tree-sheltered paddock of their own and Hope enjoyed that quiet lifestyle. She formed two other important bonds, with assistant barn manager Carole Oates, who manages the nutrition so beneficial to the oldest residents, and with volunteer John Bradley, who groomed and gave her plenty of praise and petting. Since John was closest to Hope, I’ll end with the words he wants to share about her.

Beth

Hope and John last Saturday. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Hope and John last Saturday. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Hope and John last Saturday. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Hope and John last Saturday. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Hope wasn’t big or flashy, she never left her mark on the racing world. However, she was sweet, kind, with the soul of an angel. If you spend much time around horses you quickly realize you don’t choose them, they choose you. I was honored she chose me as her friend. I think our friendship made her paddock mate, Hidden Lake, a little jealous even though she has her own special person, Old Friends board member and volunteer Barbara Fossum. A memory that will stay with me always is how Hope would rest her head on my shoulder while I was brushing her mane. I felt that was her way of saying “thank you for being here for me.” Hope was loved by all farm staff and volunteers, especially assistant farm manager Carole Oates, but she was also special to me. Time will heal the hurt and sadness I’m feeling now, but it can’t erase the love and admiration I will always have for her. Goodbye Hope, I will always miss you, but will never forget you.

John

Ava Lotta Hope, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Ava Lotta Hope, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

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November 11, 2014

This weekend we were saddened by the loss of Max A Million. On Saturday morning Max showed colic symptoms. Dr. Bryan Waldridge quickly administered treatment and Sallee generously spared a van from their full sales schedule to rush Max to the hospital. Max A Million did everything right. No horse could have tried with a steadier, more cooperative determination to survive. Though horse and humans worked hard together, the efforts to save his life did not succeed.

Max A Million, a 14 year old gelded son of Jules out of King’s Sweetest by Rollicking, was stakes placed. He ran third in the 2004 Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes and held his own on the track for years. When his racing days were over, Topcat Stables and Francis Vitale did right by the horse who had campaigned his whole career for them and ensured his future. Max A Million came to Old Friends in 2008. He lived at the main Kentucky farm.

Max was a compact bay, not flashy, not big, but handsome. He came as close to the perfect resident as any Old Friends has ever had. He was always kind, always willing and beautifully behaved. Oh, one time he was a little bad when he joined his best buddy Discreet Hero in pestering A. P. Slew. Just once in all his six years with us. Day in and day out, Max A Million was a sociable citizen of his herd and a total pleasure to be around.

He and Discreet Hero were always fast friends, and when Max colicked it was Discreet Hero who stood by him until help arrived. Hero is not the only one who will miss Max. In his many good days of retirement and in his final hours, Max A Million showed unfailing heart and kindness. We will all miss him.

Beth

Max a Million 090605-02

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October 28, 2014

I try not to blog about myself. It’s the horses who matter and they are the reason anybody follows this blog. But winter is coming, and Ogygian is 31. He’s happy and comfortable, his appetite is great and he enjoys the things he likes. But since 31 for a Thoroughbred is something like 100 for a human, there are some words I want to say now, while all is well. They’ve personal, but I think they also go to the core of what Old Friends is for, and what goes on behind the scenes when a particular volunteer and a particular horse form a bond. Ogygian and I are only one bond among several strong human-and-horse bonds at Old Friends’ Kentucky and New York locations.

I met Ogygian not long after he arrived in 2005. I’d been a fan of his sire, Damascus, and I’d visited Damascus’ sire, Sword Dancer when he was at stud in Kentucky (though in the ’59 Derby I favored A. P. Slew’s great-grandmother-to-be, Silver Spoon). More recently I’d fallen in love with the exceptional juvenile champion Johannesburg, so I was eager to meet Damascus’ son, Johannesburg’s damsire, Ogygian. He’d been through hard times and was having ups and downs in health and wasn’t yet the strong, muscular, entitled, manipulative, bossy “herd stallion” we’ve known and loved for so long now. But his dignity and presence touched me deeply and I began falling in love.

