April 7, 2014

BullintheHeather_Equisport_Photos

Bull Inthe Heather. Equisport Photos.

Bull Inthe Heather, Ferdinand’s greatest son, was an original in his own right. Readers who visited him recently know that Bully was fighting an infection, besides his tendency to abscesses, which worsened with old age. For years Bull benefitted from the best of long-term foot care from Dr. Bryan Fraley, In his final illness he also had everyday treatment from Dr. Bryan Waldridge and others of our new vet team, along with the knowledgeable, devoted care of the barn staff. During the bad weather he had the best stall in the barn, and plenty of attention and company from staff and volunteers alike. We hoped his strong spirit could prevail as it had in the past. But “old age” are the operative words in why that didn’t happen. Bull Inthe Heather was 24, equivalent to almost 80 years old for a human. Even the strongest will can’t prevail forever. Because wasn’t Bull’s first battle. He did prevail. He did live to fight other days—but what matters is that he lived to enjoy most of them.

That’s the other operative word. Bully enjoyed many good times at Old Friends, much love, many treats, back scratches, and the races he liked to stage against Commentator or whoever else happened to be in the nearest paddock. During his middle age, when he lived in the paddock behind the office where Sarava now holds court, more than once we’d look out a back window to see Bull leaping in mid-air, performing a beautifully executed capriole, the air above the ground when horse lifts up and at the apex of the leap kicks out with the hind legs and then lands gracefully on all fours. This is considered one of the most athletic moves a Lipizzaner makes, and Bull’s beautiful silver coat made him look like one of that amazing breed when he did this feat, but Bully wasn’t doing dressage, or performing for anyone at all, he was just enjoying himself. (Or, sometimes, making it clear that it was dinner time.)

Bull rolls and smiles.  March 2010. B. Shannon.

Bull rolls and smiles. March 2010. B. Shannon.

For his years of security and enjoyment, Bull had his dad to thank. Without the response of racing fans, and other animal lovers, to 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand’s tragic demise in an overseas slaughterhouse, Bull Inthe Heather would not have had Old Friends to retire to in 2006. Among the great things Ferdinand achieved, inspiring the support that provided his best son with eight years of security and love was not the least.

I know that many people who have the Breyer model of Bull, or gave the real Bull a back scratch, or admired his tall, silver-grey good looks, will feel something missing from the farm when you visit. Without Bull, something definitely is missing. But he had the best of care and everyone’s love. We did our best to help him fight for his life until the point came when the only loving thing to do was allow him to go.

If you’d like to join us in honoring Bull and live near Lexington, gather with us this Thursday, April 10, for the “Hops and Horses” fundraiser 6-9 pm at West Sixth Brewing on the corner of West Sixth and Jefferson. The event features a glass commemorating Bull with artwork by Anjelica Huston. We intended to celebrate Bull Inthe Heather, Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby contender. Now we will remember and miss him. But we will still celebrate Bull’s accomplishments, his strong spirit, and no doubt his quirks. He truly was one of a kind. If you can’t come to “Hops and Horses,” you’re warmly invited to join us in honoring the horses who have passed on this year on our annual Memorial Day commemoration at Dream Chase Farm.

 Beth

Bull on a breezy summer day.

Bull on a breezy summer day.

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April 2, 2014

Spring is here! Tender green grass is sprouting, the horses are grazing with zest, and everybody’s starting to shed their winter coats. With the warmer weather comes a relaxed mood. Sarava, who doesn’t care for a pat on the nose in the winter, has been graciously accepting them. Eyes are soft, body language spells a growing contentment all over the farm, and playful little paddock dances are happening all around.

