Monthly Archives: November 2008

Sunday November 30, 2008

Ahh, the last day of November and the weather is kind of nasty.  It’s cold, gray, and rainy with low clouds.  Not good weather for people to be outdoors and the lack of scheduled tours confirmed that.   But the horses think this weather is just grand.  I got out of my car this morning up by the big barn and could hear the thunder of hooves from the back of the farm.  Two or three seconds later, the entire herd of geldings flew up to the fence.  Let me tell you, four geldings in one field, along with Affirmed Success and Futural can make a whole lotta noise!  It was pretty neat.  That of course got everyone else going; Pops and Ring, Williamstown, Swannie and our two new horses all started running. 

Yep, we have a couple of new residents.  The stallion Stage Colony arrived this past week.  He is a big, handsome bay horse, a son of Pleasant Colony out of a Stage Door Johnny mare (hence his name).  He is settling into the paddock between Wiliamstown and Ogygian.  (Monday had previously been residing in that paddock but she has healed enough to head back to work.)  Today, Stage Colony was busy working the fence line showing off for the geldings in the field behind him.  I imagine he was also trying to impress Willy and Ogie, but frankly they couldn’t have cared less.  Willy is mourning the loss of his gal Monday, and Ogie is just too darn cool to get worked up over some other horse’s antics.  By the way, as you know Silver Charm was Monday’s other admirer.  He seems to be handling her loss somewhat better.  He had a nice pile of hay in front of him today and he seemed rather blasé about the whole thing.  Easy come, easy go, eh Charmie?

Our other new horse is the gelding Siphonizer.   He is a pretty dark brown horse who was recently claimed for us by Maggi Moss and trainer Steve Asmussen.   Siphonizer is pretty young; in fact he is a member of the Class of 2001, the same year that gave us Smarty Jones.  For the fans out there of Meadow Stud, Secretariat, and Penny Chenery, Siphonizer is a great-grandson of Derby and Preakness winner Riva Ridge, on his dam’s side.  He is hanging out in the paddock across from Swannie and I think he needs some time to figure us out.  I spent a little time with him on Friday and again today.  Both times he tried to be friendly, but then he decided well, maybe not and backed off.  No worries though, Swannie will show him the ropes! 

I also have an update on horse Professors Easy Ellis and Danthebluegrassman.   Their “try-outs” at Chris McCarron’s jockey school did not go well and so both horses are back at Old Friends.  I think Dan got into the work environment and realized perhaps he was better suited to eating treats and greeting people. (Or, as I told Michael:  he doesn’t want to work, he prefers to volunteer!)  I don’t want to imply that Dan was faking that sore leg; let’s just say as soon as he got off the trailer back at Old Friends, the limp magically disappeared!   And Easy, according to Michael, got off the trailer practically at a run, and didn’t stop till he was back with his buddies.  We may not be able to catch him for six months!!!    The horses sure have a way of telling us what they want, you know?  In a way it’s too bad, because both horses would have been great teachers.  But selfishly, I’m pretty happy to have them back.

That’s about all the news at the farm.  The holiday season is in full swing and the tour season is definitely slowing down.  But we remain open for visitors all winter long, so if you have some time on a nice day, come visit us.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends.  -Val

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Sunday November 23, 2008

We didn’t have any tours scheduled when I arrived at the farm this morning, so I was able to take some time for my own mini tour.   One of my favorite things, it is a lot of fun to be able to walk around by myself and talk to all the boys on a beautiful sunny morning.  I didn’t have the usual bucket of carrots in hand but that didn’t matter.   I started in the barn with my “big horse” Wallenda.  Janet says he is like a college kid—he parties all night when he goes outside, then sleeps all day.   Janet can even go into his stall and clean his feet while he is lying down!  But he got up when I opened his stall door today, so I spent a few minutes patting him, then pulled a burr out of his forelock.  I just adore that horse.  He doesn’t have great social skills, but he sure loves attention!   From there, I went over to the small barn to say hi to The Wicked North.   Norty is such a kind horse.  He is a rare stallion in that you can wrap your arms around his neck and give him a hug—most of them really aren’t hug material!  But Norty loves being patted and he would hug you back if he could.

Next on my walk was Flying Pidgeon.  Pidge was nosing through the remains of his breakfast grain.  He is not an especially huggable kind but in his own way he enjoys attention.  And if you can find and scratch an itchy spot….he’s your friend!  Ogygian was on the far side of his paddock, so I headed over to see Cowboy and Monday.  They are both white-faced chestnuts who love treats.  Even though I didn’t have any in hand, they both came over to say hello.  Cowboy likes to have his face rubbed, so I obliged him.   Silver Charm trotted over to say hello, but as soon as he saw I was empty-handed he walked away in a huff.   No treats, no Charmie! 

