May 21, 2015

Old Friends in Kentucky has had the biggest, busiest Keeneland and Derby seasons ever. We send a huge thank you to all who visited us this spring and we hope you’ll return soon. As a tour guide, I’ve never felt more proud of the residents I’m lucky to introduce to people. What a thrill it is to bring people to meet a Kentucky Derby winner. And not just any Kentucky Derby winner, the remarkable Silver Charm himself. But it’s not just superstars like Silver Charm, Game On Dude, Gulch and Commentator I’m so proud of.

Commentator moseys over to say hi. Photo by Laura Battles.

Commentator moseys over to say hi. Photo by Laura Battles.

It’s a joy to show off Sea Native, Silver Ray, Count the Gold, W. C. Jones, Stormy Passage and all the residents, and the grounds, and the barn, and…

Here they come!

Here they come! Lusty Latin, Stormy Passage, Ukiah, Diamond Stripes, Ferocious Won. Photo by Laura.

Greys on parade. Lusty Latin, Ukiah, Diamond Stripes. Photo by Laura.

Greys on parade. Lusty Latin, Ukiah, Diamond Stripes. Photo by Laura.

Everybody’s contented. Old Friends has never been able to give a secure home and great care to as many horses. We couldn’t do it without you. And it couldn’t happen without the utter dedication of hard-working, knowledgeable farm manager Tim Wilson and his team. They’re all great, but I want to make special mention of assistant manager Carole Oates who does so much of the hands-on care, day in and day out, and knows each and every horse so well that she spots the slightest signs of any change in their demeanor. Carole’s horse intuition is as deep as her knowledge of horse care.

Carole and Lion Hunter. Photo by Rick Capone.

Carole and Lion Hunter. Photo by Rick Capone.

We’re now in one of my favorite times of the year, the lull between Derby season and vacation season, as summer comes on, and the horses feast on the richest grass of the year and relax in the warm sun. The stallions hang out in pairs and threes at their fences in neighboring paddocks. The mares and geldings enjoy mellow times with their paddock mates. Canadian Turf Champion 2013 Forte Dei Marmi has passed the quarantine period all new residents go through and is making good friends with Starspangled Heat.

Forte Dei Marmi and Starspangled Heat. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Forte Dei Marmi and Starspangled Heat. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Starspangled Heat and Forte Dei Marmi. Photo by Tim.

Starspangled Heat and Forte Dei Marmi. Photo by Tim.

Game On Dude and Yankee Fourtune continue to be the best of buddies.

Yankee Fourtune and Game On Dude. Photo by Laura.

Yankee Fourtune and Game On Dude. Photo by Laura.

And there’s another friendship on the farm that it’s great fun to watch grow and deepen.

Silver Charm and Michael. Photo by Laura.

Silver Charm and Michael. Photo by Laura.

I love the long evenings after hours, when all is peaceful, and Ring stops flashing his tattoo for the day, and Rapid Redux grazes quietly beside Amazombie, and Rail Trip no longer feels he has to keep an eye out to make sure Catlaunch doesn’t get carrots he doesn’t get.

Fabulous Strike - I'll take another carrot, anyway. Photo by Laura.

Fabulous Strike – I’ll take another carrot, anyway. Photo by Laura.

Most of all, I love watching the horses interact with each other in their paddocks and across their fences. Like the inseparable Ukiah and Easy Grades.

Ukiah and Easy Grades. Photo by Laura.

Ukiah and Easy Grades. Photo by Laura.

And newer friends Shadowcaster and Maybesomaybenot (Maybe and Bobby Sands are still best buds, but everybody loves Maybe).

Shadowcaster and Maybesomaybenot enjoy an impromptu race on Preakness evening (See? Se're faster!). Photo by Laura.

Shadowcaster and Maybesomaybenot enjoy an impromptu race on Preakness evening (See? We’re faster!). Photo by Laura.

Two longtime friends of mine are developing a new friendship of their own, Affirmed Success and Kudos.