Ogygian April 2010, photo by Connie Bush

Ogygian April 2010, photo by Connie Bush

At the end of my first day volunteering in July 2006, I hung out by Ogygian’s paddock just to enjoy the sight of him grazing, but he came over and made it clear he was interested in interaction. We began our friendship that day. It’s been a long, eventful one, and I hope there’s still plenty more to come. I’ve been fortunate to become a regular companion, to groom him, play with him, help take care of him. We have as many routines, games and private references as two people would come to share in nearly a decade. He’s so smart it’s scary. And wise, which is a different thing. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years. He’s good at pushing people’s buttons and I admit he pushes mine. And vice versa. Now, as we approach winter, I admit here (as I don’t admit to him) that though vet checks show he’s healthy, at his age, winter is scary. For me, that is. Ogygian is, as he’s always been, fearless. So, here is what it’s like in the evening when I bring Ogygian the special second dinner Dr. Waldridge and our barn management recommends.

Ogygian often meets me at the gate, and as we have long done, we race each other to his feed tub. It’s a trot these days, but Ogygian makes sure he wins. As he eats I feel his body-scoring points through the winter coat he’s growing, hoping for the weight gain that I’m gradually noticing happening. More padding against the cold, please, sir! But the checking dissolves into the enjoyment of a massage, and my enjoyment of the plush fuzziness of the healthy, thick winter coat he’s growing. He enjoys the alfalfa and beet pulp mash I’ve “cooked” him, and we enjoy being together. I lean on him, he leans into me. I scratch his neck, he moves until I’m where he wants me.

It’s often the most gorgeous time of sunset. The sky and landscape stretch wide and beautiful from the vantage of Ogygian’s paddock. Sunsets tend to be spectacular there. It may sound like a cliche to say each day is a gift, but I’m always aware how true it is. Having Ogygian in my life, and being able to make his life happier, is a bigger gift than I ever imagined all those years I followed favorite race horses at the track and visited favorite stallions at the farms. I can’t afford a graded stakes winner and thought admiring them from a distance was the closest I’d ever get to any horse I’ve followed and admired. Ogygian is one of the great ones. On the track, as a broodmare sire, and just in himself. For me he has become the sum of all that’s magnificent about the Thoroughbred. I tell him so. Often.

Ogygian September 2014, by Laura

Ogygian September 2014, by Laura

Ogygian's eye, photo by Beth

Ogygian’s eye, photo by Beth

Ogygian and me. By Laura?

Ogygian and me. By Laura?

Ogygian mugs on his 29th birthday. Photo by Beth

Ogygian mugs on his 29th birthday. Photo by Beth

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September 25, 2014

Fall is coming early to the Blue Grass. Only two days after the Equinox, the weather feels more like the end of October than September, but the crisp, clear air is refreshing and the horses love the cooler temperatures. The horses who have moved from satellite locations to the new pastures have settled in comfortably. Geri likes his paddock near the front where he can work the tours for treats. He’s friendly and good at his new job. Black Tie Affair’s grandson Count the Gold and Regal Sanction have taken to each other; the two geldings now share digs next to Regal’s old paddock on Dream Chase Farm’s “back 40.” 1997 Older Female Champion, Hidden Lake, now loves sharing a paddock with Ava Lotta Hope. Commentator and Fabulous Strike and Marshall Rooster have adopted Escapedfromnewyork and he’s never been happier.

The busy summer season is pretty much over. We’re looking ahead to October and the Keeneland meet, always a fun time for reunions and making new friends. For now, the farm is kinda peaceful, a time to enjoy the little pleasures of daily routines.

For our older residents, and some others our vets and barn management have determined can benefit the most, one of the daily pleasures is supplements. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients and joint lubricants? Fun?

The "old geezers' special," Succeed, LubrySin, a little Triple Crown Senior Feed, and lots of carrots. Doesn't it look scrumptious?

The “old geezers’ special,” Succeed, LubrySin, a little Triple Crown Senior Feed, and lots of carrots. Doesn’t it look scrumptious?

