The heat has finally kicked in. Before Sunday it was cool, honest-to-goodness Spring weather. Thanks to all the rain we’ve had everything is green and burgeoning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen flowering trees – the dogwoods and redbuds in particular – as beautiful as they have been this year. And of course our horses couldn’t be more delighted with all the tasty new grass.
Creator and Bullintheheather have traded paddocks, so now Creator is the first horse you see when you arrive at Old Friends. He seems to feel it’s his due. Now that he’s in the prime spot he’s taken to the role of official greeter, allowing himself to be admired and plied with carrots and pears, his favorite fruit, al dente, of course, not to ripe, not too firm. He gazes out from behind that long forelock of his and sends visitors on their way with a look that says, “You’ve seen the best, now see the rest.”
Bullintheheather is enjoying his new custom-made corrective shoes. Michael calls them Bull’s Nikes, but price-wise they’re more like Manolo Blahniks. Bull has problem feet, something many of us can sympathize with. If his feet aren’t comfortable, he’s not happy. These particular shoes are an innovative design formulated for Barbaro. Ruhlman, another martyr to his feet, has been fitted with them too. It’s great to see him prancing around his paddock like a three-year old.
This weekend was extremely busy, with people visiting from New Zealand and Holland, and closer to home, Minnesota, Michigan, Florida and Ohio, among other places. Some of our volunteers were traveling – Beth Shannon to Egypt, Rachel Binegar to Machu Pichu in Peru and Val Mulgrave, your usual Sunday blogger, to somewhat less exotic Pennsylvania. Volunteers Tim Ford, Barbara Fossum, Charlie Brown, Nancy Bragg, Tom Beatty and Mercer Vandenberg were, as always, willing and wonderful. Sylvia Stiller, our Director of Everything (Michael is Director of Everything Else) even came in on Saturday, her day off, to help out.
Michael spent several days last week leading a Smithsonian Tour of the Bluegrass. It was a lively group, 19 people from all over the country, directed by Smithsonian Tour leader Cheryl Lytle. Michael was particularly impressed by Edna, a sprightly 100-year old from San Francisco. It was Edna’s 36th Smithsonian Tour. They visited Churchill Downs, toured the backside and the Kentucky Derby Museum and spent an afternoon at the races. They had breakfast at the Keeneland track kitchen, visited the Kentucky Horse Park, the Thoroughbred Training Center, Stonewall Farm and, of course, Old Friends. The tour was so successful that they are planning to do another next year.
We had a special visitor on Sunday, Lucy Duane, 11, from Louisville. Lucy sent Michael a letter saying that she had bet on Eight Belles at a Derby party and didn’t feel right about keeping her winning in light of what happened to the filly. She wrote thatshe would send the money to Old friends and that she would ask her friends at school and the pople at her church to make contributions. Lucy collected more than $200.
Our newest retirees, Cappucino Kid and Danthebluegrassman are settling in. Dan will be a guest of honor at the Bluegrass Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park in June. The Gallatin County Youth Bluegrass Band, an impressively talented group of young musicians, have written a song in his honor, “The Ballad of Danthebluegrassman.” They played it at our annual Homecoming earlier this month.
Two mother geese chose Sunday to introduce their broods of fluffy goslings to the pond. One mother led her little ones into Will’s Way’s paddock. Will was interested. He approached the babies and sniffed. Mother goose squalked and flapped her wings. Will fled.
Buddy the barn cat is recovering. Buddy had a serious blood infection and nearly died, but thanks to the ministrations of the Midway Small Animal Clinic, Buddy is now feeling fine and warming to his new role as office cat. – Diane