I’m mixing things up this week with a Tuesday blog. (And no, this does not mean bad news from the farm!) I spent a couple different days at the farm this past week that weren’t Sunday, so I’m playing catch up. I wrangled about 40 elementary kids for a tour on Thursday, and spent a good part of yesterday visiting some of my favorite horses all by myself. Both days were immensely satisfying.
I am sure you have heard the saying, “it’s like herding cats.” That saying should be amended to, “it’s like herding small children!” The kids were kindergarten through sixth graders, from one of the elementary schools in Frankfort. I will say this: these were some terrific kids. I told them no screaming or running, they didn’t scream or run. I told them to take turns, they took turns. In fact, I have had many groups of adults who were worse listeners than these kids.
Watching the horses watch 40 kids is hilarious in itself. We started with Sarava, who was in his stall in the big barn. Now, Sarava is still settling in, but at this point he seems like a genuinely nice stallion. I opened his stall door and put the lead on him so the kids could meet him. He was deeply intrigued–for about 5 carrots. Then he backed up, turned around and let us know he was done. On the other hand, Afternoon Deelites would have stood all day, although he passed on the patting, thank you very much. No touching His Highness, I guess. Clever always loves kids and Ogygian trotted over from his shed, because kids are probably his favorite visitors. I brought Silver Charm out of his paddock and he was more than happy to be surrounded by kids. For some reason, Dan has always loved to squinch his nose in little kids’ hair, which always gets the giggles going. Special Ring’s lip trick was a huge hit, too–over and over and over!
But then there was Marquetry. I’m telling you, if I didn’t love him before…let’s just say he is some kind of horse. As soon as our herd of cat, I mean kids, turned his way, he threw up his head and came at a dead run from the far side of his paddock, neighing the entire way. Marq then hung his head over the fence, closed his eyes and let 40 pairs of little hands reach over, under and through the fence to pat him, pretty much all at the same time. If you ever have doubts about how much an animal understands, you would only have had to see Marq with those kids to know that horses are so much smarter than we are. In a world where kindness often seems to be in short supply, Marq has plenty to share.
Yesterday was a non-work day for me, so Marley and I decided to visit some of our newer horses, as well as some of the residents over at Merefield, our annex farm. (Well, Marley mostly wanted to see her dog pals Shane, John Wayne, Betty and Reggie. And she wanted to see her Aunt Bea!) I wanted to spend some time brushing Wallenda, which I did. Sleek summer coats are gone—the horses look to be about halfway to their thick winter coats. Wallenda looks like sheared black velvet, if you overlook the dirt, that is! But the sun-bleached look is gone, and it’s especially noticeable on the dark horses like Wallenda or Kiri’s Clown. In one of the paddocks at the annex, I watched bright red Early Pioneer, black Fabulous Strike and white Judge’s Case running across the bright green field. It was beautiful, albeit too quick for me to think to grab my phone and take video.
Klassy Briefcase and Dancing Renee are quite happily ensconced on their paddock at the annex. They look like they have been friends forever. The other great change at the annex is Gasconade has graduated from a solo paddock to being paired up with Dinard. Gasconade came to us as a young stallion off the track with an injured ankle; after healing time and gelding, he is able to have a friend. Since Dinard is older and very calm, they make a good match. Not that Gasconade doesn’t try to instigate his new friend—it made me laugh watching him try his darnest to get Dinard going, without success.
One of my other favorite horses at the annex is a gelding named WC Jones. Jonesy is a big, tall bay horse and he is kind of quirky. OK, by quirky, I really mean hard to catch! But once he gives up and realizes you aren’t trying to take him away from his grazing time, he loves attention. In fact, he is a cuddler—all 17 hands and 1300 pounds of him. He loves to be hugged and he’ll lay his head over my shoulder and nuzzle my face. Just don’t ever say the word “work” to him. He followed me around his paddock yesterday just begging for more love. He is impossible to resist.
I finished up my day by visiting with Lou Brissie and my cutie pal Arson Squad. You know, Lou was a sleek, fit racehorse what, maybe 2 months ago? Uh-huh. Now he looks like a wide-bodied little quarter horse. In fact, a visitor saw him yesterday and said, “are you sure he isn’t a quarter horse?” Hey, Lou just makes efficient use of his caloric intake! Retirement is surely agreeing with him.
And Arson Squad is doing fantastic. He outside time is increasing and he looks great. I don’t believe his ankle, with its pins and screws, hurts or bothers him much at all. That is just a miracle, isn’t it? I think it’s the contrast between how mentally and physically tough he is, and that intelligent cute face that gets me. Sadly, it’s just not practical to move him into my house. Sigh.
I myself am doing Sunday tours on a less frequent basis–taking more time at home and doing other things–so my blog entries will reflect that change, with posts on different days and times. I hope you all will continue to read, and comment, on events at the farm. If you haven’t ever visited Old Friends, we hope you will do so if you find yourself in the area. Tours are scheduled all year round, with fall and winter offering a different, but no less interesting view of life on the farm. We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Tuesday with Old Friends! -Val