Monthly Archives: March 2009

Sunday March 29, 2009

I think the gods are punishing me today.  I bragged on the spring weather last week and so, I must pay.  Thirty-seven degrees, blustery, rain and sleet—just a fabulous day to walk around a farm!   The horse either stood tail to the wind and ignored us, or huddled in their run-in sheds and ignored us. There were a few exceptions:  Swannie alternated between running around and eating hay.   Clever Allemont apparently is not bothered by nasty weather; he was happy to wander over for a few treats.  And as always, Pops and Ring refused to use their run-in shed.  They came at a run from the middle of their pasture, where they were grazing and roughhousing.   

We had a number of visitors but no one really wanted to stay outdoors very long, so the barn horses had it made today.  Wallenda got more than his share of treats and The Wicked North probably munched enough carrots to turn himself orange.  (Oh wait; he’s already an orange-colored horse….)   Mighty Mecke, being as his paddock is right next to the barn, did just fine today as well.  Dan and Flick spent the entire day in their run-in shed, only venturing out at about 2:30–long enough to grab a mouthful of treats.  They immediately headed right back into their shed.  Even Silver Charm didn’t seem all that enthused about moving around, although it didn’t really stop him from working the crowd. 

We had people from Chicago, Indianapolis, and Ohio, among others.  This morning a set of triplets, maybe 2 ½ or 3 years old, came with their parents and grandparents.  I was sorry the weather kept us from a full tour as the kids were great.  Each of them gave Norty a big, smacking kiss on the nose.   And to the young lady this afternoon who was wearing those capri jeans—are you warm yet???   Because I shiver just thinking about how cold you must have been. (In your defense I know you came from out-of-town, expecting warmer temperatures.)   I hope you and your mom and sister come back, sometime when the weather is more cooperative and the horses aren’t so muddy for your photos.  I know Wallace Station loved the attention you all gave him.

Last week I mentioned that we are anticipating the arrival of some new stallions.  This week we are welcoming two great old horses—Polish Navy and Glitterman.   Both stallions have been pensioned for some time and their owners have asked us to take them.  While we are a rescue organization, it’s the lucky horses like this that help support the not-so-lucky ones—the Williamstowns, the Leave Seattles, and the Clever Allemonts.   It takes volunteers, supporters, owners, fans, friends, and horses to support Old Friends!

Back to Polish Navy: he is a 25-year-old son of the great Danzig, and a great-grandson of War Admiral on his dam’s side.  He won the Woodward, Champagne, Jim Dandy, and the Dwyer, and earned over a million bucks along the way.  He is also the sire of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero  Glitterman, a 24-year-old grandson of Bold Ruler, won just under $500,000 and is perhaps best known as the sire of millionaire racehorses Champali and Balto Star.  As soon as the fencing in the new stallion neighborhood is ready, they will join us.    

So now, I have to count.  We have sons of Kentucky Derby winners:  Leave Seattle, Williamstown, Kiri’s Clown, Affirmed Success, and Bull inthe Heather.  We have a dam of a Derby winner in Bonnie’s Poker.  And now, with Polish Navy, we’ll have the sire of a Derby winner.  And I’ve probably missed someone.   Oh yeah, Silver Charm thinks he is the Kentucky Derby winner!

By the way, I get a lot of questions about Lava Man and I saw some recent photos of him today.  He looks great—dappled and shiny– and reports are that the treatments he is receiving are helping his ankles. 

Thursday is our fundraiser at O’Neill’s Irish Pub—the “Bada Bing in the Bluegrass” night.  Thanks to everyone who helped set up that event.  Friday is opening day of the Keeneland spring meet and a sure sign that our tours will get very busy.  The Old Friends annual Homecoming is scheduled for May 3, the day after the Kentucky Derby.  We hope you can visit us soon, and maybe join us for one of our upcoming special events.   In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends! 



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Sunday March 22, 2009

Spring has arrived, and here is how I know:  the birds are singing, the grass is green and the trees are starting to flower.  Yes, those are the normal signs of spring, but you know what really tells me spring is here?   It’s the kids!  We must’ve had 20 of them today—little, big, boys, girls, shy, outgoing– they were all here.  Springtime is definitely up and running at Old Friends.

There is so much news this week, too.  The new acreage is ready for horses and on Friday the mares and most of the geldings moved to their new paddocks.  Ruthann and I took a ride up there this morning.  As usual the mares ignored us, but the boys came over to say hello.  Bonapaw has settled in with Kudos, Easy Ellis, and Invigorate and he might be the new ruler of that bunch.   Bonapaw is a medium-sized bay gelding, not very dark, with a white face.  He’s very handsome and has a distinctive body type.  He’s kind of lanky, with long legs.  I will always be able to pick him out in a crowd.  That bunch came over, running and bucking, when we got there.