The new horses are settling in nicely. The newest boy on the block, Highland Ack (grandson of the great Ack Ack), has joined Dinard’s herd in the paddock next to Arson Squad and I’m Charismatic’s. Nicknamed Landy by his former exercise rider, who retrained, showed, and cared for him when his racing days were done, Highland Ack is a real sweetie! Newbies Maybesomaybynot, Bobby Sands, and Geronimo have been joined by Shadow Caster, who had been living at our nearby satellite location. Shadow Caster, by the way, is by Futural’s sire, Future Storm, a son of Storm Cat. And Johannesbourbon is making friends with every human he sees.

Rail Trip plays

Rail Trip plays

So does Catlaunch

So does Catlaunch

 

With the warmer breezes and green grass, the visitors are starting to show up in more numbers, too. That’s always one of the best signs that winter is over. The horses are loving the more frequent carrots and admiration. The spring meet at Keeneland is about to begin. The Derby trail is heating up. The tour guides are eager to introduce you to the new horses and facilitate good times with your favorites from your earlier visits or your memories of their racing days. We hope to see you at Dream Chase Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky soon!

Beth

photos by Laura

Afternoon Deelites takes a spin around his paddock

Afternoon Deelites takes a spin around his paddock

 

And our helpful office staff (a.k.a. Buddy - also Lucy and Desi -) look forward to your next visit!

And our helpful office staff (a.k.a. Buddy – also Lucy and Desi -) look forward to your next visit!

 

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March 17, 2014

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The Name’s Jimmy getting–and giving–love in his final days

It’s been a week and a half since The Name’s Jimmy died. I just couldn’t face blogging about it till now. Over the years Jimmy had become one of my best friends. Helping out with the press release was easier, since it gave an opportunity to share some wonderful stories Brian Burns, his former owner, told us when he phoned us that day. My favorite was how Jimmy made it, against all expectations, when he was lost in Hurricane Katrina. “He stayed out in the bayou for two days before Pope McLean, Jr. found him,” Mr. Burns told us. “It’s a wonder he wasn’t eaten by an alligator or bitten by a snake. After that, Pope and I called him The Survivor.”

And a survivor Jimmy remained. His passing wasn’t unexpected. He’d increasingly had mobility issues and for nearly a year. The surprise, the cause for admiration, was that Jimmy kept his will to cope, and kept his enjoyment of the little pleasures of life, for longer than any of us expected. These pleasures included butterscotch candies, red delicious apples–he usually refused other kinds. A few months ago a visitor thoughtfully brought wonderful orchard apples, freshly picked. Jimmy would have none of those. Supermarket red delicious only, got it? And there’d better not be any juice from Creator’s watermelon slices on Jimmy’s apple slices–that was serious. And razzing Bull Inthe Heather, a definite pleasure. And joking around with people. Jimmy loved to act tough, to grab in a playful way, to engage with you. Right up to his last days he kept what I can only describe as a sense of humor.

But on the day when even Jimmy’s mighty willpower was no longer enough to keep his body going, he knew how to communicate that, too. The way Michael put it says it all. “It’s always difficult to euthanize one of our great retirees but Jimmy made it easy. The look in his eye spoke volumes and we were able to help him in his final hour. We’re very grateful for all he gave us.”

I was lucky to know Jimmy. I will never not miss him. But I know contending with a body that could no longer obey his strong will can’t have been easy for such a high spirited horse, and he decided when it was time to go. I’ll always admire his power to survive so long and to enjoy the good in life.

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Jimmy in full health, as I’ll always remember him

Yet even as we mourn the passing of one survivor, I think it’s appropriate to express thankfulness for two other survivors, our two oldest residents, each of whom has outlived threatened slaughter, and each of whom has recently had yet another happy birthday. Though all Thoroughbreds officially turn one year older every January 1, Clever Allemont had his real birthday on February 11. He turned 32 years old. That’s the same as a human being over 100. Though old, Clever is as perky and sweet natured as ever. He’s one of the kindest horses I know.

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Clever Allemont. The blanket keeps him warm and dry when he naps in his paddock. He’s kinda sleepy in this photo but he’s an alert guy and in great spirits.