You bet, when they’re flavored like molasses and apples, mixed with a little yummy feed, and spiced with delicious carrots!

Ogygian peeks out of his run-in shed. "Did I hear "Groodle"?

Ogygian peeks out of his run-in shed. “Did I hear “Groodle”?

 

Creator comes for his (my Matt Wooley wannabe photo).

Creator comes for his (my Matt Wooley wannabe photo).

 

Mixed Pleasure usually races the golf cart to his feed tub.

Mixed Pleasure usually races the golf cart to his feed tub.

Thanks to the generosity of Succeed, LubriSyn and various volunteers, we receive enough supplements each month for two delivery routes, one handled by barn staff and one by volunteers. Every volunteer who does supplements has their own delivery style, which probably adds to the entertainment for the horses. My style is to drive up in the golf cart and call “Groodle!” as I put the exact mixture recommended for that individual horse in his feed tub (Is that a word? My family says “groodle,” never “snack.”) Not only Mixed Pleasure, but Gulch, Ogygian and Swan’s Way often come at a canter. Others, like You and I, tend to respond with studied dignity, but everybody enjoys supplements.

Yum! Creator, Johannesbourbon (look at that contented eye), Kiri's Clown, Gulch (with flash - twilight was setting in by then).

Yum! Creator, Johannesbourbon (look at that contented eye), Kiri’s Clown, Gulch (the weird color in Gulch’s is the camera’s flash – twilight was setting in by then).

Geri is 22. He’ll be a candidate for the “geezers’ special,” or whatever variation is best for him, in a few years. Star Plus just thinks he should be on all deliveries of anything and everything. Those who don’t get supplements often get a few carrots as a consolation prize.

"Where's mine?" Geri and Star Plus.

“Where’s mine?” Geri and Star Plus.

If Old Friends was rich, the Dream Chase Farm crew would probably be giving the supplements recommended by our vets to the entire farm population. As it is, we’re grateful for the assistance we get. Just about every horse on the supplements program shows a little extra bloom, a little extra gleam in the eye. And that’s what it’s all about.

Beth

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August 7, 2014

Whee! Northern Stone.

Whee! Northern Stone.

We get a lot of interesting visitors at Old Friends, and this past Saturday the Central Kentucky Camera Club came out with their cameras, lenses, and tripods. For once, I felt right at home leading a tour with my own camera around my neck. It was supposed to be a normal tour around the farm with maybe a few extra cameras snapping for the horses.

Sarava wants carrots

Sarava

Sarava immediately gave everyone a chance to practice getting action shots as he walked, then trotted, then galloped across his paddock for carrots! He graciously posed for the clicking shutters of everyone’s cameras. Rail Trip was next and he came over at a full run. He paced the fence as the cameras chattered away and struck several noble poses. I wonder if he thought he was back at the track with all the cameras going off.

Rail Trip strikes a pose.

Rail Trip strikes a pose.

Wandering up the hill photographing anything that moved—or didn’t—the sunny skies started getting dark, providing a great backdrop for Creator photos.

Creator

Creator

We had just enough time to visit (and photograph) Ogygian, Dan and Flick, and Delay of Game before the skies opened and everyone dashed to the big barn to keep dry. Luckily, the Old Friends ambassador, Little Silver Charm, was in the big barn and ready to come out and greet the guests—as long as we had carrots. His tail was photographed, as were his ears and mane. Even his bucket of carrots got a close-up. I’m not sure there was anything in the barn that was NOT photographed!

Meanwhile, Rapid Redux was putting on a show of his own, dashing around his paddock in the pouring rain, approaching his run in shed carefully, then dashing in out of the rain, only to fly out again a few minutes later.

In a matter of minutes, our dry, dusty farm was turned into a mud pit. As the rain moved away, a cool breeze blew through the farm. After the heat of the morning, it was quite refreshing. The horses thought so, too.

