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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April 20, 2014

The Spring Meet at Keeneland has been exciting, but the best race day of all in the Blue Grass this month was the Easter Evening Meet at Old Friends. Sunday evening’s race card featured Little Silver Charm’s challenge to all comers. The gutsy little contender strutted onto the green April turf, ready to try a match race with any who dared. No horse is too famous, no graded stakes winner too fleet, for the diminutive, but dauntless, LSC to take on.

Before post time, the spectators’ scene seethed with activity while the challenger carefully checked out the turf.

 

Michael calls in his final bets.

Michael calls in his final bets.

Beth gets a hot tip from Ogygian.

Beth gets a hot tip from Ogygian.

Bebe, occupying the best box, seems more interested in just being seen.

Bebe, occupying the best box, seems more interested in just being seen.

 

For the first race on the card, Little Silver Charm paraded to the top of the run, with Michael Blowen up. Or rather, beside (since, as Kent Desormeaux once discovered, LSC does not do “up”). There his opponent awaited him— None other than the always-game Swan’s Way. Swannie, a 25 year old bay with the formidable experience of 81 starts under his belt, was on his toes, ready for any challenge.

…And they’re off!

 

03 And theyre off

LSC broke sharply. Seizing the lead, he dashed down the track, mane and tail flying in the sunset.

04 Racing

Under hand urging from his jockey, he showed masterful turn of foot alongside Swan’s Way’s paddock until Swannie had no choice but to charge into a full trot. Swan’s Way’s longer strides swallowed the ground and he passed the mighty mini for a three length win.

05 And winner is Swannie

Johannesbourbon, Diane, John, Laura and Beth cheered them on from their spots right on the rail.

JB may actually be cheering for himself. Note that he sports his own Bourbon Lane Stable gear.

JB may actually be cheering for himself. Note that he sports his own Bourbon Lane Stable gear.

 

Yet, Little Silver Charm wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. Not yet. Maybe a jump up in class was what he really needed.

Negotiations followed.

Negotiations followed (while Kiri’s Clown watched in the background).

 

What about 1989 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Prized? Would he dare to take on the Miniscule Monster at his own game?

LSC also decided a jockey change might help. So he fired Michael and welcomed John Bradley aboard. Now the star of the farm, the Chaser of Dreams was rarin’ to go again!

Not so, Prized. He turned and ran in the other direction. Oh, well.

Prized goes his own way.

Prized goes his own way.

Then, just as all seemed over, Prized revved up his famous closing style. Steadily the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner diminished the distance at a decidedly swift walk. At the very least, he was curious to see what the mini was up to.

06 Prized off to slow start

But it was too late. Silver Charm passed the last fence post well ahead. Prized decided he was more interested in nibbling some more grass, anyway.

LSC celebrates with his connections in the winner’s circle

Little Silver Charm celebrates with his connections in the winner’s circle

A Grade One Easter was had by all.

Beth

Photos by Laura

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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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