I headed over toward Williamstown, who jogged over to say hi.  He got to the fence, stretched out his neck and clicked his teeth together.  An unusual kind of hello, but hello it was.   Willy likes to push his nose into my palm to lick and slobber on my hand.  All the stallions want to know who else I have been patting, and between the slobber and the drool they figure it out. 

Pops and Ring were happily grazing down at the bottom of their field, and Leave Seattle was dozing in the sun.  Kiri was absorbed with the horse across the road from him, so Awad was next on my tour.  He was dozing too, but opened an eye when I walked up.  Awad is a picky guy when it comes to treats.  He loves carrots, hates mints, doesn’t like apples and takes horse cookies only as a last resort.  But as a result he is just as happy to get his nose rubbed and hold a conversation.   After a few minutes I headed across the way to see Swannie, who was nickering and pawing the ground in anticipation.  Swannie is the opposite of Awad—he never met a treat he doesn’t like!  But even without treats he loves attention.  He eagerly awaited his turn for a face rub, and he had to slobber all over me as well.  Will’s Way was napping, stretched out on his side in the middle of his paddock, and Sunshine was snoozing as well.  So I headed to see my last horse for the day, Ruhlmann.  Ruhlmann loves his treats, but even though I didn’t have anything for him to eat he said hello, let me rub his face and clean a bit of dirt off his eye.  Then he gave me a mildly disgusted look (for the lack of treats I’m sure) and trotted off.

Danthebluegrassman and Easy Ellis are in the middle of their new job interviews—14 days with Chris McCarron’s jockey school.  If Dan and Easy fit in, they will be instructing young men and women in the art of being a jockey.  Both horses are great choices, being friendly and kind.  I can see them both becoming great equine professors!

Creator, Bull and Gramps were all in the middle of their fields grazing or snoozing, so I packed Marley and Jake and headed out.   Michael said he would handle any tours that showed up today, so Greg and I headed over the Churchill Downs in Louisville to see some racing. 

Ruthann, Mercer and Janet recently formed Won Horse Racing, and own a horse that Janet’s husband Kent trains.   Bootco is a beautiful four-year-old gelding by Storm Boot, and he was scheduled to run today.  This was his first race back after a pretty long vacation and unfortunately he didn’t finish in the money.  But we had a great time, hanging out on the backside and watching the pre-race preparations and post-race cool-out.  We were able to be in the saddling paddock before the race and we watched the race from the trainer’s box.  What fun, and a real treat for both of us.  Before and after the race, along the shedrow where Bootco was stabled today, we really got a sense of how much care and pride trainers and grooms can take in their horses.  Thanks to Won Horse Racing for letting us join their fun!   

That’s all my news for today.  I wanted to pass along a couple of notes—a reminder from Sylvia that if you’ve been to Old Friends, be sure to log on to www.tripadvisor.com and leave your comments.  Also, as we go into the winter months we highly appreciate you making reservations a day or so in advance if you would like a tour, so we can make sure we have a tour guide “in the house”! 

Thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends.  We hope to see you soon!

-Val

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Sunday November 16, 2008

What a difference a few days make.   It was cold today!  We’ve had rain too, so the ground is soft and muddy.  Boy, do the horses love this.  Every single horse was running, bucking, rearing and cavorting today.  Ruhlmann came over for carrots at a brisk trot, and that set Bull off, so he came at a run.  Kiri felt so good he ran the width of his paddock, and then started bucking and rearing straight up on his back legs.  The tour group oohed and ahhed over Kiri–he looked seriously gorgeous.   Awad couldn’t stand that, so he started rearing as well.  Talk about children!   And we won’t even get into how wound up Pops and Ring were….

Swannie is the most active, I suppose.  He bucked and ran constantly this morning, neighing and snorting the entire time.  We had a photographer on the morning tour and I think she got some great shots.   Swannie got Sunshine going, and then Dan ran and bucked and slid in the mud.  Will’s Way ran up and down his fence, racing Marley back and forth.   The Wicked North cantered over for carrots and that got Creator started.   Creator is wearing the special sneakers that Velcro onto his feet.  They give him front leg action like a saddlebred—high and exaggerated.  Funny!   But really, the whole day was something to see.  Everywhere you turned there was a view to savor.  Anyone who wonders if the old guys still have it—they surely do. 

The down side of the cooler, wetter weather—mud.   Only two horses weren’t muddy.  Will’s Way was show-horse clean.  (I hate to call him prissy.  Perhaps fastidious would be a better word!)   Norty was the other clean horse, at least to start.   By the end of the afternoon, everyone was covered from head to toe.   Of course, no one can pack more dirt onto a 15-hand frame than Swannie, but you’ve heard that before. 

We had die-hard tours today.  And for the poor folks from Florida—there was a bit of climate shock!   We had a little red-headed boy who was a perfect hair match for Norty.   He and his little brother kept asking me questions, and they called me “ma’am” each time.  So polite!   