Boys will be boys and we had a ton of them in our viewfinders. Mud and geldings—need I say more? First we were treated to synchronized rolling by Futural and Sea Native in their paddock. But Rapid Redux just could not stand to be ignored. He raced around his paddock, dropped to roll, then leaped up and bucked his way around his paddock. Some of the photographers noticed that the big paddock on our new annex had a lot of active horses and headed over to see what was going on, camera shutters flying.

Rapid Redux has a roll.

Rapid Redux has a roll.

This new, large paddock contains the horses that lived in two paddocks on the “back 40″ of the farm for several years. Seeing all these horses that I have known for a long time horsing around and being horses—well—it really touched my heart. Included in this herd are Cherono, Kudos, Ball Four, Bonapaw, Affirmed Success, Boule d’Or, Northern Stone, Mikethespike, and Lion Hunter. I know I am forgetting a couple of the boys, but they really put on a show for the cameras.

Mike the Spike

Mike the Spike

A lot of paddock shuffling has been going on since the new paddocks were added and the remainder of the “back 40″ was finally fenced. As our old “back 40″ herds moved to the new paddocks, horses that have been at some of our satellite locations now live on our main farm’s “back 40.” Also, Eclipse champion mare Hidden Lake, moved from the big mare paddock, starting a two-mare herd of her own with Ava Lotta Hope.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

When asked why she wanted a different paddock, Miss Lake replied that those geldings in the back paddocks were partying all night and she just could not get her beauty sleep. Some of these new boys who have come from satellite locations and can now be visited in the back or side paddocks at Dream Chase include Tinner’s son Riva Way, Cappucino Kid, Diamond Stripes and Ukiah, 1999 Canadian Horse of the Year Thornfield, and 2002 Derby runners Easy Grades and Lusty Latin. No wonder there’s so much partying.

So to set the stage, imagine a bunch of little boys who have been cooped up inside. Suddenly, they are let outside en masse to burn off some energy—in the mud. That is the sight that greeted the camera club as we reached the big paddock. All the horses were at the fence, a couple of them wrestling and trying to take off each other’s halters. Others were rolling in the mud then leaping up to run around. Cherono decided that he should just rear repeatedly. Show off! Kudos had a really good roll and then decided to just lie there for a while watching all the other kids at play. It seemed like there was a protective circle around him as horses dashed every which way, Cherono was still rearing, and Kudos was just watching it all—then it was time to roll some more and leap up. Suddenly, all of the horses took off and scattered across the paddock. It looked like the show was over, so we began to head back to the main part of the farm.

Cherono rears.

Cherono rears.

Cherono rears some more. Ball Four watches.

Cherono rears some more. Ball Four watches.

But wait—far across the paddock an impromptu race formed. Cherono took the early lead, with Lion Hunter, Bonapaw and Ball Four bunched right behind him in the first flight. The others bided their time several lengths back. Rounding the turn, Bonapaw made a menacing move to draw even with Cherono, but Lion Hunter blew the turn and carried Bonapaw to the outside rail. Down the stretch and it was Cherono and Ball Four running head and head over the rolling track. Cherono was leaping and bucking alongside Ball Four as Kudos made up a little ground. With a sudden surge, Ball Four put his head in front just as they crossed the finish. Lion Hunter flew home to catch Kudos for the third spot. Bonapaw was fifth. What a race!

And the race is on!

And the race is on!

Once the field was across the finish, they paraded in front of the crowd for more photographs. Finally, the show was over.

While all that excitement was going on over in the side paddock, Mixed Pleasure was calmly grazing in his own paddock next door. I think he was keeping an eye on the youngsters. Even after all the victory carrots had been handed out, there were still some shredded carrots for Mixed Pleasure. Luckily, I had saved a few carrots or else Gulch, who also came over to visit, would have been very disappointed and let us know his displeasure. Sarava tried to convince us that we had not visited him yet. The camera club was wise to him, but he did manage to snag a carrot from Gulch’s share!

