Monthly Archives: September 2008

Sunday September 28, 2008

It’s going to be a short post today.  I took the day off from giving tours today, as Greg and I are moving to a new house this week.  Let me tell you, painting is not really all that much fun!

I did get a report from Janet this week, and she says the horses are doing well.  She said when the farrier came to trim hooves this week, all the boys behaved nicely, and allowed themselves to be caught.  This doesn’t always happen–Special Ring and Pops are notorious for avoiding the farrier.  But of course, there was one bad boy this week–Silver Charm ran and bucked around his paddock.  He doesn’t have a huge paddock, but he still managed to elude capture for a bit.  He had to make a statement, I guess.   And he is still showing off for Monday!

We are all looking forward to Lava Man’s arrival in a few more weeks.  I hear the plans are progressing for his California good-bye.  If any of our fans are in California and attend the Breeder’s Cup–take lots of pictures.

Keeneland’s fall meet opens this coming weekend.  My second favorite time of year–after the Spring meet of course!  I’ll try to post a report from the races, as well as updates about Lava Man, and any news about the current Old Friends.  In the meantime, thanks for stopping by. 

-Val

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Sunday September 21, 2008

Kentucky bluegrass?   Forget about it, it’s not even grass anymore!   Everything is completely parched in central Kentucky– brown, crispy and dusty.  The trees all seem wilted and I think we are in for a dull, colorless fall.  When Swannie paws the ground for more carrots, he raises a cloud of dust that coats everything in its path.   The “Bluegrass Bubble” is alive and well—rain passes east, west, north, and south of us, with nary a drop to be seen here.

It was busload day at Old Friends.  We had a group of educators from Hong Kong this afternoon and a large tour bus of folks from the Iowa/Minnesota state line area.  We also had some people from Germany, Ohio, Vermont and Michigan.   Everyone was very nice, as usual. 

The horses are all doing well.  While it’s still pretty warm, I guess the horses know fall and cooler weather is coming, because Ogie, Sunshine, Pops and Ring all cantered over to greet tours today.  I haven’t seen Sunshine and Ogie move that much since springtime.   I have to say, while all the horses are beautiful, both Ogie and Sunshine are something special to watch when they run.  Gorgeous!  Of course, Sunshine, who has a horse sense of humor, chose the busload of 55 people to make his run at the fence.  The group moved back as one, even as they were impressed with his little run.   Show off!

Which leads me to this observation:  it doesn’t matter if our visitors are racing fans, or even if they have any experience with horses.  Many of them, in fact, have never been near a horse, ever.    But there is just something about being around the boys that makes everyone into a horse person.  Whether it’s their first time feeding carrots, realizing how large a horse is compared to us, or being on the receiving end of a big horse sneeze, every visitor leaves Old Friends a little more in tune with farm life, animals, and the bond between horses and people.    Everyone smiles, and everyone wants to come back.  The horses love the people and the attention, and the people love the horses.  It’s just about perfect!

So, until you can come visit us, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends! 

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Sunday September 14, 2008

Wow, was the wind something else today!  I think it was clocked in Lexington somewhere around 50 mph, with higher gusts.  We had three run-in sheds blow over, and I think the damage was pretty significant on a couple of them.   No rain, which we dearly need, but I guess we sure got some of the wind from Hurricane Ike.  Walking around, doing tours in that wind made me appreciate those nutty TV weather people who report from the hurricane-drenched beaches!

Even though it was pretty warm today, the horses were excited by the wind and quite a few of them showed off their old racing form.  Flying Pidgeon surprised us all with his antics this afternoon.  He ran around, his tail flying like a banner, kicking and squealing.  That is saying something, considering he is 28 years old!!  Pops and Ring, Will’s Way, Awad, Leave Seattle and Creator also did some leg-stretching.  Even the mares were all worked up, running across their pastures like a bunch of yearling fillies. 

Tour dogs Jake and Marley enjoyed themselves today.  Jake has a tour routine—he ambles ahead of us one or two paddocks, finds a comfy spot and lays down to await our arrival.  Once we catch up to him, he strolls on down to the next spot and waits again.  But I sure wish I had a camera today.  Danthebluegrassman dropped his head to the bottom of the fence to see Marley, who decided Dan needed his face washed.  I turned around and she was licking his face.  It was a Kodak moment for me!

I was out at the farm Friday evening and walked over to see Wallenda in his paddock.  He meandered over to see me and I reached over the fence to scratch his back.  (Most of the horses enjoy a good back scratching, some even more than others.  A lot of visitors have seen how much Kiri and Bull love having their backs scratched.)  But Wallenda was the best ever.  Once I found his itchy spot, (for future reference, just in front of his withers) he started to drool–big, ropey strings of slobber!  Then, he leaned into the fence and just when I hit the itchiest spot, his front leg buckled.  If it hadn’t been for the fence, he would have fallen right down.  Wallenda is a pretty vocal horse; he’s always nickering and talking.  But if he could have spoken just then….