…And, of course, today’s birthday boy. Ogygian was foaled on St. Patrick’s Day 1983. Today he had a happy 31st birthday enjoying the warmer weather and extra attention from Tom and the visitors he guided around the farm. Ogygian doesn’t like sweets, so he celebrated with lots of carrots, and my acknowledgements that he’s the most wonderful horse in the universe.* which is pretty much how he celebrates his ordinary days, too.

* If you tell me one of our other horses is the most wonderful horse in the universe I can’t argue. They all are.

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Ogygian mugs for the camera on his 31st birthday

Our two other oldest horses don’t have birthdays for some time. Gulch will be 30 on April 16, and Mixed Pleasure 29 on May 20.

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Gulch

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Mixed Pleasure dancing

Two final photos I can’t help sharing. Early Pioneer, his new best buddy Ferocious Won, and their paddock mate A P Slew aren’t that old. They’re just cute.

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Ferocious Won (front) and Early Pioneer

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A. P. Slew does his A. P. Slew look

Beth

All photos except Ogygian by Laura Battles

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February 21, 2014

It seems forever since I hailed the new year with promises to post updates about some of the good developments at Old Friends. Has it really been only a month? What a busy time it’s been, a month of the most productive teamwork ever. The challenges of a severe winter have been met by staff and volunteers alike, and the horses are thriving.

I admit this is one reason I’ve blogged so rarely lately, and why I’m still catching up on the biographies for our new arrivals’ share materials. I’ve been one of a small army that’s been slogging through the snow, busting and clearing ice from waterers, delivering supplements, and helping with horse care. New programs, initiated by Michael and the most progressive, knowledgeable barn leadership Old Friends has ever had, are improving the Kentucky farm’s use of volunteer resources. Those who want to work and learn are doing so as never before, and the horses are benefiting. Here are a few of the wonderful things going on.

Got Snow? Sarava

Got Snow? Sarava

Star Plus

Star Plus

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Horses don’t feel the cold weather the same way we do. As long as they’re acclimatized and grow their furry winter coats, their thermoregulatory systems keep them comfortable. But as always, they need water, and plenty of it. Thanks to our barn staff and volunteers, water has been constantly available to all the horses during the frigid weather. Barn staff whacked the ice at morning and evening feedings, and on sub-freezing days, volunteers turned up, some of them day after day, with hammers and axes to bash the ice at midday. Ingenious tools slowed down re-freezing by scooping the ice chunks out of the water. Nick the fireman has fantastic temperature-proof gloves; some others found kitchen strainers with long handles useful; most all ended up with ice crusting their hair or glasses, but the horses had access to their water no matter how low the temps stayed. When for a few days the water pipes failed, excellent teamwork ensured that plenty of water was delivered to all the residents. The labor involved in all this was not minor, and all who pitched in (you know who you are) deserve praise.

...Er...thanks? Pops and Ringy

…Er…thanks? Pops and Ringy

The new horses are settling in beautifully. As a routine precaution, at first they were quarantined in the big barn, with separate turn-out. With the approval of our team of vets (they’re great—all either donate their expertise or charge us reduced rates), the newbies all passed quarantine with flying colors. Geronimo now shares a paddock with Bobby Sands and Maybesomaybenot. Areyoutalkintome completes a contented foursome with Commentator, Fabulous Strike and W. C. Jones. The others will soon settle in with paddock mates too. For Johannesbourbon and Star Plus (who’s not so new) that won’t happen until they’ve been gelded, though you can visit all of them and feed them carrots now.

Geronimo

Geronimo

About gelding: as many of you know, a young male horse who hasn’t had a breeding career and won’t have one is best off neutered. Horses are social animals that feel safest in herds, and geldings can share paddocks. Stallions who’ve had breeding careers are different. Dominant and proud, each wants to rule his own territory—his own paddock—yet stallions do have friendships and rivalries with stallions in neighboring paddocks, like the bond Kiri’s Clown had with his racing rival and neighbor Awad, or the companionable snortings and pawings Swan’s Way strikes up with whoever his neighbors happen to be. Mares don’t have guy-issues about territory. Whether or not they’ve been mamas, the girls enjoy living in herds. Finding the best combinations for our small herds of geldings and mares is an ongoing project. Who’s happiest sharing space with whom is getting lots of attentive focus.