Cherono, Ball Four & Kudos

Cherono, Ball Four & Kudos

Finally, the camera club’s three hour tour was over. Just in time, since the weather started getting rough, but we all made it back to the office where Buddy was sprawled on the dry front porch to welcome us back.

Welcome back.

Welcome back.

 

post and photos by Laura

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July 23, 2014

More about baths. Yes, we like our baths at Dream Chase Farm. Not just the unexpected baths when Special Ring or Popcorn Deelites splatters an unsuspecting tour from their favorite rain puddle. And not just the accidental baths we get when we clean the horses’ waterers enthusiastically. Or even the green and orange baths that occasionally spray Danthebluegrassman’s visitors when Dan eats his carrots (and Flick’s too, if can get them) too fast and eagerly. Our favorite baths, horse and human alike, are when we help relieve the heat and itchies of a hot, humid day like today has been, by giving a horse a refreshing shower.

We now have a bathing station at the back of the small barn and another one in front of the big barn for conveniently and safely treating the minor injuries and localized infections common with horses, and of course, for easy, enjoyable baths. Even those who don’t like sloshing water—for instance, Ogygian who has refused sponge baths for years, welcome the gentle spray from a hose, shampoo, and then you may use a sponge, thank you—that was a routine part of the intensive care and attention they got when they were young race horses and breeding horses. Most of our residents let us know they’re happy with the freedom of retirement, but most still enjoy getting familiar, pleasurable attentions.

 

Ogygian liked his bath better than getting his picture taken. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Ogygian liked his bath better than getting his picture taken. Photo by Tim Wilson.

 

Wallenda gets a bath. Photo by John Bradley.

Wallenda gets a bath. Photo by John Bradley.

Wallenda’s thriving despite old ligament and hoof issues is a testament to the excellent care he’s received our podiatrist, vets, staff, and most of all his own toughness and intelligence. He gets turn-out time every day that weather permits, but he must spend more time in a stall than most. For him, especially, a little jaunt out of the barn for a bath can make a hot day pleasurable.

Beth

Oh, y-e-s-s-s-s!

Oh, y-e-s-s-s-s!

 

Shower water is fun to drink, too. Photo by John Bradley.

Shower water is fun to drink, too. Photo by John Bradley.

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July 17, 2014

Prized1Prized

Apologies for a month and a half of silence. More has been going on this summer than ever before. Volunteer responsibilities, and our need for volunteers, have grown. We’re all working hard. Fortunately, there’s the newsletter, Viv has steadfastly reported on Facebook, and we’re excited that some of our horses have taken to Twitter. You can follow the tweets of Afternoon Deelites, the pithy comments of Little Silver Charm, and blasts from our residents’ pasts from farm historian Rail Trip. OF’s communications have never been so plentiful and timely. Still, a blog’s leisurely reflections have their place too, and I regret that I’ve fallen behind. I’ll post some brief notes over the next weeks to catch up.

But first, and most important, some words about Prized, for whom no words are adequate.  When he passed last Sunday at 28 years old, he’d had mobility issues for some time. That is, his hindquarters slowly lost the ability and strength to respond to his will. On Sunday morning he couldn’t get up, and Michael and Dr. Bryan Waldridge made the only kind decision left to make.

You can read about Prized’s accomplishments in his obituary, or the articles in the Daily Racing Form and Blood-Horse, how he outran Sunday Silence in the 1989 Swaps Stakes, how he won that year’s Breeder’s Cup Turf in his first ever start on grass. Let’s see any horse equal that feat. How he sired the grand old gelding Brass Hat and was damsire of Paddy O’Prado, Romance Is Diane and this year’s Oaks winner Untapable, who just may be the best 3 year old in America.

To that I can’t add much, but I want to share a little about my last weeks with Prized. I’m not the main person, or the only one, who helped take care of him in his final months. The part I played was relatively small. Several people contributed much to Prized’s quality of life at the end, giving him baths that cheered him up, making sure he got the extra attention he wanted, lunches from a hand-held bucket that encouraged him to eat, and the excellent, excellent medical care that enabled him to hang in there and enjoy some of the horsey pleasures of life as long as he could.