Siphonizer, Futural and Affirmed Success, in the field next door, were not nearly as rambunctious.  They were more interested in getting to the mints in my pocket than in showing off.  They are a sensible trio of geldings– none of that rough-housing for them.   There’s something about Siphonizer, too.   When he comes over for mints he seems so surprised that someone offered him a treat, and even more surprised at himself for taking it.  He kind of tugs at my heart, and I didn’t see that coming.

The paddocks that previously housed these groups are being subdivided into new stallion housing.  You know, those suburbs just pop up everywhere!  We have the Gramps-Creator-Bull-Mighty Mecke-Wicked North subdivision.  Then there is the Awad-Kiri-Will’s Way-Leave Seattle suburb and the Wallenda-Clever Allemont-Ogygian neighborhood…with more to come!  I know there are a couple stallions waiting to come to Old Friends so we’ll be seeing them soon.   As soon as I get the official word, I’ll let everyone know. But I’m pretty excited about meeting them, and that‘s all I’m going to say!

We were pretty busy today and I have to thank Michael and Tim for taking care of the 10 am tour.  (OK, I admit I was a little late getting to the farm today…)  But once there, I spent some time putting the many, many birthday cards Clever Allemont received into an album.  So, for everyone who sent him a card, when you come to the farm you’ll have to find yours in the book.  Tell you what, that horse got some really cool cards, too!

The one o’clock tour was fun and featured people from Boston, Massachusetts and Wooster, Ohio.  They asked a lot of great questions.  We talked a lot of about jockeys and what a difficult and dangerous job that is, as well as how both the jockeys and the horses are such great athletes.  One lady asked how large jockey saddles are.  I looked at her purse and said, “cut your purse in half, strap it on a horse and off you go.”  I don’t think she believed me!  It was a fun group; we probably could have walked around the farm a second time and had plenty to talk about.  Nice folks.  

At 3 pm, we had so many reservations that Tim Ford kindly took half the tour.  My half consisted of a friend from work (my “real” job), her daughter and a bunch of their friends.  With six kids on this tour it made for a totally different experience.   Not so many grown-up questions and more queries along the lines of “can I give him another carrot?”  So we had a great time just feeding carrots and patting horses.  With all the winter hair shedding out, I’ve been pulling clumps to give to the kids.  They all seem thrilled; mom however probably isn’t too sure why anyone needs a clump of dusty horse hair!   And I sure do get a kick out of seeing kids who aren’t too comfortable with those big horses finally decide to feed and pat them.  Nevertheless, little Madison wasn’t too happy with all that horse slobber; thank you Danthebluegrassman!  But between Fortunate Prospect, Mighty Mecke, The Wicked North, and Clever Allemont you could not ask for a group of kinder, friendlier stallions.   (Sorry Wallenda, you don’t make this list. You’re kind of lacking in social skills, big horse!)

Before I left today I buzzed across the road to see Max a Million and Easy Grades.  Max came over at a dead run, tail in the air.  Don’t know who he was showing off for, probably those pretty yearling fillies across the way.  Easy barely acknowledged me.  I was not nearly as interesting as his green grass. 

That’s about all from here today.  I am glad that winter is over and spring is here.   Now, watch Mother Nature get the last laugh!  Still, it’s great to see the tour schedule pick up.  We hope you can visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday at Old Friends.



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Sunday March 15, 2009

Kentucky is getting greener by the minute it seems, and the horses are pretty happy with it.  It was a pretty quiet day overall:  gray, damp and about 55 degrees.  Not cold, but cool and misty.  At various times today I saw Mighty Mecke, Williamstown, Dan and Will’s Way all running around.   Mecke had his tail up in the air and his neck arched.  Williamstown was racing (or running away from) the tractor as Kent ran the spreader in his paddock.   Dan, though, was just in a hurry to get over to the treat bucket.

Creator, Bull and Fortunate Prospect all took nice long naps this afternoon, as did Swannie, Dan, Wallenda and The Wicked North.  Dan was probably tired after another day of training Flick.  Janet said Flick was running along his fenceline over and over, getting himself all worked up.  Dan just walked over and stood in Flick’s way to stop him.  I know I keep going on about Dan, but he is just the smartest horse and I love to share that. 