We had some great tours too, a group of Michigan ladies on a “girls weekend,” to Old Friends and the Keeneland sale tomorrow.  We also had a couple who own and show quarter horses, a wonderful lady from California, and some really nice folks from Ohio.   Still, once in a great while people shock me, in both good and bad ways.  So, for the people who lifted the money from the donation bucket in the office today, I sure hope you desperately needed that money.  And for the wonderful people who felt so badly about it they gave extra money to make up for what was stolen…words can’t describe your generosity. 

On another note, Sylvia asked me to pass on a request.  If you have been to Old Friends, for a farm tour or to stay at the B & B, and you had a good time, please take a moment to log on to www.tripadvisor.com and share your experience!  You can search for “Old Friends” and you’ll find us!

Another weekend is done and over.  I hope you can come see us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Friday September 12 ,2008

***LAVA MAN UPDATE***

Lava Man’s arrival at Old Friends has been delayed, as a “good-bye” affair is being planned for all his California fans.  We’ll let everyone know more details as we learn them, including Lava Man’s new arrival date at Old Friends.

-Val

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Sunday September 7, 2008

Ballindaggin was laid to rest yesterday.  It was a beautiful evening for a wake, with puffy clouds drifting in a light blue sky and temperatures in the mid 70s.  A comfortable group of volunteers, friends, and fans met at the farm to watch video of Ballindaggin’s best races, and to remember the big, handsome, kind-hearted chestnut horse.   Bill Mooney, the Eclipse-award winning writer, gave a touching eulogy and Michael said a few words.   In a pretty, dark wood box, Ballindaggin’s ashes went in the ground next to his new headstone, and everyone took a turn at the shovel.   Pops, Ring, and Awad, long-time paddock neighbors of Ballindaggin, stayed nearby to watch.  Even Duncan walked over, looked at the box, and in his wise canine way, dipped his head in good bye.    

When the call to post rang out over the farm, the horses as one raised their heads to acknowledge the moment.   As the sun started to set, Ballindaggin’s grave was smoothed over, and we drank a Woodford Reserve toast to an Old Friend. 

I don’t think any of us could ask for a more fitting tribute.

But in the end, Old Friends is a retirement home.  And so, as is the way of things, we begin to prepare for our newest Old Friend.  Lava Man is scheduled to arrive at the farm on September 16.   All of us are deeply honored that his owners are willing to entrust us with their great horse.   I know Lava Man will be loved, cared for, and given lots and lots of attention!  I am looking forward to meeting Lava Man’s many fans; in the meantime, I’ll do my best to share my experiences as I get to know him.

I hope you can come see us sometime soon.

Val

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Sunday August 31, 2008

August officially comes to an end today.  It’s hard to believe that summer is over.  Labor Day tomorrow, and then it’ll seem like fall.   

The horses will be happy when the weather cools off and we get some rain.  We had some scattered thunderstorms this week but not nearly enough to soften our parched ground.  Most of the horses prefer to just hang out, not much action or movement to be seen.    The exceptions, of course, are Pops and Ring.  I looked up from Kiri’s paddock today and the boys were silhouetted against the sky at the top of the hill, running and bucking.   It was a single moment of perfect beauty.  It seemed to me the entire group was silent for an instant, caught up in the same spell.

It was a pretty quiet morning with only 6 people at 10 am.  But we made up for that with about 30 folks at 3 o’clock.  They just kept showing up and it turned out to be a great, albeit large, group.   All the kids got a chance to feed some carrots, but the champ had to be a tiny little toddler named Lucy.  Barely old enough to talk, she might be the youngest “horse nut” I have ever met.    At first, I held her hand while she fed Awad a carrot.   After that, Lucy fussed each time we stopped at a horse until she could hand out a carrot and a pat on the nose.  It never fails to amaze me how gentle those big stallion teeth are when a tiny little hand holds the carrot.  They may try to bite me, or take a shot at mom and dad, but never the little ones.  There is a noticeable difference in how the horses interact with little kids, and people never fail to comment on it.  (I think the horses know who has the potential to hurt them, and who doesn’t.)  My apologies to Lucy’s mom and dad, because I bet she is now a horse fan for life!  I foresee riding lessons in eight years or so….

I can’t say there is much happening to report on this week.  The horses are all doing well.  Like I said, they will all be happy when cooler, wetter weather hits.  The ground is so dry, and I think it must be sort of tiring to stand on the all hard ground all day.  The grass is pretty dry too, and doesn’t seem all that appetizing to me!   Carrots and mints are still good, though, and all the boys love their treats and the attention that goes along with them.  

On a sadder note, Old Friends will hold a public memorial service for Ballindaggin on Saturday, September 6 at 5:30 pm at the farm.  Ballindaggin was euthanized in July due to complications from degenerative arthritis.  He was a beautiful, kind stallion and tours are not same without him.  If you are in the area, please join us.   Ballindaggin loved people and we would love for his friends to come and help us remember him one more time.

-Val

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