Because that’s what stallions do. Most are hardy stoics. They don’t show weakness, and they don’t give up until the very end. From his arrival in summer 2011, I was struck by Prized’s sturdy, long-legged physique and his independent nobility. He wasn’t a cuddler. He was a bit aloof, a bit tough. When you fed him a carrot he’d often get in a second nip on your palm, just to show you he could. But horses, like humans, are complicated, and Prized threw toughness to the winds when a good scratch was in the offing. Few on the farm got into a back scratch like he did, or made such funny faces of pure scratch-ecstasy.

But even when he played along in the impromptu Easter evening “races” (blog entry April 20, 2013), and even though he often ran and trotted just because he wanted to, he ran sort of diagonally.

Prized was on our supplements program. The manufacturers of Succeed and LubriSyn, excellent digestive and joint supplements, generously donate enough for some dozen horses to be on daily regimens as recommended by our vets. Most of those horses (the oldest ones, a few with special needs) have put on muscle, gloss and happier spirits than ever. Less so, Prized. His appetite was failing. The hand-held bucket lunches, and extra attention involved, helped his interest in food, but as the old athlete’s physical abilities deserted him, he was sometimes depressed and didn’t always eat the supplements that would help his strength and joint mobility.

Staff and volunteers divide the daily supplement preparation and delivery, and I do supplements for designated horses 3 times a week. I mix the particular supplement combination for each horse with a little feed, warm water for some, and carrots (or fruit, for Creator) to make it a treat. Most of the horses on the program come running when I call out the arrival of their “groodle.” I put it in feed tubs that are usually empty, dinner having been served hours earlier. Too often, Prized’s tub was still fairly full of feed, and he’d look, but not come for his treat. Maybe he’d come eat it later, but sometimes not.

So I made it the main business of each supplements delivery to get him to eat the nutrients and joint help that would boost his energy and mobility. I’d coax him over, a carrot or two for a step or two. Since walking was sometimes difficult for him, I put it in a bucket and took it to where he was in the paddock. I’d stay talking to him and stroking his neck till he finished, since he seemed to like those little extra signs of companionship. As Prized’s body failed him, his pride never waned, but he let us know he wanted our company and caring. In return, he gave us trust and kindness.

His last weeks, Prized had an upswing. He trotted over to see people or get meals. He waited near his feed tub when he saw meals or supplements coming. It was his little game to keep eating his “groodle” for as long as I kept an arm around his neck, or rubbed his forehead and talked to him. It was a stallion thing. He had me where humans belong, at his beck and call. Sometimes he’d eat down past the supplement to finish his dinner, too.

My care for Prized wasn’t different from the care some of his other friends gave him. Others did more for him in his last months, and I expect he gave all of us gifts we will never forget. When a horse as proud and noble as Prized lets you in, you can’t help loving him. You can’t help entering his time, where past and future don’t matter. There’s only the moment. I’m grateful to Prized for the moments he let me share with him.

Last week the time came that we’d been dreading. His activity and spirits ebbed. It got harder to coax him to eat. The attention and loving seemed to matter, maybe more than ever, but you could see in his eyes that the will to keep fighting was gone.

On Sunday morning, Prized couldn’t get up. He tried, but he just couldn’t. He let us know his time had come. Prized went in peace. Before he did, he raised his head, had himself a last farewell nibble of good grass, then laid his head down again. He’d had a good and long life. He’d done more than anyone can expect or hope from a horse. And at the end, Prized know how much he was prized.

 

Here’s Prized winning the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Beth

photos by Laura

Prized2

Prized3

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May 26, 2014

Memorial Day at Old Friends is always bittersweet. It’s hard to say goodbye to the horses who have passed during the year, but it’s comforting share memories with others who loved them. In some ways, every day caring for retired horses is about taking the bitter with the sweet. wishing nobody had the aches and pains of old age. Remembering them as young athletes or vigorous middle aged stallions and wishing he had good tendons again, or she could run carefree as the wind, or he could still see with both eyes, yet enjoying each of their pleasures in the secure retirement they so much deserve, and being thankful for whatever part you play—and so many people contribute in some many ways—to keep them secure and happy.

