Monthly Archives: April 2008

Sunday April 27,2008

We all know it’s a small world, but it turns out the horse world is even smaller.  This week as I walked into the Old Friends gift shop, I came face to face with an old friend of my own from Pennsylvania.  Marta was in Kentucky for the Rolex Three-Day Event and came to visit the farm.  We go back many, many years, Marta and I.  After we got over our initial shock, we had a great time catching up.   I was sad to hear that her terrific old quarter horse, Casher, died a few years back at the ripe old age of 27.   Casher once casually dropped me into a very cold Pennsylvania stream in October.   Smart horse, he always got along best with Marta!

At Old Friends it has been a very nice weekend.  The last few days have been sunny, in the low 70s with a slight breeze; it’s hard not to love this weather.  We took a golf cart ride to the back of the farm and watched the mares romp for a bit.  The mares’ pasture is truly the most peaceful place on the farm.   The grass is deep and soft and the breeze rustles the new spring leaves.  There are no traffic noises, just the birds singing and the sound of the mares’ hooves as they trotted over to see us.   Narrow Escape and Cozy Miss were the first to come over, and Bonnie eventually followed.  While the stallions and geldings can easily be had for the price of a few carrots, the mares are much more discriminating.  They aren’t all that interested in carrots or in having visitors fawn over them.  They just want to be left alone, with green grass and water and no one to bother them.  I guess after years of raising babies, they figure they’ve had enough of people.  For those of you wondering about Bonnie’s Poker, she looks good this spring.   Her coat is shiny, her eye is bright, and let’s just say she remains a full-figured gal!   

Fortunate Prospect gets the “laziest horse ever” award today.  He stretches out on his side every day for a little siesta in the sun, but today he decided to grab a little snack before he napped.  So he grazed on some handy grass as he was lying down.  Nap or snack…what is a horse to do?  I guess he figured out how to multi–task!

Old Friends is very fortunate to have fans in many places that support our mission.  Donations come to us in many forms; carrots, apples, horse treats, and vet wrap all show up in person or in the mail almost every day.  But sometimes our younger supporters touch us the most.   In that vein, everyone at Old Friends wants to send a big hello to Kahlie from Minnesota.  This week, Kahlie sent us $100 for a share in Williamstown.  She raised the money herself, with help from her friends, with a board-breaking contest in her Tai Kwon Do class.  (Ouch!)  Look for a picture of Kahlie and her own pretty horse on our website soon.  Kahlie, I told Williamstown all about you today.  He is a horse of few words, but he said “thanks,” and he looks forward to meeting you some day.   He also mentioned that with a well-placed kick, he’s pretty sure he can break boards, too!

Next Sunday is our annual Homecoming day at Old Friends.  It’ll be a busy day as we welcome Danthebluegrassman home.   There will be music and food, along with tours and time to visit with all of us at the farm.   We’ll have both a live and silent auction featuring racing memorabilia, artwork and a wonderful selection of halters.   More details are on the Old Friends website,   We hope you can join us for a very special Sunday with Old Friends!                  Val

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Sunday April 20, 2008

Sunday April 20, 2008

Welcome to another Sunday at Old Friends.  Today was a busy day at the farm.  The morning started out with blue skies, sunshine and a light breeze, which was a joy since all week the weather reports had forecast rain.   By later this afternoon it rained a little, but no one seemed to mind too much. 

There was a lot of activity today with new horse “neigh”bors (sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one), some reconstruction activity, and numerous visitors.  It all fascinates the horses.   

This week, some new horses moved in at the farm next door and they are close to Kiri’s paddock.  He is extremely fascinated by the new arrivals, so much that he couldn’t be bothered to greet today’s tours.  That’s unusual for Kiri because he loves his carrots as much as the next guy.  He finally decided to come and greet his fans during the 3 o’clock tour.  No dummy, he knew it was his last chance for treats!  

 The Lexington area has had some high winds over the past six weeks or so, and a number of our run-in sheds were blown over and damaged.   During one of those windy days, a Sunday tour group watched the shed in Pops’ and Ring’s paddock blow over and slide down the hill on its roof.   It was one of those moments when you can’t quite believe what you are seeing!    Today, Kent and Greg spent the better part of the day righting the shed, pulling it up the hill and settling it back in place.  It took two men, a couple Chevy trucks and the farm tractor to get it done, but now Pops and Ring have their shed back.  Of course, it’ll probably take them a week to go in it again—they got used to it being upside down.  Now that it’s upright, they are a little suspicious of the whole thing.   