Affirmed Success, Kudos in the background (but don't believe that for a moment - these guys are well matched). Photo by Laura.

Affirmed Success, Kudos in the background (but only for a moment – these guys are well matched). Photo by Laura.

And a friendship of long standing is still going strong, Canadian stars, Begg family homebreds, Victor Cooley and El Brujo.

El Brujo rests his head on his friend Victor Cooley. Photo by Laura.

El Brujo rests his chin on his friend Victor Cooley. Photo by Laura.

Victor rests his head on his friend Brujo. Photo by Laura.

Victor rests his head on his friend Brujo. Photo by Laura.

Last, but never, ever least, when Mixed Pleasure (via his human, John) invited some of us to celebrate his 30th birthday yesterday, Little Silver Charm came over too. He didn’t sing “Happy Birthday” with the rest of us, but he gave Mixie the best gift of all, a special birthday kiss.

Mixed Pleasure gets a 30th birthday kiss!

Mixed Pleasure gets a 30th birthday kiss! Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Beth

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May 10, 2015

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett

Last Sunday was Old Friends’ annual Homecoming, and what a party we had! Thanks to much hard work by staff and volunteers, preparations came together, the Sunday after the Derby arrived, and the fun began.

Highlights included reunions with supporters, longtime and new, enjoyed along with tasty Furlongs’ barbeque, plentiful beverages of all kinds, and delicious dessert thanks to the Spotz Gelato truck! Not to mention the great bluegrass music played by Shades of Grass!

Spotz Gelato truck - yummy! Photo by Kelli K. Barnett

Spotz Gelato truck – yummy! Photo by Kelli K. Barnett

This Homecoming, Old Friends had plenty new to share and celebrate, most notably the new hosts of honor, Silver Charm, Game On Dude—and Dude’s best buddy, Yankee Fourtune, a multiple graded stakes winner in his own right and a real character. Little Silver Charm held court, of course, making sure he got a BIG share of attention and petting. Movie star Popcorn Deelites and identity-proud Special Ring (I’d be too if I were a G1 winner) partied with admirers in fine form. Wallenda met and greeted in the small paddock.

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Wallenda. Photo by Laura Battles.

Wallenda. Photo by Laura Battles.

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Tour guides introduced newcomers Starspangled Heat and 2013 Canadian Turf Champion, British-foaled Forte Dei Marmi, as well as Porfido, a Chilean stakes winner who earned in graded stakes in the US before falling on tougher times as an aging claimer. Also on hand to greet their friends were our many longtime residents.

Golf carts made many trips up the hill to facilitate visits to Tinner, Kudos, Commentator, Affirmed Success and the mares and geldings who live in the back 40 acres of the farm, and to show off an area that was only planned as of last Homecoming, the big pasture that our Barn Manager Tim had dubbed “Area 51,” where nine geldings now enjoy each others’ society, as well as with a smaller pasture of four (Riva Way was glad to see many longtime friends) and Eldaafer’s roomy paddock with special fencing for his pet goats, Google and Yahoo. I saw Cherono and W. C. Jones cadge a few carrots. A few, and a few more. Mikethespike too.

Riva Way, Massone and friends. Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Riva Way, Massone and friends. Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

As evening drew on, people headed back for the big tent, where auctioneers Tom Sayre and Curtis Sharff once again turned their inimitable skills and wit to a lively auction that once again provided substantial support for OF’s retirees. The halter I most wish I could have afforded? Will Take Charge’s! …Or maybe Holy Bull’s! Gio Ponte’s! Eskendereya’s! Skip Away’s! Hard Spun’s! And… You get the idea. If you love horse racing, this year’s halters alone were amazing, thanks to the generosity of these horse’s farms or connections. And they were only some of the wonderful loot won by many lucky, and very kind, folks.

Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Auction goodies. Photo by Kelli K. Barnett.

Starspangled Heat celebrated the successful occasion by pirouetting a few complete turns on his toes.

Starspangled Heat celebrates. Photo by Laura Battles.

