Sunday February 15, 2009

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

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Sunday February 15, 2009

  1. Gayle

    How sad that you lost another of your champions. My sincere sympathy goes to all of you there and to his people.

  2. Viv and Bea

    Val – I am so sorry about Stage. The one thing I am glad for in these sad times…your tributes to them on this blog. As I have said before – you sure do understand them. I am so sad that we did not have more time with Stage but to know he was loved is a blessing. Thank you. Viv

  3. One of my favorite memories of being there was Stage Colony’s utter indifference to our presence–he was lying in the middle of his paddock, sleeping and sunning himself–treats and visitors were inconsequential.

    I’m sorry for the loss…and I’ll miss seeing him on my next visit.

  4. Jean

    Sorry to hear about Stage Colony. My sympathy goes out to everyone at Old Friends and also his people. It is so good to know that he lived out his final months in such a great place around people that loved and cared for him so much.

  5. Mary Williams

    So sorry to hear of your loss, the last few months have had highs and lows….I never met Stage Colony, but did have the opportunity to meet Pleasant Colony and followed his racing career.

  6. Ruth Ann

    Am so, so sorry to read about your losing Stage Colony 😦 The one comforting thought is that he was surrounded by loving people in all of you at Old Friends.

  7. Our hearts break for you. The ladies at Our Mims Retirement Haven wish to send their condolences, as well. It is never easy to lose a friend but it is especially hard when said friend is so much bigger than life itself.

    Goodbye, Stage Colony. See you on the other side.

  8. LindaVA

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Stage Colony. I wish I’d had the chance to meet him.

  9. Susan Allen

    So sorry to hear this news…I hate he will not be there to meet on my next visit…..Val, will Stage Colony be buried at Old Friends and is there a picture of him somewhere on the website? My sympathies to his “people”…I’m so glad they had such great love for their friend…wish that were the case for all everywhere!! Take care and thanks for your message.

    • oldfriendsblog

      thanks to everyone for your words of sympathy. We appreciate them all. To answer some questions: I am going to assume he’ll be buried at Old Friends, but I am not totally sure. I’ll let everyone know ASAP. I do know that we will be having memorials for Flying Pidgeon and Ruhlmann sometime this spring, so I am sure we’ll include Stage Colony in that.

      For Susan, we do have pics on the website, but, if you want to see more of Stage Colony’s personality, link to Teresa’s Brooklyn Backstretch blog here for some pics of him.

      -Val

  10. MRO

    So sorry for the loss of Stage Colony! My heart goes out to Old Friends & his people.

  11. Susan Allen

    Val, sweet pictures of him…looks like he made a great “couch” potato!… I’ll keep looking for news about the memorials when available. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Val, I so appreciate your posts and updates on the Old Friends blog. I talked to Michael yesterday and it was a roller coaster–celebrating the progress of Clever Allemont and mourning the loss of Stage Colony. Though we know this is an inevitable part of the circle of the life, it doesn’t make it any easier. We can’t make them live forever, but it doesn’t stop us from wishing we could. Just have to settle for how they manage to live on in history, in our memories and of course, in our hearts. Peace and love to all at Old Friends.

    Kristin

  13. Rich Hoffmann

    I have been reading this blog for months now but this is the first time I have known that you could respond (slow learner?) Anyhow I was very sorry to hear of Stage Colony’s passing. I haven’t been down to the farm in a couple of years and was looking forward to meeting him as well as all the other “newbies”. I’m hoping to get down for Lava Man’s Luau. I am so proud to have share certs and pics for Sunshine and Taylor’s Special on my wall over my desk. Val, you do a great job with this blog. Hope to meet you in a couple of months. Rich

  14. Gary Drake

    I was saddened to read about the passing of Stage Colony. I had the privledge of owning Stage while he raced as a 4 and 5 year old. We acquired him from Mr Evans who owned Pleasant Colony and bred him. He was a graded stakes winning turf horse who unleashed big sweeping moves from the back and “flew” by them all on many occasions. He was a little fellow (probably no more than 15-2 hands) with a big heart. I am pleased to hear he retained his friendly personality throughout his life. When he was at the racetrack, he was always a friendly guy who loved peppermints and grazing in the afternoon sun. I am pleased to hear that he lived out his days surrounded by caring owners and friends.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Gary,
      Thank you very much for writing this note. We are always so happy to hear from the various people the horses have been associated with throughout their lives. They do leave great memories with us, don’t they? If you are in Kentucky, please come visit us.
      And yes, Stage loved treats and sunshine right up to his last day!

      -Val

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