Awhile back, Wallenda forgot he isn’t as young as he used to be and aggravated an old racing injury.  He has been in the barn and off the visitor route as he recovers, but today he came to his stall window to greet a tour.  Most of the horses love treats and Wallenda is no exception, but what he really loves is applause.   He has learned to lift his lip to show off his racing tattoo.   When visitors applaud his little trick, he kind of puffs up, tosses his head, and looks all proud.  You can just about see him smile, and it makes everyone else smile too.  

All the horses have, for the most part, shed their winter coats.  Pops is still a little hairy and Ballindaggin hasn’t quite gotten his gorgeous, copper-metal summer color yet.   Williamstown, Sunshine and Swannie however, are outfitted with the finest of spring dapples.   Ogygian looks great and even little Silver Charm is significantly less furry than during the winter.   

We had our usual cross-section of visitors—kids, parents, racing fans, horse lovers, travelers, and tourists.  Today, they came from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arizona, Missouri and Ohio.    

Come see us when you can.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed spending another Sunday with Old Friends.                  Val


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Sunday at Old Friends

Welcome to Sunday at Old Friends!   I am lucky enough to be able to spend Sundays giving tours at the farm and I am going to try to post a weekly entry on the blog.  Hopefully I’ll be able to write a little about the horses, give our out-of-town friends an update on how everyone is doing, and maybe share a few stories about some of our visitors.  So bear with me while I get started on this!

Today was a cool, rainy day in the Bluegrass.  The grass is ankle deep, lush and bright, bright green.  (Nope, it isn’t blue, at least not to my eyes.)  The redbud trees are blooming royal purple and even in today’s gray mist the colors are unbelievably intense.   Crayola’s got nothing on Kentucky in the spring!

But horses love this weather and they let you know it.   Williamstown showed off for a tour today—arching his neck and breaking into a slow, floaty canter.   At 18 years old, his four white feet dance over the ground and he moves like the athlete he is—graceful, light on his feet and proud of his ability.   Awad then trotted over for his share of carrots.  He is not a very big horse, but when he moves you can see why he won over 3 million dollars.  Even Flying Pidgeon got into the act today, cantering over to the fence and finishing with a fancy little mambo step when it was time for him to come into the barn for his dinner.    

This afternoon we had a large bus come in with maybe 40 seniors from New Jersey.  Unfortunately, they were on a tight schedule so they didn’t stay long, but they were great fun.  I hope they have a chance to come back.   We had a couple of high-school aged exchange students from Europe, some students from Midway College, and a number of racing fans in general.   One lady was so happy to meet Special Ring. 

But my favorite visitors are the kids, and we get some really terrific ones.   The other day as we left the office to begin our tour, one little girl confided to me, “I have waited forever for this!”   On that day, Fortunate Prospect was our first stop.  He put his head over the fence and let the kids pat him and feed him carrots.  He is an exceptionally kind, smart, and patient old stallion.   Of course, after he showed his class with the kids, he tried to take a little nip at their mom.  All just because he can!   As that tour wound down, another little girl cupped her hand to her nose, glanced over to me with a grin and said, “I just love the way horses smell.”   Yep, the kids are the best.  The smartest, too.

A note for those of you who follow the Kentucky Derby horses—Fortunate Prospect’s maternal grandson,  Z Fortune, was second in the Arkansas Derby yesterday.   We keep Gramps updated on his family accomplishments.   He acts like he doesn’t care, but we know he is secretly very proud!   We all pay special attention when an offspring of one of our stallions races.   Will’s Way, Wallenda, Sunshine Forever, and Ruhlmann all had runners recently.   And several years after his retirement,  Awad is still among the 2008 Leading Sires in Pennsylvania. 

The weather is supposed to improve this week—warmer, sunnier and drier.  Keeneland is in the midst of its spring race meet and breeding season is in full swing.  The Derby is only a few weeks away.   At Old Friends, the busy season is gearing up—three tours a day, every day.    Come see us when you can.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed spending this Sunday with Old Friends.         Val


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