Starspangled Heat celebrates. Photos by Laura Battles.

Finally, twilight deepened. People lingered over their last conversations of the evening, petted a few noses goodbye, and slowly drifted back to their cars with smiles on their faces. Staff and volunteers did the clean-up dance. Horses grazed and dozed in the quiet.

Dude incandescent in the sunset. Photo by Laura Battles.

Dude incandescent in the sunset. Photo by Laura Battles.

Another Homecoming was over, and so soon. If you were able to celebrate with us, thank you for making it such a success.

Twilight on Homecoming evening. Photo by Laura Battles.

Twilight on Homecoming evening. Photo by Laura Battles.

If not, this year you won’t have to wait for another Derby weekend to mix the best of horse racing with partying on behalf of Old Friends. This fall, Keeneland hosts the Breeders’ Cup. Celebrate Breeders’ Cup with OF? Oh yeah! For developing information about our Kentucky festivities, keep your eye on oldfriendsequine.org. For New York fun, oldfriendsatcabincreek.com.

30 year old Mixed Pleasure, great-grandson of Seabiscuit. Photo by Laura Battles.

30 year old Mixed Pleasure, great-great-grandson of Seabiscuit. Photo by Laura Battles.

Meanwhile, visit with us this summer at both farms. Kentucky: 3 tours a day at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00 (for reservations call 502-863-1775). New York: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (call 518-698-2377 for schedule and events during the Saratoga meet).

Beth

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April 28, 2015

Hall-of-Famers Bob Baffert and Silver Charm share a playful moment.

Hall-of-Famers Silver Charm and his trainer, Bob Baffert, share a playful moment. Photo by Tim W.

…Speaking of wonderful moments shared between our residents and their connections, here’s one that happened today. I wish I could describe the reminiscing shared by 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm and his trainer Bob Baffert when Bob, Jill and Bode Baffert took time out from their busy pre-Derby schedules to visit Old Friends.

A Silver Charm brings good racing luck, they say...

Are the two veteran Derby winners exchanging perspectives on how Saturday’s race will play out? Photo by Tim W.

Or the welcome Game On Dude gave them, especially Jill–smart horses like the Dude know who loves them the very best of all.

The best of friends. Jill Baffert, Bode Baffert and Game On Dude enjoy each other's company. Photo by Tim W.

The best of friends. Jill Baffert, Bode Baffert, Bob Baffert and Game On Dude enjoy each other’s company. Photo by Tim W.

I wish I could describe the memorable time they all had being together again. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there, but I do want to take this opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to all the owners, trainers, jockeys, exercise riders, grooms, and their families who visit and support their former equine colleagues in so many generous and caring ways. And just as warm a thank you to the farm staff who’ve worked with them in their younger days, in the breeding shed, foaling barn, training areas or offices. and who now make a little time when they can to share a moment relaxing and remembering with them, now that their work is done.

Or, to introduce new friends...  Photo by Tim W.

Or, to introduce new friends… Photo by Tim W.

And thanks to Tim Wilson for sharing these great photos!

Beth

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April 26, 2015

Spring in Kentucky! Vivid green, redbuds and dogwoods in bloom, warm sun alternating with chilly weather. Sweet, tender green grass for the horses. Lots and lots of rain. And mud!

Sarbonne rolls in the mud. Photo by Laura.

Sarbonne rolls in the mud. Photo by Laura.

Horses never outgrow…

31 year old Do One Dance, a.k.a. Francis, after enjoying his mud roll. Photo by Laura.

31 year old Do One Dance, a.k.a. Francis, after enjoying his mud roll. Photo by Laura.

…their love for playing in the spring sunshine…

(L to R) Sarbonne, Fabulous Strike, Marshall Rooster, Commentator. Photo by Laura.

(L to R) Sarbonne, Fabulous Strike, Marshall Rooster, Commentator. Photo by Laura.

and rolling, splashing, wallowing in mud, mud, mud!

Rail Trip and Catlaunch. Photo by Laura.

