Monthly Archives: January 2009

January 28 – Winter Storm Update

Tonight, just before dinner, as the wind died down and the snow stopped, Will’s Way galloped across his paddock. It seemed, for a moment, that he was running faster than when he bested Formal Gold and Skip Away in the Whitney. I know alot of the friends of Old Friends are very concerned about the negative effects of the winter storm on our retirees. They all seemed to enjoy it. Except for maybe Awad who spent most of the day in his run-in shed. Janet, Kent, Alberto, Diane and I teamed-up to make sure all their needs were met. It takes a little longer in inclement weather but…and I know this is hard to believe…it’s fun. Like getting a snow day off from school. Clever Allemont, who only goes out during the day, has gained considerable weight since his arrival and he trots around in the snow acting as if he owns the place. In fact, he and his other retirees do…after all, no one’s coming to visit us. It’s the stars they want to see. I just can’t thank everyone enough for your help in helping Old Friends grow…and allowing me to have the exhilarating experience of feeding them horse treats (courtesy of Karen Deibert) every night. I can’t imagine ever being as happy as I am tonight.

Michael

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Sunday January 25, 2009

Times just flies, doesn’t it? It’s the end of January already—amazing.  And it was a typically cold and gray winter day with not too much happening.  I think the horses were kind of bored–no one had much energy.  Even Pops and Ring barely worked up enough ambition to amble over.  Usually you can count on them, and Swannie, to show some spark.  Not today.  Mostly, the horses were just hanging out, munching their hay.  

Dan was probably the most active, walking over to greet me every time I passed by his paddock.   Dan doesn’t even bother to wait for me to feed him carrots.  He just goes right ahead and buries his nose in the bucket, taking what he wants.  The four geldings in the big field were all lined up at their fence hoping for treats, so I walked over and gave everyone a cookie.  Kudos, Bingo, Easy and Invigorate are a nice group—they all appreciate the attention.  You just have to make sure you give each one the same number of handouts, or there is trouble.  Yes, I believe they can count…

Affirmed Success was at the back part of his field, but Futural was happy to come over to say hi.  Siphonizer couldn’t be bothered to take the 5 or 6 steps over to get a treat—he was standing right smack in the middle of the hay pile, happily hogging all the food. 

Stage Colony took his afternoon nap, once again stretched out flat on his side.  He sleeps so soundly that not much wakes him.  Case in point:  today a coyote ran across his field while he was napping.  I don’t think the horse even twitched an ear!  Not to worry though, coyotes are no threat to the horses.  The one today, a little grayish-brown guy, ran across Stage Colony’s paddock, ducked under the fence into Williamstown’s field, crossed into Pops and Ring’s field and ran down over the hill toward Leave Seattle.  While you tend to hear them at night, it’s not that unusual to see one during the day.  I know a lot of people think of coyotes as a nuisance, or worse, but really they are pretty little animals.

I had a couple of ladies on a tour this afternoon and they commented on how well-fed Special Ring is looking.  Of course, they phrased it more politely, calling him “short-coupled.”   Awad was hanging out in his run-in shed.  Don’t think he is enjoying the cold weather; I think he is yearning for spring.  I have to agree.

The biggest news of the week is that we have a new horse.  His name is Flick.  He is a gelded son of Kris, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, and was bred in Great Britain.  Somewhat ironically, Flick had a connection to Old Friends even before he arrived.  He once won The Wicked North Stakes, a race named after our own Norty.   Flick is a tall, lanky, reddish bay horse and is very friendly, coming right over for treats and attention.  With Norty, Mecke, Clever Allemont and Stage Colony all arriving within the past couple months, we have some fantastically friendly new boys for the springtime tour season.   Although to tell you the truth, Monty is considerably more interested in his food.  That horse just loves to eat.  I’m going to guess that by the end of May he’ll be a little pudgy!   Still, he came over for treats and stuck his nose over the fence for some pats.  Then, he turned around and headed straight back to his hay pile.

As I said, I am looking forward to spring.  We are supposed to have some winter weather this week, but once we get into February it will seem that much closer to springtime.  Tour season will pick up, and we look forward to meeting new friends, as well as having old friends return to see us.   In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Sunday January 18, 2009

It was a wintery day in central Kentucky today, with snow flurries and temperatures in the upper 20s.  Thankfully, the frigid cold of earlier this week has retreated, as did the blustery winds we had yesterday.  It was a slippery mess on Ironworks Pike this morning but by early this afternoon it was kind of nice—brisk and slightly snowy but not uncomfortable.  Great horse weather too, since the mud has firmed up but not frozen really hard.  Lots of action today: trotting, running and general showing off!