This was a special day for Michael and Diane.  Michael’s son Dylan, his daughter-in-law and 3-year-old grandson Dash arrived today from Australia.  Michael has never looked as thrilled as he did today, and that is saying something.  They are going to have a great visit.

I’ve been home for a couple of hours now and I am finally starting to warm up.  Guess I better get used to it, since winter is clearly on its way.   The schedule tends to be a little less busy at this time of year, yet it’s a great time to come to the farm.  Tour groups are smaller, the horses are more active and no one has a fly mask on!  Just remember –it’s always windy, so dress warmly, wear a hat or ear muffs, and come to see us.  We’ll be looking forward to your visit.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Friday November 7, 2008

A quick Friday evening post, since we’ll be traveling this weekend to New York State (south of Buffalo!) to visit my family. 

I’ve had a lot of questions about Lava Man, so I went straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak (sorry Michael, could not resist that one!) and here is the current scoop.

Michael has spoken to Lava Man’s people and they have decided to winter him in Southern California, since we are getting into our colder weather.  The new plan is for him to come here early in March, arriving in time to enjoy springtime in Kentucky.   Hopefully that gives some of you a little extra time to plan a trip to see him!  I will keep everyone up to date as I hear more information.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend.  We are expecting a cooler weekend here, I think in the 50s–the unusually warm temperatures are gone!  Most of our leaves have dropped from the trees and it is beginning to look like late fall. 

All the horses are doing fine. They will love this cooler weather, especially since we had some gentle rain today to soften up the ground some.  Swannie will start acting like a teenager again, so this weekend’s tours might see some antics!  The new paddock fencing on the “back 40” is coming along.  Hopefully we’ll be ready to move into the new digs soon.   That will be great, although to be honest it’s a bit of a hike to walk all the way back there, and it is uphill!  It’ll be a hike for the intrepid, or else folks with really comfy shoes! ha!

Have a nice weekend, and I’ll see you next Sunday at Old Friends!

-Val

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Sunday November 2, 2008

I know sometimes I tend to brag on the Kentucky weather, but honestly, this weekend was fabulous.  It was maybe 72 degrees and sunny with the barest breeze.  As I write this tonight, the sunset is just awesome.  The entire sky is pink.  It’s something else.

This week, before the Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November sales, is the weekend for the big stud farms to have open houses.  It’s a terrific time to see horses you may not otherwise be able to meet, so if you are ever planning a fall trip to Kentucky, you might want to consider the first weekend in November.   Greg and I went to Lane’s End, Darley and WinStar yesterday.   I have been fortunate to see many wonderful horses, but I don’t think I have ever seen one with the sheer presence of Tiznow.   You about expect this pool of golden light to shine onto him.  He is beautiful, but more than that, it’s how he carries himself.  We also saw some of my other favorite stallions, including Kingmambo, AP Indy, Street Cry and his recently retired son, Street Boss.   Street Boss is a maternal grandson of our own Ogygian.  We also saw one of our all-time favorite characters, Quiet American.  That horse just screams “personality”!

Back at Old Friends, everyone is doing great.  We had a full day of tours today, and we covered the entire farm at one time or another today.  Jake the tour dog took the day off.  He came home after last Sunday a little stiff and sore, so we gave him the week off.  Marley was her usual energetic self.  No dog can look more pathetic and unloved than Marley, when she finds a likely victim for her charms!

Walking toward the back of the farm this morning, we found Kudos waiting for us at his fence.  I don’t talk about Kudos enough, but if I could take one gelding home to be my yard ornament, it would be Kudos.  He is just the nicest horse.  Affirmed Success and Futural came over for some attention as well. 

I think I have mentioned this before, but many times people come to Old Friends to see specific horses.  Usually they have some fond memory of watching the horse race or maybe they also loved his sire or dam.   We had a visitor this morning that was a great fan of Will’s Way.  He and I had a discussion about who we felt was the fastest racehorse on the farm; he felt that Will was one of the fastest horses he had ever seen.  (We did decide that the fastest horse probably wasn’t Swannie!   However, Swannie still holds the dustiest horse award.  He ambles around in a cloud of his own dust!)

All our visitors were very nice, as usual.  But we only a couple of kids visit today, which is not usual.  One very nice young lady was here to visit the University of Kentucky with her parents and younger sister.   We had visitors from Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Ohio.   Everyone seemed to have a great time; in fact the 10 am tour went almost two hours, which is not typical!   My favorite visitor of the day was the lady who worked up her nerve to give a big kiss to Danthebluegrassman.  Her friend took a picture, so the moment is captured forever.  And really, shouldn’t everyone have at least the chance to kiss a horse?

We hope you can visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends!     -Val

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