Rail Trip and Catlaunch. Photo by Laura.

Hidden Lake. "Muddy? Me?" Photo by Laura.

Hidden Lake. “Muddy? Me?” Photo by Laura.

El Brujo and Victor Cooley. "Not us." Photo by Laura.

El Brujo and Victor Cooley. “Not us.” Photo by Laura.

Eldaafer, Google & Yahoo. "Nor we!" Photo by Laura.

Eldaafer, Google & Yahoo. “Nor we!” Photo by Laura.

Hussonfirst, be-muddied and proud of it!  Photo by Laura.

Hussonfirst, be-muddied and proud of it! Photo by Laura.

And then, there are the joys of springtime naps.

Game On Dude and Yankee Fourtune luxuriate in a spring afternoon snooze. Photo by Laura.

Game On Dude and Yankee Fourtune luxuriate in an April afternoon snooze. Photo by Laura.

From the spattered to the sublime – Michael paid a visit to wish luck to Brereton C. Jones’ Ashland Stakes (G1) winner and top rated Kentucky Oaks hopeful, Lovely Maria (she put in a fabulous 5 furlong work this morning). That’s her trainer Larry Jones with them, in case you didn’t recognize the famous cowboy hat.

Oaks contender Lovely Maria with trainer Larry Jones, admired by Michael at Keeneland. Photo by Mark Otto.

Oaks contender Lovely Maria with trainer Larry Jones, admired by Michael at Keeneland. Photo by Mark Otto.

Whoever your Derby and Oaks picks, here’s wishing them all the very best of luck and safest of trips this coming weekend!

Beth

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April 24, 2015

The Keeneland meet, into Kentucky Derby time! At Old Friends, it’s the season for reunions. When our residents’ old racing connections come to town, happy moments are shared when equine retirees are visited by their former jockeys, trainers, owners, grooms and others who played roles in their race careers and lives as working athletes.

So far this spring, several of the horses have had visits from people they once worked with, and for, people with whom they shared experiences, with whom they renew bonds. This is an important time and we look forward to more reunions as people arrive in Kentucky for Derby season. Among those so far, I want to mention two very special days when Hall of Fame jockeys were reunited with former mounts they love. Gary Stevens visited Hall of Fame horse, 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm for the first time in many years, and Angel Cordero, Jr., was reunited with Eclipse Award Sprint Champion, Gulch.

Both of these jockeys have associations with Gulch, by the way, Mr. Stevens having won the 1995 Kentucky Derby on Gulch’s son, Thunder Gulch. Gary Stevens has won three Derbys (so far), by the way, including 1988 on the spectacular filly, Winning Colors. Mr. Cordero, “King of Saratoga,” has three Kentucky Derby victories to his credit, 1974 on Cannonade, 1976 on Bold Forbes, and 1985, Spend a Buck.

Mr. Cordero’s love for Gulch seemed to glow from him. I have no photos of that moment, but some new–and we hope continuing–friendships were also made that day…

Angel Cordero and Little Silver Charm. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Angel Cordero and Little Silver Charm. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Photo by Tim Wilson.

Photo by Tim Wilson.

Mr. Stevens’ time with Silver Charm was captured in these photos that say so very much that there’s little I could add.

Gary Stevens and Silver Charm. Equisport Photos.

Gary Stevens and Silver Charm. Equisport Photos.

Courtesy of Equisport Photos.

Courtesy of Equisport Photos.

Many thanks to all of those who played a part in the horses’ past and have–or will–come to the farms in Kentucky or New York to renew those bonds!

Beth

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March 31, 2015

Spring is here at last and some of Old Friends’ residents are enjoying a change of paddocks. Afternoon Deelites has moved across the drive to the paddock in front of the house–in the “front yard” paddock he’ll keep enjoying the busy social life he loves. No tour will escape him!