Usually, our new residents are boys—stallions or geldings.  But this week we have a new resident and she is responsible for a good part of the action today.  Her name is Hidden Lake and she is a 1997 Eclipse Award winner.   For those of you who, like me, are fascinated by breeding and bloodlines, Hidden Lake is a daughter of Quiet American.  Her broodmare sire is Round Table and you just don’t see Round Table this close in many pedigrees anymore.  Add to that, Quiet American is one of my favorite stallions ever, a real character!  Hidden Lake is a beautiful bay mare who just exudes class.  She settled in with our other mares-Bonnie’s Poker, Narrow Escape, and Cozy Miss- like she has always been here. 

Having a new “hottie” mare on-site has gotten some of the boys all worked up.  Stage Colony hasn’t left his back fence.  He keeps trying, and failing, to get her attention.  Siphonizer is fascinated by her and has been hanging out near the mare pasture as well.   I noticed even Williamstown was standing at the high part of his paddock, trying to catch a glimpse of the new gal.  All three of the boys were happy to get their treats, but still they kept one eye on the ladies.

As the only gray horse on the main farm, Bull inthe Heather stands out in the crowd.  Between the mud and the ice, today he managed to cut his left back coronet just above his hoof.  He didn’t bleed much, but the red against his white leg was noticeable.  Kent cleaned out the cut and used inky blue wound medicine on both of Bull’s back feet.   Now Bull looks like he has bright blue ankle socks on both back feet.   It’s comical looking, but then Bull is a funny guy.  He’s more than willing to take a bite at you if you are walking around with treats.  But today, as soon as the lead was clipped to his halter, he knew it was time for business and he stood perfectly still while his feet were being cared for.   

And speaking of Kent, as you may know he trains racehorses and is a very knowledgeable horseman.  But that doesn’t matter when the horses are still better at training us.  The horses normally get their hay either in a hayrack or on the ground somewhere in their paddocks.  But when he passed out hay today, Kent conveniently put Mighty Mecke’s hay just outside his shed, so that Mecke could stand inside and still reach his munchies.  Now, tell me, who is in charge there?  I’m pretty sure it’s the horse! 

As always, I brought dogs Jake and Marley with me to the farm today.   Jake prefers the colder weather and he lopes around, but really doesn’t pay much attention to the horses.   Marley, on the other hand, is very curious and often ends up nose to nose with the horses.  Creator and Dan always come right over to check her out.  And for some reason, both Williamstown and Will’s Way like to race her.  Will’s Way though, actually challenges her—he drops his head, snorts at her, tosses his head and starts to trot.  Marley starts running and Will arches his neck to keep pace with her, tilting his head to watch.  They reach the end of Will’s paddock and turn around to do it again.  It’s really cute.  Will doesn’t do that with Jake, so it must be some connection with Marley.   I need a video camera. 

Sunshine was feeling playful today, too.  He kept rubbing his head against me, then dancing around and snorting.  I sure hope he didn’t think I was going to race him.  Not even a chance, Sunshine!   Awad was hanging out in his shed with just his head out, watching the snow fall, but Kiri was a little wound up.  He looked beautiful, cantering with his neck arched and his tail like a flag.  Leave Seattle wandered over to say hi and then wandered off again, back to his hay.

Clever Allemont is doing great.  He crunched some carrots and mints—didn’t take him long to figure out that routine—but he was really more interested in blowing bubbles in his water.  Just like a big, horsey, kid, isn’t it?   Monty is the cutest little guy; he must be half the size of Sunshine.   He even makes Swannie look larger.   But he is very kind and I think he is thankful for every treat and pat on the nose.   It’s probably safe to say he has more fans now than he ever did as a racehorse!   I imagine a lot of Clever Allemont fans will visit us this summer.

That’s all the news from here.  Lots of fun stuff is in the planning stage for this spring and summer at Old Friends.  But it’s always about the horses, and we have a farm full of really terrific ones.  We hope you can come visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

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Sunday January 11, 2009

I have a confession to make.  As much as I genuinely enjoy giving tours and meeting the fans who come to visit Old Friends, I rather enjoy days like today.  I pretty much had the farm to myself.  I spent a little time chatting with Michael and Diane, but other than that it was just me, Jake, Marley, and the horses.   And added to that:  yesterday I saw, among others, Curlin, AP Indy, Big Brown, and Smarty Jones, as well as my favorite racehorse ever, Point Given.  Let’s see, between them that group of horses won two Kentucky Derbies, four Preaknesses, two Belmonts, and a couple of Breeder’s Cup Classics.  Truly, if you are a horse fan, there is no better place than central Kentucky.  Am I spoiled here or what?  I know.  I almost feel guilty!