The girls

The girls

Judge's Case & Sea Native

Judge’s Case & Sea Native

More good news involves supplements. Certain high quality horse care products are recommended by our vet specialists for particular horses, Since supplies have never been unlimited, our specialists, barn management and volunteers are collaborating to improve the availability of our supplements to the horses who can best benefit from each. And on the subject of teamwork, have I mentioned how much we love our generous supplement sponsors, Succeed and Lubrisyn? Check out our web site’s Sponsors page for links to these and other great horse care stuff.

Delay of Game

Delay of Game

Finally, special thanks go to our KEMI students. They’re University of Kentucky majors in equine health and business who are devoting some of their already overcommitted time to helping us out. We’ve partnered with the KEMI program for a few years now, and we’re proud to offer our student volunteers meaningful learning experiences. And we learn from our KEMI students, too.

Himself. (Little Silver Charm, of course)

Himself. (Little Silver Charm, who else?)

Winter isn’t over, but during this respite, with what feel like March winds blowing in, I look forward to spring and the visitors who’ll soon be back in numbers. Between the benefits the TAA grant is bringing and better-than-ever volunteer opportunities (yes, we can use more volunteers!) you’re going to love visiting Old Friends more than ever. To schedule a tour, donate toward our horses’ care, or talk about volunteering,  give us a call at 502-863-1775 or  contact us here. We hope you’ll come see us soon!

Beth

all photos by Laura Battles, January & February 2014

winter T and J get MPs new halter on

John and Tim put Mixed Pleasure’s new halter on

Alex and Bebe keep warm together

Alex and Bebe keep warm together

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January 20, 2014

I’m happy to report that this week at OF has been busy and good. We anticipate expanding our paddock space on the leased land beside the farm. Meanwhile, we’re already enjoying an improvement that should make tours even more fun. The path to the back of the farm has been newly graded. The smooth going not only makes chores easier, it opens better visitor access to Eclipse Award winner Hidden Lake, multiple G1 victor Affirmed Success, Secretariat’s son Tinners Way, hard-knocking veteran Mike the Spike, and all the other wonderful horses living on the back of the farm. As yet we haven’t replaced the golf cart, but we soon will. Keep your eyes open for that news.

Some of our residents have switched paddocks. The one I’ll probably always think of as Sunshine Forever’s is being much appreciated by everybody’s longtime buddy Swan’s Way. Swannie loves tours, attention, and his favorite volunteer Tom. Now he’s back where he’s got more of them all. Little Silver Charm has somehow managed to supersize his paddock, or actually, temporarily trade with The Name’s Jimmy whose arthritis makes a stall and turnout in a small paddock safer for him in this slick-ground weather. Bull Inthe Heather has moved into the paddock that was Swan’s Way’s, which we hope will suit his feet and legs just right, and with the way to the back smoothed he’s still well within reach of his admirers. Or is that the other way around? Bull’s old paddock is now home to…but that would be getting ahead of myself.

Because the big news, and what’s kept Michael, Tim and us volunteers scurrying, is the arrival of no less than 6 new residents in the last few weeks, 3 of them just yesterday.

Rail Trip. Photo by Laura Battles.

Rail Trip. Photo by Laura Battles.