Eldaafer, Google and Yahoo now have a big paddock with goat-proof fences. Now they can play in plenty of space, the goats will be securely in that space, and they have a whole herd of neighbors to race. Here are the Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner and his goats as they challenged neighbors Mikethespike, Cherono, Johannesbourbon, Ball Four, Lion Hunter, Bonapaw, Boule d’Or, Northern Stone and W. C. Jones to some laps up and down the fence.

Eldaafer, Google and Yahoo race their new neighbors. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Eldaafer, Google and Yahoo race their new neighbors. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Silver Charm now has a permanent paddock. His new neighbors are “Seabiscuit” star Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring on one side, Danthebluegrassman, Flick and Unaccountable on the other. I’m not sure the Derby and Preakness winner is all that impressed with Pops’ and Rings’ encore number, the “Movie Star vs. Tattoo” show. That doesn’t matter. Pops and Ring are as impressed as ever with themselves.

And Game On Dude is having a fantastic time with his new paddock mate Yankee Fortune. These guys are two of the sweetest natured horses OF has ever been lucky enough to have. They’re already great buddies. They’re rarely more than a foot or two apart. They mirror each other. They play, they love petting and kisses on the nose. They gave the race track their all, both achieved feats to be proud of, and now they’re showing the same enthusiasm for their well-earned retirement.

Game On Dude, Yankee Fortune, Little Silver Charm, and Michael. Photo by Tim.

Game On Dude, Yankee Fortune, Little Silver Charm, and Michael. Photo by Tim.

I guess you could say they’re enjoying life’s smaller pleasures…

Beth

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March 17, 2015

Ogygian. March 17, 1983 - March 14, 2015

Ogygian. March 17, 1983 – March 14, 2015

I can’t do this. Can’t capture such a great spirit in mere words. Or describe the emptiness of his empty paddock. I just want to say that in his last hours he was with people he knew and trusted, on a mild night under a starry sky. He ended his life peacefully. We caught the colic symptoms early, Dr. Waldridge got there soon with pain relief and gave heroically of his efforts and expertise. Everything that could be humanely done to try and save Ogygian was done, and Ogygian was strong and loving through it all. My gratitude to Michael is beyond bounds. He made the right decision not to opt for radical hospital treatment that had little chance of working, to let Ogygian go peacefully in the paddock that had been his kingdom for so many years. To make all the caring decisions he made that night. Ogygian left life the way he lived it, with courage, wisdom and a loving heart. I will never know another like him.

Beth

  Ogygian’s halter. Sitting on my dining room table, it looks forlorn and more than a little lost, just like those of us who knew and loved O became on Saturday night. In a lot of ways, his halter symbolized O. It had longevity. O was famous for cleverly ditching every halter put on his head. Four or five years ago, as my bond with O was growing and after the latest ditching, I decided to try my luck. O’s constant companion, Beth, and I deliberated over the most comfortable size and the ideal font type to use on the nameplate. Everything had to be perfect. I can’t recall the details of either, but something about this halter worked for O. With Michael’s coaxing, on it went (of course, Michael was the only one who could actually accomplish this), and we waited to see how long it would last. As it turned out the halter had staying power, just like O.

O, Beth and the Halter January 2015. Photo by Laura.

O, Beth and the Halter January 2015. Photo by Laura.

O traveled over 14,000 miles during the course of his life, until he settled for good at Old Friends. His halter looks like it’s been around the world and back, too. The nose band is a little warped, the ends of the straps are curled up, and the nameplate is scratched and worn with age. It’s a halter with character, experience, toughness, fitting for a warrior, a survivor like O. O and his halter were never separated. Until Saturday night. And now, it sits on my dining room table. I think I’m going to give this halter to the person O loved best in all the world, Beth. I think that’s what O would want me to do. And I never turned down a request from Ogygian.

Barbara

For the past several years, Ogygian has been my “Saturday night horse”. After the visitors go home, Saturday evenings are spent wandering the farm and visiting with the wonderful horses at Old Friends. One horse that was always part of the nightly ritual was Ogygian. He always wandered over for a visit with Beth, Barbara, Alex, John, myself, and whoever else was out in the evening.