While it rained all day yesterday, today it was cloudy and cold with little wind, a perfectly good day to be a horse.  A couple of times I didn’t know which way to turn—do I watch Pops and Ring run and buck, or do I turn around and see who was thundering behind me?  Everyone was feisty and active today.  Kiri ran across his field like a youngster, and even Leave Seattle cantered over to his gate for a treat.  He never does that!   Creator was fascinated by the horses that live at the farm next door.  He was alternately prancing in circles, then snorting and blowing with his tail up, ears pricked, and his neck arched.  Gorgeous.   He sure does not look, or act, like he is 23 years old.   While Creator was getting all worked up, Fortunate Prospect was letting me know he was unhappy with my pocket full of mints.  He spit two of them out, giving me a disgusted look, and yes, I walked back to the office for carrots.  He was much happier once the carrots were in hand, and I am clearly at his beck and call.

I stopped next at Clever Allemont’s paddock.  My apologies to everyone who knows him as “Allers” but once again he pricked his cute little ears and came over as soon as I called out “Monty.”  He took a couple of mints, patiently waiting while I unwrapped the stubborn candies, and then decided to show off a little.  He ran two laps around his paddock for me, bucking and executing several perfect flying lead changes.  Monty’s ribs are no longer showing, and he hangs out near Swannie much of the time.  They munch their hay in unison and seem to get along very nicely.  Monty looks great and seems really content, although maybe his association with Swan’s Way has had one negative result:  Monty was even muddier than my little pigpen Swannie!

I took advantage of the quiet day to brush Wallenda, who always enjoys the attention.  Last week, Wallenda nipped me hard enough to leave a bruise and maybe he felt bad about it, because he was exceptionally nice today.  He loves having his face brushed and closes his eyes so I can get every part of his face.  I also spent some time with the Wicked North, who was only moderately dirty today.   He knew I had treats, and he kept trying to wiggle his nose into my jacket pocket to get at them.  He’s very gentle about it, too.

I refilled my pockets and went to see Dan, Stage Colony and little Silver Charm.  Michael was trying to clean Charmie’s hooves and Charmie was being somewhat uncooperative.  (I think Charmie laughs at us most of the time!)  Williamstown trotted over for a treat and then wheeled away and cantered around his paddock.   He likes to race Marley and the two of them, dog and horse, ran the length of the fence.  Pops and Ring were patiently awaiting some treats, so I gave each of them a horse cookie and a pat.  Next door, Awad is always more than a little jealous of any attention given to Pops and Ring.  When Awad got his treat he took off at a run, digging in so hard he threw clumps of dirt, grass, and mud 20 feet in the air behind him.  I was afraid for a second that he was going to run right into the fence, but he stopped just in time to rear straight up on his hind legs.  Awad is 19 this year and still a complete show-off.   Beautiful, though.

One thing about Michael and Diane: they keep treats stashed everywhere—for horses, dogs, cats, and people.   Treats can be found in the office, the barn, the house, and the garage if you know where to look.  Jake and Marley keep an eye out for Diane and head right over when they see her, knowing that she keeps treats handy.  I tried to make sure I had a cookie for everyone today but Sunshine begged the ones I was keeping for Swannie and Mecke, so I poked through the garage.  Sure enough, plenty of mints on hand!  So Swannie got a handful of mints and so did Mecke.  They didn’t complain a bit. 

As you can tell, it was a pretty quiet day at the farm.   I know that Sylvia and Ruthann are deep into the planning for the Lava Man Luau, as well as a number of other events and happenings that are in the works for the coming spring and summer.  Keep an eye on the Old Friends website for details.  In the meantime, we hope you can visit us soon.  Thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Sunday January 4, 2009

After a kind of whirlwind weekend, things settled down at the farm today.  The weather likely contributed to the quiet day, for while it was warm -nearly 60-it was cloudy and drizzly all day. 

Kristin and Rodney, who rescued Clever Allemont and drove him to Kentucky, left for their long drive back to Kansas shortly after 11am.  They left with lots of Old Friends gifts, calendars and t-shirts.  I saw Kristin stop for one last photo as they pulled out of the drive.  I bet they’ll be back!