Old Friends is proud to welcome two of the stakes winning-est geldings we’ve ever had, one at each end of the racing spectrum. 9 year old Rail Trip set a track record winning the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). This star from California also won the Californian S (G2), Mervyn Leroy (G2) and San Diego H (G2) and finished 2nd in the 2012 BC Dirt Mile. He arrived yesterday thanks to his trainer Ron Ellis and his owner Samantha Siegel and is settling in nicely. Last week saw the arrival of another multiple stakes winner who deserves enormous respect. Ohio bred Catlaunch started 107 times and won over $1 million. Right through the age of 12 he stacked up a list of Ohio stakes wins as tall as he is (and Catlaunch is very tall). He won the Babst/Palacios Memorial H and Gendelman Memorial H 4 times each, the George Lewis Memorial S 3 times and the Rowland Memorial no less than 6 times! He’s all heart and he’s sweet, too. He likes to lick faces and ears.

Catlaunch. Photo by Laura Battles.

Catlaunch. Photo by Laura Battles.

Geronimo and Michael. Photo by Laura Battles.

Geronimo and Michael. Photo by Laura Battles.

Geronimo and Areyoutalkintome accompanied Rail Trip from California. Geronimo, a 15 year old gelding, was a Chilean stakes winner who became a graded stakes winner in the US (the 2005 Morvich (G3), Kent Desormeaux up). A sprinter with a late running style, he won nearly half a million. Areyoutalkintome, a 13 year old gelding, may be new on the farm, but he’s family. He’s a great-grandson of Gulch. He’s also a G3 winner (2005 el Conejo S). He preferred to be the speed in his races—where, by the way, he competed against Bluesthestandard and Bonfante.

Areyoutalkintome. Photo by Laura Battles.

Areyoutalkintome. Photo by Laura Battles.

Maybesomaybenot (front) and Bobby Sands. Photo by Laura Battles.

Maybesomaybenot (front) and Bobby Sands. Photo by Laura Battles.

Finally, my favorite two so far. Maybesomaybenot is so nice he’s a favorite with everyone already. He won the prestigious Sanford S for juveniles at Saratoga in 2010 racing as a homebred for the Scisney family. Maybe’s dad, Sunday Break, is in my opinion one of the best horses ever bred in Japan. Maybe is currently making friends with his new paddock buddy, Bobby Sands. They’re the ones now in what was formerly Bull Inthe Heather’s paddock. I hope I’ll be forgiven for saying the most about Johannesbourbon. Though he’s the only one of the 6 who never won a stakes race. And though at 5, he’s the baby on the farm. He even owes me $6. That’s what I bet on him in the 2012 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland where he dueled valiantly for the lead all the way around, prevailed, but tired in the last strides and was overtaken by the mob. Well, probably others who remember that race would describe the stretch run differently, but this horse was running in only his second lifetime start in a graded stakes against seasoned horses gunning for the Derby, and he came close to winning. I’d have admired that even if he hadn’t been the spit image of his sire Johannesburg. Even if his rich mahogany bay color hadn’t really been closer to his great-grandpa Ogygian’s. Johannesbourbon placed in his next stakes, but developed bad knees. His owners, Bourbon Lane Stables, did the right thing and retired him, but later he fell into less ethical hands and this horse who should no longer race at all was running every 10 days for $2,500. His story could have been a tragedy, unnoticed as are too many of its kind. I extend my heartfelt gratitude and admiration to Bourbon Lane partner Mike McMahon for buying back Johannesbourbon and donating him to OF. If I had my way it’s the owners who do something this right who’d get the Eclipse Awards.

Johannesbourbon. Photo by Laura Battles.

Johannesbourbon. Photo by Laura Battles.

I hope all who get a chance will come to the farm soon, meet the newcomers, and visit your old favorites. Young, middle aged and old, every one of them reminds us every day what it is to honor largeness of spirit, to open up to new relationships and experiences and to value each day with them.

- Beth

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January 14, 2014

As you know if you follow Old Friends’ news, Sunshine Forever and Patton weren’t our only losses in these two weeks. As I wrote that entry, we hoped Dancin’ Renee’s condition was an abscess that would respond to treatment by our two Dr. Bryans. Unfortunately, Dr Bryan Waldridge and Dr. Bryan Fraley, discovered that the laminitis Renee had fought so long and bravely had reached fatal severity.