Ogygian was a very particular horse. Some things were only allowed if done in a special way. One of those things was the weekly application of a hoof-strengthening cream to his hooves. Beth couldn’t just go in and rub it in. Ogygian required a minimum of two other visitors, preferably female, to praise him and provide carrots while the cream was applied. It was usually Barbara and me cooing and praising as we passed carrot after carrot to him. When someone was not at the farm, we would press John in to be part of Ogygian’s “harem”.

In old age, O got an extra dinner to keep his aging body in good weight. Beth would call him and they would race around the paddock to his feed tub. I used to try to get over to the feed tub first to get the right light for photos. The sight of the old stallion with his mane and tail streaming behind him is forever etched in my mind.

Race to the feed tub. Photo by Laura.

Race to the feed tub. Photo by Laura.

O loved to stand in the back of his paddock under “his” tree. Sometimes, he would fade into the scenery. I remember bringing a tour over to see him one morning. I was looking everywhere for him and calling his name and just didn’t see him. I think he decided I must be blind as he started talking as he cantered across his paddock to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the admiring crowd.

Last Saturday night, I had to say good-bye to my old friend. Saturday nights won’t be the same for a long time to come…

Laura

Ogygian. Photo by Laura.

Ogygian. Photo by Laura.

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March 13, 2015

It’s a bittersweet time on the Kentucky farm. Feeling our losses keenly, we also feel the coming of spring. We’re only weeks away from the Keeneland meet, and then, Derby season. Preparations are underway, people are pitching in on all kinds of projects from Kentucky to New York to Florida to California and beyond, and on the farm, the maintenance needed after the harsh winter is underway…in the middle of mud, mud, mud.

The unstoppable Antonio and Yoel. Photo by Tim Wilson.

The unstoppable Antonio and Yoel. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Flick had oral surgery to remove teeth that had caused him pain. The surgery was performed by Old Friends veterinarian, Dr. Brad Tanner, of Rood and Riddle. The situation has been relieved, Flick is now recovered , and he’s back with buddies Danthebluegrassman and Unaccountable. Thank you, Dr. Tanner!

Flick joins his buddies. R to L, Flick, Unaccountable, Dan. Photo by Tim.

Flick rejoins his buddies. R to L, Flick, Unaccountable, Dan. Photo by Tim.

 

 

Do what?? Porfido. Photo by Laura.

Do what?? Porfido. Photo by Laura.

 

…Did somebody say, farm maintenance? It’s as inevitable after winter as taxes, but it can be a lot more fun, says Swan’s Way.

Volunteer Trampus M. changes out the valve on Swan's Way's waterer. Swannie shows his appreciation...

Volunteer Trampus M. changes out the valve on Swan’s Way’s waterer. Swannie shows his appreciation…

Swannie and Trampus 2

…by swiping Trampus’ bandana. Photos by Tim.

Quiz: Whose fuzzy ears are these? (Hint: his upcoming birthday is St. Patrick’s Day.)

O ears

Beth

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March 4, 2015

For three days I’ve waited for the words for a fitting tribute to Creator. They haven’t come. No words can begin to describe him, or the loss of him.

Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles.

Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles.

Few who saw Creator at Old Friends saw him race, but in the summer of 1990 he was the best horse running in Europe, a superlative athlete worthy of his great lineage: Nasrullah, Never Bend, Mill Reef. He was already a character. Later, one of his grooms in trainer André Fabre’s barn would tell Michael how they called Creator “Houdini” because no matter how meticulously they’d fasten on his blanket, the next time they checked on him they’d find the blanket on the stall floor. Creator’s easy victory over In the Wings in the Prix Ganay was especially celebrated. To this day, Creator is remembered in Great Britain. Here is his obituary in England’s Racing Post.

Creator, by EquiSport Photos.

Creator. EquiSport Photos.

Creator at Hurstland, 2005. Photo by Kate Dunn.

Creator at Old Friends, Hurstland Farm, 2005. Photo by Kate Dunn.