Speaking of our newest celebrity, I went over to visit Clever Allemont this morning in his paddock.  He is still entirely enamored with his alfalfa, but I tried to get him to come over to say hello.  I tried calling his old nickname, “Allers.”  No response.   I tried “Clever.”  Not even an ear flick.  I even went with “Old Man,” which he answered to in Kansas.  (I hate to use “old.”  I like to let the boys maintain their illusions of youth!)  Again, no response.   Finally, I tried “Monty.”  He picked up his head and walked right over to me.  So, I guess Monty it is. 

In any case, Monty is doing just fine.   Like I said, for the most part the hay has his entire attention.  Still, this morning he was jogging around his paddock for a bit, and getting to know his nearest neighbor, Swan’s Way.  This afternoon we had a tour; Monty again took his sweet time leaving his hay but eventually we were able to entice him with carrots and mints.  He needs to gain a few pounds, and he will, but other than that he looks great.

The arrival of a new horse always causes an upheaval for a day or two, as everyone figures out the new guy.  Add to that the nice weather and all the horses feel great.  On Friday, Shane the dog scared our ever-expanding flock of resident Canada geese.  That got Will’s Way running and bucking.  He loves to run and it invariably causes a chain reaction.  Once Will started running, Sunshine had to join in.  Then Swannie, then Mecke, then Bull and Ogie…even Fortunate Prospect loped across his field!  (At 28 years old, you don’t see Gramps do that too often!)  But each horse moves differently.  Will runs fast and hard.  Ogygian is extremely light and balanced on his feet.  He has moves that would make a Lipizzaner proud.  On the other hand, Sunshine is completely different.  He is like a jumbo jet:  it takes him a few strides to overcome the inertia of his big body.  But once he breaks free, he moves with unbelievable power.  He is my favorite horse to watch when he runs.

We had some rain last night, adding to the ever-present mud at his time of year, so all the horses are covered from head to hoof.  Tim Ford worked for an hour today to clean Dan, and it lasted all of two minutes once Dan was back outside.   I kind of felt bad for Tim—all that work.   And Dan made absolutely sure Tim was watching when he went down for that roll.  Really—Dan looked at Tim, looked at the ground, looked at Tim again, laughed and down he went.  I think Dan has a well-developed horse sense of humor!

This afternoon I had a tour with six people.  We were able to dodge the raindrops and had a nice time visiting with the horses.  Everyone was taken with Mecke and Norty, as usual.   Ogie nickered at us until he made sure we weren’t going to pass him by.  Stage Colony, aka “Coach” doesn’t like to miss a treat, unless of course he is napping.  Not much interrupts a good nap for him!   Even Siphonizer is learning to come over for treats.  As you know, he is in a field with Futural and Affirmed Success.  I keep trying to get a picture of the three of them together.  They are such a good-looking trio–chestnut, bay and black, each with a different facial marking.  And I could have gotten that photo today.  Unfortunately, it was hard to tell them apart because of the mud!   But I am very glad to see Siphonizer coming over for treats.  He needs the love, I think. 

Before I end for today, I want to say thank you to all the people who read this blog each week.  We can track the number of readers we have and it’s been great to see the readership steadily grow each week.   A special hi to my parents in New York State, who are among the blog readers.   

The New Year has begun and in a very good way with the arrival of Clever Allemont.  It’s going to be great to watch him blossom over the next months.  Keeneland Spring Meet tickets go on sale February 1, a sure sign spring is getting closer.  Soon enough we’ll be back to a full tour schedule at the farm.   We hope you can visit us sometime soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

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Friday January 2, 2009

He’s here! 

Clever Allemont arrived at Old Friends this evening, just before 7 pm.  He got off the trailer, walked into the barn and into his new stall.  He immediately dropped his head into a waiting pile of alfalfa and that was that!  He wouldn’t even take a treat—the hay was all he wanted.  After about 10 minutes of intense munching, he took one lap around his stall and went right back to the alfalfa.

He was wearing his handsome royal blue blanket so it was hard to tell, but I can say he is not a very big horse—for those of you who have been to the farm he is maybe a smidge bigger than Leave Seattle and slightly bigger boned than Awad.  His bad eye is milky white.  But when I went into the stall with him, he was happy enough to be patted and talked with.  As long as I didn’t interrupt his eating, he was fine!  

Clever Allemont’s stall is right next to Wallenda, in the stall that used to belong to Ruhlmann.   Wallenda goes outside at night, but he will be a comforting presence next door as Clever Allemont gets to know his new “digs.”  I’ll post more on Sunday, as usual, so stayed tuned for updates.

-Val

P.S. A special thanks to Ralph Quillin, of Quillin’s Leather, who drove all the way to Old Friends tonight with Clever’s brand new halter, so he would have it when he arrived. 

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