So, you wake up, steel yourself for what you know will be a hard yet comforting day, only to learn it will be harder than you dreamed. Early this morning Clever Allemont, our 32 year old hero and survivor, had to be euthanized. Had he been younger and less frail, surgery would have been an option, but because of Clever’s extreme age, along with the increased chance old age brings of fatal complications, attempting major surgery would not have been kind. All Michael and our team of vets could do was return some of the kindness to Clever Allemont that he gave us so generously for years.

Clever Allemont. Photo by Laura Battles.

Clever Allemont. Photo by Laura Battles.

Five and a half years, to be precise. Borrowed time, some would say. A triumph of love over greed, I call Clever’s journey from a kill buyer’s pen waiting for a slaughter auction, to a new life—half a decade, as it turned out—as one of Old Friends’ most loved residents, a gracious host, kind friend and inspiration to us all. Old and fit only to be thrown away at 26? Hardly!

If you follow this blog or OF’s Facebook page, you probably already know Clever’s extraordinary story. Here it is, with photos of him.

And a brief video of Clever by Wendy Wooley of Equisport Photos.

And a vid I uploaded of him because I was so impressed that though he was one of our oldest horses (at 32, he lived to be our oldest to date), when he got down to roll, he was one of the few on the farm who could roll all the way over.

We’ll miss you, brave, gentle Clever, and remembering you will continue to inspire us. As Dr. Val Nicholson so beautifully put it, “Clever couldn’t hear, but he could listen. He and the other horses remind us that it’s the minutes and moments that count. The minutes and moments determine eternity.”

Linda prepares

 

markers stallions markers mares

 So, sadder than anyone anticipated, a good showing gathered to pay respects and share memories. Racing writer Bill Mooney, OF’s official eulogist, recalled the achievements of those who’d passed during the last twelve months, then people who felt inspired to, recounted stories, or shared what a particular horse had meant to them.

Jason recounts a memory of Sunshine Forever.

Bucky plays

Though Bucky Sallee has retired as Keeneland’s bugler, we were lucky to hear his famous “Boots and Saddles” and the “Taps” Bucky played to honor the unforgettable Klassy Briefcase, Patton, Sunshine Forever, Dancin’ Renee, Miss Docutech, The Name’s Jimmy, Bull Inthe Heather, and Clever Allemont.

Beth

Klassy Briefcase. Photo by Beth Shannon.

Klassy Briefcase. Photo by Beth Shannon.

Patton. Photo by Rick Capone.

Patton. Photo by Rick Capone.

Sunshine Forever. Photo by Equisport.

Sunshine Forever. Photo by Equisport.

Dancin' Renee. Photo by Rick Capone.

Dancin’ Renee. Photo by Rick Capone.

The lovely-spirited Miss Docutech (the bay) leads a game of Simon Says with Hussonfirst (chestnut - "Hoosie" is alive and well). Photo by Beth Shannon.

The lovely-spirited Miss Docutech (bay with star) led a game of Simon Says with Hussonfirst (chestnut with blaze. Hussonfirst is alive and well). Photo by Beth Shannon.

The Name's Jimmy. Photo by Laura Battles.

The Name’s Jimmy. Photo by Laura Battles.

Bull Inthe Heather. Photo by Laura Battles.

Bull Inthe Heather. Photo by Laura Battles.