Pensioned from stud at Nitta Farm at age 18, Creator was purchased by Old Friends and arrived from Japan with Sunshine Forever on November 1, 2004. Though Old Friends acquired Sunshine Forever first, it was actually Creator who was the first stallion resident to set foot on Old Friends’ premises. He made sure of that by making enough ruckus on the trailer to get himself unloaded before Sunshine. It set an enduring pattern. Sunshine was our wisdom, Creator was our fire (a triumvirate completed when Jerry and Ann Moss donated Rulhmann, our toughness). For more than a decade, with more than a hundred horses, there was no fire brighter than Creator. Whether running with the wind flaming his red mane and tail, wowing all who met him with his inimitable charisma, or just taking it easy and allowing admiration of his beauty, Creator was always larger than life.

Creator, August 2009. Photo by Beth.

Creator, August 2009. Photo by Beth.

Creator. July 2014. Photo by Laura.

Creator. July 2014. Photo by Laura.

I could tell a million stories if I could see the screen though my tears. There’s no end to what Creator did, or the things about him. His effect on imaginations, admiration, and hearts was extraordinary. Clearly, Creator touched more lives than I have any idea of. So it feels right to step down and invite others who loved him to help with the words I can’t find. If you want to share a memory, an impression, about Creator, please sharea comment. Joining together can’t blunt the loss, but at least as we miss him, I hope it will help that we’re all in this together.

Beth

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February 27, 2015

Williamstown. Photo by Laura Battles.

Williamstown 1990-2015. Photo by Laura Battles.

One Friday around noon in December 2007, Michael got a phone call from Aubrey Insurance Agency in Lexington. Lisa, the staffer who called, was a racing fan. A 17 year old stallion had been pensioned due to infertility and, having not worked out at an equine program at the University of Minnesota, was scheduled for euthanasia. “We’ve got to do something!” she said. “It’s Williamstown we’re talking about!” Do something, Michael did. He spent the day on the phone, tenacious as a bulldog, until he got to the people who needed to be got to. By that afternoon it was all arranged. Williamstown, one of the best sons of Seattle Slew, was coming to live at Old Friends.

Williamstown. EquiSport Photos.

Williamstown. EquiSport Photos.

Williamstown arrived at the farm a few days later. He was—and stayed through the very end—one of the most magnificent looking horses Old Friends has ever had the privilege to care for, a big horse whose nearly black coat was complemented by four flashy white legs and a broad white blaze. His racing career had also been distinctive. When he set his mile record at Belmont in the 1993 Withers Stakes, he bettered the time set by Conquistador Cielo, who was carrying 111 pounds. Williamstown held that mile record for ten years. To break it, Najran had to equal Dr. Fager’s world record, and was carrying 113 pounds. Williamstown had been carrying an impressive 124 pounds.

Williamstown. EquiSport Photos.

Williamstown. EquiSport Photos.

At 17, perfectly healthy aside from infertility, Williamstown wowed us as he got to know his new paddock by putting down his head, stretching his muscular body out long (shades of his great dad!) and running faster than any wind. He was a gorgeous sight thundering around, or flashing out his white legs in play, neck arched. And he put himself on duty immediately, taking on the job of guarding the farm. A house was being built nearby, and William kept his vigilant eye on the construction workers, making good and sure they toed the line. There was no way they were going to come build a house in his paddock!

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

As he aged, time told on the splendid stallion. The arthritis in one of his back legs caused him increasing mobility problems, though William continued to have good spells where for weeks or months, when the mood took him, he’d tear around his paddock like a cyclone. He could be a bit independent, maybe even aloof. He was tough, too. But with his friends, Williamstown was open, willing to meet you more than half way, and kind. He was too dignified to be a cuddler, but in his way he showed affection. He made you earn it, but if you did, he was generous.

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

When it was time to go, William let us know in no uncertain terms that he felt it was the right time to go. He went peacefully, calmly, with the confident assurance that had characterized him all his life. Williamstown was a horse with absolute class.

Beth

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