Today was probably the first really warm day of 2008. In fact, I would say it crossed right over the red line into downright hot by about 1 pm. By then, tour dogs Jake and Marley were very wisely sitting in the shade at every opportunity. They gave up completely after the 1 o’clock tour, and hung out in the office air conditioning.
We were very busy today. The day started out with only few visitors on the schedule, but by the end of the day I think we must have had 30 or 35 visitors. Meeting the different people who come to Old Friends is so much fun!
The day started with a couple from Australia who have a horse feed business back home. I could have talked with them all day. We had a great time comparing American racing to its Aussie counterpart and talking about each country’s recent racing greats. The told us how the great mare Makybe Diva won the Melbourne Cup three years running, and how much Aussie racing fans look forward to seeing her babies run someday. I also met a couple who had driven down from Dayton, Ohio to see us, a family from Tennessee, and two separate groups from California. Lots of treats were handed out today!
I do want to backtrack a little, though. Earlier in the weekend, we had a busload of preservationists—people interested in preserving historical places—from the Cleveland area. They were a memorable group who had a deep passion for their work. Apparently that passion was easily transferred to saving old horses, because they asked great questions and really understood what Old Friends is all about. You all were fun! If any of the preservationist group reads this—thank you and come back anytime.
The horses are doing great. Ogygian didn’t bother to come say hello to my tours today, but Futural and Affirmed Success were happy to visit with us. Pops and Ring have been playing tug-of-war with halters and fly masks. This week, Pops is winning. While he still has his halter and fly mask, Ring is without both. It seems that most of the horses love to rid themselves of their halters and fly masks. Awad has his fly mask, but no halter. Creator won’t tolerate a fly mask at all. He has that beautiful long mane and forelock, so he has nature’s fly protection. But the last time Creator got his halter off, it took weeks and weeks to catch him so we could get his halter back on him. He is very, very good at the duck and run!
With the hot sun today, Flying Pidgeon was just kind of hanging out under his big tree in the shade. Because of his teeth (or lack thereof!) he doesn’t get treats. But he often likes to come over just to check out the visitors. Today he was happy to get some of his itchy spots scratched by one of our visitors. The Pidge generally doesn’t say much, but he does love a good scratching! Ballindaggin gave me his version of the full-body hug–a big face rub all over my white t-shirt. (Maybe I just look like a horse Kleenex; Wallenda sneezed all over me the other day.)
I was trying to think of a way to describe just how great the old boys look this year. Today I thought that at age 23, Sunshine Forever looks like he could still strap on the saddle and run a good lick. Realistically though, Old Friends is a farm full of mostly geriatric horses. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every horse looks better, and younger, than their age. It’s definitely a testament to Janet and Kent’s care, Michael’s vision, Diane’s patient kindness, and the support of our vets and farriers. All the treats from our volunteers sure don’t hurt either! But it’s also in no small part because of the love the horses get every day from the fans, visitors, and supporters of Old Friends. We couldn’t do it without any of these people. It truly does take a village of horse fans to run this show.
Another Sunday has passed and now we are into June. Next Saturday, Big Brown tries to do what no horse has done in 30 years–win the Triple Crown. I’ll be rooting for him. And if he wins, I’ll tell the boys (and the girls too!) that we saw something pretty special. Of course, I know exactly what all our boys would say. “Big Brown? Big Brown who? That youngster? We could still give him a whoopin’!”
Thanks for stopping by for this Sunday update. Come visit us when you can!