Being valiant was a lifelong trait of Renee’s. She was a graded stakes winner, with a rare 7 wins in a row, and earned the 1997 titles of New York Champion Sprinter, Champion Older Female and Horse of the Year. The day after Renee died, her daughter Risky Rachel honored her mom by winning the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Every time I go into the barn or by the round pen I miss Dancin’ Renee. But I was there when she passed, and she was telling us she was ready. She was in quiet, loving company and her going was perhaps the most peaceful I have ever seen.

On behalf of Old Friends, I want you to know how grateful we all are for the sympathy you have shown us during this most difficult time we have ever known. We look forward to sharing with you the happier times we trust are coming.

Beth

 

Dancin' Renee (1992-2014) at right, with her friend Klassy Briefcase (1985-2013)

Dancin’ Renee (1992-2014) at right, with her friend Klassy Briefcase (1985-2013). Photo by Rick Capone.

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January 9, 2014

The Old Friends blog returns at a moment of contradictions. On the threshold of what may be our brightest and best year yet, we are plunged into sadness. This week we have lost two of our most loved residents. On Sunday, January 5, Patton had to be euthanized because a combination of conditions were rapidly deteriorating his quality of life. Before dawn on Tuesday, January 7, Sunshine Forever died in his paddock. Autopsy results suggest he was standing on his feet and died instantaneously of a heart attack.

 

Patton. Photo by Laura Battles.

Patton. Photo by Laura Battles.

Patton was a graded stakes winner and the sire of millionaire Kelly’s Landing, accomplishments that place him in a select elite, but all who met him in retirement will remember him for his calm, quiet gentleness. When visitors wanted to pet a horse, it was Patton who offered his soft nose. Stallions tend to get prickly when people take liberties, but not Patton. He made it his particular job to show children and adults who weren’t sure what to make of such big animals how nice a horse can be.

Yet, still waters run deep. Like the time Patton broke his fence and trotted up the hill to visit our mares. Or when he was the guest of honor at the governor’s Derby party and displayed his opinion of the police horses. Patton was very much his own horse. But whatever he did he was always the gentleman.

Patton was a fortunate horse. When his value as an earner decreased, Governor Brereton Jones retired him to Old Friends where he enjoyed a secure, happy old age. At the end, thanks to Michael Blowen’s watchfulness Patton’s debilitation was diagnosed in time to prevent the suffering that would otherwise have come. Patton passed from his life as he’d lived it, peacefully. He will never pass from our memories and hearts.

Patton. Photo by Laura Battles.

Patton. Photo by Laura Battles.

Patton’s page and the news release of Jan. 6.

 

Sunshine Forever's wise eye. Photo by Laura Battles.

Sunshine Forever’s wise eye. Photo by Laura Battles.

What to say about Sunshine Forever’s unexpected going? It is unimaginable. Though all living beings die, I think that without realizing it, we felt Sunshine really would be with us forever.

He was a phenomenal race horse, winner of three Grade 1 stakes in a single summer, and the 1988 Eclipse Award Turf Champion. His robustness and dauntless courage stood out even from the champions of his day, recalling the sound resilience of the old time champions.

Breeding farms have a foundation stallion on which they build their success. Though our retirees don’t breed, Sunshine Forever was, in several ways, our foundation. In 2004 he was our first stallion Old Friends retired, and the first we returned home from overseas. Human vision and caring created Old Friends, but our equine population has also shaped us. Sunshine set the tone for the tours. He was the first resident to allow visitors to feed him carrots. From his middle age through his old age, Sunshine Forever was at the very center of the farm, welcoming his fans graciously, winning people’s admiration and affection. He was right at the heart of all OF aspired to be and all it has become.

