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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