Stage Colony 1987-2009
We lost one of our newest Old Friends this weekend. Stage Colony died early this morning after becoming ill and colicking. His last day, yesterday, was spent greeting visitors and making new friends. As much as any horse at Old Friends, he enjoyed the attention that came with his new job at the farm.
Stage Colony was a very handsome bay stallion who arrived at Old Friends just last November. A son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony, Stage Colony himself was a Grade III winner of over $300,000.
In so many ways, we were just getting to know Stage Colony. Still, there are some things you knew right away. Like this– Stage Colony was a more than a little bit of a character. He supervised everything that went on around him; he wanted you to think he was large and in-charge, the biggest, coolest stud out there. When Stage Colony first arrived at the farm he spent days roaming his paddock fenceline challenging the nearby geldings, checking out the mares, and making sure everyone knew he was “in the house.” Even though we learned quickly that it was mostly an act, he worked hard to maintain his aura. But as he got used to the flow of activity at the farm, Stage Colony began to stretch out in the middle of his paddock every afternoon for a snooze. Naptime was the only time Stage Colony went off-duty. A couple of weeks ago, we watched as a coyote ran within 15 or 20 feet of Stage Colony as he slept. He didn’t even flick an ear.
As is true for most horses when they first arrive at Old Friends, Stage Colony needed some time to understand what tours and buckets mean. At first he wasn’t always interested in visitors, especially during that designated nap time. But it didn’t take too long for him to realize that groups of people meant treats and adulation. He began to demonstrate an affinity for kids—just yesterday he had some very young visitors, gently taking treats and letting them pat his nose. Show up with enough visitors, and even sleeping was negotiable. So much for big and bad!
A couple weeks ago I walked to the part of the farm where Stage Colony’s paddock was—next to Ogygian, across from Affirmed Success, Futural and Siphonizer, and behind the small barn. Ogie nickered until I went to give him some carrots. The geldings ignored me in favor of their hay. But Stage Colony just stood at his fence with his ears pricked, quietly watching me and patiently waiting for his turn. I gave him a carrot and a couple peppermints; he stretched out his nose to gently nuzzle my shoulder, turned around and cantered over to his back fence, once again distracted by the four mares a long paddock away. I think that was Stage Colony in a nutshell—aware, watchful, loving treats and enjoying attention, but really, mostly just interested in the girls!
Stage Colony was a terrific horse in many ways, not in the least because of his “people.” They came to visit him every week, bringing treats and love to their boy. I felt bad for them today, coming to the farm with tears in their eyes. Every horse should be that fortunate, to be loved and cared for with such devotion throughout their life. While I know that we at Old Friends will miss Stage Colony, his people will miss him far, far more. And because of that, wasn’t Stage Colony a fine and lucky horse? -Val