Through it all, he was our founder and president Michael’s best friend. Other favorites came and went, but it was Sunshine who was always there for him, steady as a rock.

Sunshine Forever was the most dignified horse I have ever known, yet to his friends and visitors he gave generously out of his abundant wisdom. To say Old Friends won’t be the same without him doesn’t begin to touch what his passing has taken from us. Sunshine Forever will always be our foundation stallion, a benefactor to all the retirees to follow. May some part of his greatness of spirit always remain with us.

My favorite of all photo of Sunshine, by Equisport Photos.

My favorite of all photo of Sunshine, by Equisport Photos.

Sunshine Forever’s page and the news release of Jan. 7.

I’d planned to post about some of the good things now happening, our TAA accreditation and grant, the care it will enable us to provide our residents, also the new paddocks and some of the horses who’ll come live in them. There’s much positive news to share, and I promise to post about it before long. Tonight, the losses are too fresh for enthusiasm. But as we move forward remembering Sunshine Forever and Patton, we have good reasons to hope that 2014 will be the best year yet for the horses at Old Friends.

Ferocious Won, Bonapaw & Kudos enjoy a mild winter day. Photo by Laura Battles.

Ferocious Won, Bonapaw & Kudos. Photo by Laura Battles.

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October 22, 2013

What a lot is going on at Old Friends! Our former Merefield residents have been moving to their new homes. Some are settling in at our satellite locations—that is, farms we have relationships with, where we lease or are donated the facilities for their comfort and good health. Others have moved to Dream Chase, our main farm in Georgetown. Every time I go to the farm I look to see who has arrived. In fact, that’s why it’s taken me so long to make this post. I kept waiting to hear that all who are coming to the main farm have arrived. Then I would announce all the newcomers and returning friends who are now waiting to greet visitors. But since there may be a few moves yet to be made, instead of a final list I’ll mention some of the wonderful horses now available for visits and carrots at our Kentucky farm. Some will be new friends to many visitors. Others bring chances for happy reunions.

Ready for visiting are these newcomers or recently returned:
Fabulous Strike
Early Pioneer
Judge’s Case
Sea Native
W. C. Jones
Dancin’ Renee
Lion Hunter

Commentator loves his new best buddy, Fabulous Strike

Commentator loves his new best buddy, Fabulous Strike

Of course, regular favorites Gulch, Clever Allemont, Ogygian, Bull Inthe Heather, Sunshine Forever, Hidden Lake, Tinners Way, Patton, Little Silver Charm are all here…If you’re wondering if a favorite horse of yours is still here to greet you, the answer is yes. All those who’ve been on the tours lately are still here and they’ll enjoy your visits and carrots too!

Our horses have also been enjoying the crisp fall weather. Here are a few pictures that say it all.

Judge's Case plays with Sea Native

Judge’s Case plays with Sea Native

Pops hops! (Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring enjoy the cool weather)

Pops hops! (Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring enjoy the cool weather)

Belmont winner Sarava leaps for joy. By the way, the summer fly masks are coming off now.

Belmont winner Sarava leaps for joy. By the way, the summer fly masks are coming off now.

Finally, the 2014 Calendars are now available! Click here to get yours at ebay or phone 502-863-1775. They’re $28 by mail or $25 at our gift shop and they’re BEAUTIFUL.

Beth

Swan's Way on the calendar front. Go Swannie, go!

Swan’s Way on the calendar front. Go Swannie, go!

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September 29, 2013

A Blast from the Past

Saturday after the tours, as Barbara and I hung out with the horses, Barbara’s phone was tuned to the races. We were visiting Ogygian when the time came for Lady of Shamrock’s race. Since she’s Ogygian’s great-great-granddaughter, we invited him to watch, turning up the sound and holding the screen for him to see. He just snuffed at the phone, thinking it might be edible, but then the gate opened, the hooves rushed, and the race call began. Everything changed. Ogygian lifted his head, looking at the phone, ears pricked, neck a little arched, listening to the race call. During the entire race he remained absolutely intent. He didn’t move a muscle. He was totally focused, ears pointed at the sound from the phone.