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May 15, 2014

Old Friends Day at Beulah Park

On Saturday, May 3rd, Bea Snyder and Viv Morrison returned to Beulah Park to host the final Old Friends Day honoring Appygolucky. It was the last day of operation for the historic Ohio racetrack . Although the day was bittersweet, it was heartening to see many of the familiar faces who have supported Old Friends and the legacy of Appygolucky. Over 5000 patrons turned out to wish the grande old dame a fond farewell as the lines stretched from window to apron. A constant stream of visitors to our booth included Sunshine Forever’s groom from his Darby Dan days and the kind woman who was The Name’s Jimmy’s biggest fan, as he shared the same name as her late husband. There was even a visit from Mikethespike’s former connections, who expressed gratitude to Old Friends for our efforts to secure a safe retirement for the grandson of Black Tie Affair. Thanks to a lively group of bidders at our silent auction, we raised just over $2000 to support our great retirees. The day also marked the 5th anniversary of Appygolucky’s retirement from racing and his presence was in evidence throughout the day. His former owner and jockey captured the training and riding titles and at the end of the day it was official. The scrappy bay gelding, dubbed the King of the Claimers by Michael Blowen, would remain the proud holder of the track record for a mile on the Beulah oval. Despite the hardscrabble reputation of the facility, I can’t help but think of the good people who gave the place a heart and the warhorses who ran their races there with every bit as much heart as a Grade 1 winner on the first Saturday in May. Special thanks to Holly Chandler, who kept our day at Beulah going until the end, Mary Oakley who has been faithful in her support each year, Laura Rackar who was responsible for the genesis of Appy’s retirement, Beulah Park GM Jim McKinney, and all those who donated and bid. From Beulah Park came several of our current retirees, including I’m Charismatic, Mikethespike and Ohio bred millionaire, Catlaunch. They are the lasting legacy of this now bygone era of racing in the Buckeye State.

Viv

 

Annual Homecoming at Dream Chase Farm

After several years of unseasonably cold, gray days with torrential downpours, Mother Nature finally decided to smile on our annual Homecoming. The skies above were a bright Kentucky blue and a steady breeze rustled the leaves above our heads. I’ve come to think of our Homecoming as a gathering of friends from near and far, a chance to meet and greet with those that support our wonderful Thoroughbred athletes. After an emotional closing day at Beulah Park, I was content to sit on a railroad tie under the shade tree, eating delicious barbecue provided by Furlong’s Catering, surrounded by a diverse collective of friends. Among the locals were returning visitors from Oregon, New York, Ohio and the Derby City itself  The one thing in common that brings us all together is a love and admiration for these magnificent horses. As strains of bluegrass music wafted over the crowd, patrons toured the grounds via John’s golf cart express and placed bids on silent auctions items. We were treated to a competitive live auction with the help of Old Friends volunteers and Seattle Slew’s jockey, Jean Cruguet.  Michael took to the microphone to receive a generous check from Dr. and Mrs. Allday, followed by a dedication of the Boubon Lane Stables paddock, home of Ogygian’s great-grandson, Johannesbourbon. As the guests departed, a few volunteers gathered to listen to Kirsten Norris, daughter of Ogygian’s pals Kim and Shane, detail plans for her future film projects, including a possible feature on her favorite Old Friends, as Beebee the cat rolled in the grass playfully for Kirsten’s little sister Hannah. As the sun begin to sink behind the hill paddocks, I was left with the hope that with the next generation of the Old Friends family, the welfare of our horses, and those to come, is in good hands and kind hearts. May it ever be so.

Viv

Feeding Time - photo by Rick Capone

Feeding Time – photo by Rick Capone

Bourbon Lane Paddock Dedication - photo by Rick Capone

Bourbon Lane Paddock Dedication – photo by Rick Capone

LSC and New Friend - Photo by Rick Capone

LSC and New Friend – Photo by Rick Capone

 

Rapid Redux and Bebe - photo by Laura Battles

Rapid Redux and Bebe – photo by Laura Battles

 

Finally, I couldn’t post without expressing our sadness at the passing of Crusader Sword at Old Friends at Cabin Creek. I count myself fortunate to have met him and feel much the poorer for not having known him better. An extraordinary horse with a big personality. For more about Cru from those who knew and loved him well, see the OF at Cabin Creek site (scroll to News), or visit  Old Friends at Cabin Creek on Facebook.

Beth

Crusader Sword - photo by Laura Battles

Crusader Sword – photo by Laura Battles

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