Not that I think the little dots moving on the screen meant anything to him. Not that I think he understood the words, or that a descendant of his was running in the race. But he doesn’t usually respond like that to phones. The trick used by some horse photographers of playing recordings of horses’ nickers and neighs never gets so much as a glance from him. Ogygian knows, better than any other horse I’ve ever been around, when he’s being faked off. But he also knows perfectly well the rhythms and tones of a race being called, a sound familiar to horses who have lived on race track backsides. And watching his intent interest, and the erect, proud way he lifted his head, it was clear he knew exactly what those sounds meant.

As a breed, Thoroughbreds tend to be competitive. They like to prevail. Like people, they tend to like doing things they succeed at. I think this is why so many of the stakes winners among our residents show pleasure when they’re reunited with their jockeys or hear a bugle play the call to the post. It’s been more than 26 years since Ogygian’s last race, but his response to the race call expressed pleasure. Whatever memories or sensations that sound brought back to him, they were good.

And when the race was over, that was okay too. He lowered his head, swished his tail, and enjoyed a few more carrots and caresses from the friends who make his present life good.

- Beth

 

Ogygian, taken Sept. 2013 by Laura Battles

Ogygian, taken Sept. 2013 by Laura Battles

 

Ogygian, 30 years old, Sept 2013, by Laura Battles

Ogygian, 30 years old, Sept 2013, by Laura Battles

 

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September 25, 2013

Klassy Briefcase

Last week a beloved resident passed. In her racing days, Klassy Briefcase was red-hot fast, setting a world record for 5 furlongs on the grass. As a broodmare she excelled too. Read about her accomplishments here. We knew her in her quieter, advanced years when she’d adjusted to arthritis and other limitations of old age with absolute grace and kindness. We’ll always miss Klassy, who truly was all class.

Klassy Briefcase

Klassy Briefcase

 

Klassy Briefcase

Klassy Briefcase

  

Klassy's kind eye

Klassy’s kind eye

 

Rosie’s Photo Shoot

Last week I wrote about the chapeau Maggie Mae designs will create to honor Patton. This week the buzz is about Rosie Napravnik’s photo shoot. She’s modeling the current hat, the spirited Sean Avery chapeau. It goes up for auction this Nov. 1—mark your calendar! All proceeds will benefit Old Friends.

So, Thursday was the big day. Sean Avery was groomed to a sleek shine. Rosie came in an elegant dress, the perfect complement to the shape and color scheme the hat. The confident sweep of its black feathers was inspired by the name of Sean’s racing owner, Black Swan Stables, and its spunky hues recall their racing silks. Just as much, they express Sean’s own energy. He’s an upbeat guy.

Matt and Wendy Uzelac Wooley, otherwise known as Equisport Photos, generously donated their talents to the mix. So all converged in the barn to make the perfect photo to show off the joie de vivre of Sean Avery, the chapeau.

Only, the human participants hadn’t quite planned on the joie de vivre displayed by Sean Avery, the horse. I wish I could give a behind the scenes account. I wasn’t there. But here’s the video so you can see for yourself.

In fairness to Sean, he’d been in his stall so he’d stay clean and beautiful, and when he came out, he really wanted to play outdoors in his paddock. I love Rosie’s gentle, affectionate firmness in the video as she lets him know they had other business to take care of. Little Silver Charm, of course, is always ready to step into the spotlight. He was only too happy to show Sean how a pro handles a photo session.

As for Rosie in the chapeau, and the chapeau on Rosie…stunning! Old Friends is grateful—and then some—to Maggie Mae Designs, Rosie, Matt and Wendy, and all who try your luck for the distinctive Sean Avery chapeau in the auction, Nov. 1 We deeply appreciate all you do for Old Friends’ retirees!

- Beth

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