I had one tour this afternoon—two women and two little girls.  The older girl, Skyler, was a horse fan and had a great time feeding carrots and mints. I tried to get her to kiss Mecke, but once again no luck.  Of course, by the time I suggested it she had already been slobbered on by Fortunate Prospect, so I guess she figured she’d gotten close enough.  Plus, all the horses were covered with mud and dirt.  Not real kissable, I suppose.   I did pull a clump of winter hair off Gramps and gave it to her.  She carried it all through the tour and once back in the gift shop found an envelope to take her souvenir hair home.

We do have a new horse this week, and another one coming on Tuesday.  The newest boy is a horse named Wallace Station.  He is a son of Capote and a grandson of Seattle Slew.  Wallace Station is a tall, nearly black horse whose owners retired him to Old Friends after his racing career.  He is very friendly with a beautiful, kind face, and he settled in easily.  We have followed this horse’s racing career for awhile, since he is named after the fabulous Wallace Station restaurant that we all love.  I met Wally for the first time with the afternoon tour and he came over to the fence and ate carrots and mints like a pro. 

The new horse arriving this coming week is a rather famous one.  Bonapaw is a millionaire sprinter who took his owners on a journey from Louisiana, all over the United States and to Dubai for the World Cup.  It’s a cool story; we’ll share more of it over the coming weeks.  But suffice it to say we’re more than a little excited about his impending arrival.  Bonapaw won the Taylor’s Special Handicap, which is named after one of our stallions who is buried at Old Friends.  We love those kinds of connections!

By now everyone has probably heard that Lava Man is undergoing a series of stem cell treatments in California, aimed at repairing the racing damage to cartilage in his ankles.  Thus, his arrival and the Lava Man Luau have been postponed until June.   Our annual homecoming is still on schedule for May 3, and we have a party at O’Neill’s Irish Pub in the planning stages for the evening prior to Keeneland’s opening day.   If you are going to be in Kentucky in early April or early May, we’d love to have you join us at one of the events.  More information is available on the website.  In the meantime, as the weather gets nicer, our regular tours are on schedule every day. We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.



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Sunday March 8, 2009

Last weekend if you squinted, closed one eye, and tilted your head you could just about see the faintest green tinge in the paddocks at Old Friends.  By this morning you didn’t need to squint, and by this afternoon the fields are definitely showing green.   It was much nicer today than last week although the wind, while warm, is blowing hard.  Yesterday we were well into the 70s, and today was maybe 67 degrees.  All the horses have that little extra bit of spunk that says “springtime.”

I began my day, as I often do, by taking a brush to Wallenda.  You all know I am unapologetically partial to him, but he looked so handsome.  His black mane and forelock are really long and thick these days (much to Janet’s dismay—she doesn’t like the shaggy look) and after being brushed he was nice and shiny.  Someone on a tour today remarked on what pretty eyes Wallenda has, and he does– very bright and curious.  I also spent a few minutes with Fortunate Prospect.  For his age, 28, he looks terrific—shiny and fit.  He still maintains his daily routine—a little exercise every afternoon, followed by a nice nap and then some dinner.   His grandson, Mighty Mecke, looks and acts so much like him.  Except for the daily nap of course—Mecke is far too young for that!  What they have most in common though, is their kind heart.

Clever Allemont is doing really well too.  But I agree with Michael; I think he does have some hearing loss.  While a horse may choose to ignore you when you call, they will almost always at least flick an ear in your direction.  Monty doesn’t do that, and if you are on his blind side, he can’t see you either.  Last week we had to walk around the corner of his paddock to get to the side of his good eye, and as soon as he saw us he came over.  The same thing happened today.   And how about this:  Monty is in the paddock that used to house Dan.  So guess who else likes the chives growing in that paddock?  Yes, Monty had his very own case of onion breath today!  The only difference is that Dan will push his nose right into your face and breath.  Thankfully Monty is a little more discreet.  You just haven’t experienced onion breath until you’ve experienced horse-sized onion breath!

As you know, because of their aggressive nature each of the stallions has his own paddock.  However, geldings aren’t that aggressive and thus are in paddocks with other geldings.  Generally, geldings are more like teen-aged boys in nature—playful and rambunctious.   They grab at each other, pulling and yanking on each other’s manes and halters. There is any number of broken, ripped, or torn halters hanging in the barn, having been replaced on one horse or another.  Pops and Ring have managed to be completely halter-free for awhile now.  So it wasn’t a surprise today to see Kudos, off in the distance, with the noseband missing from his halter.  Or so I thought.  Once I got closer, I saw where Kudos, or one of his buddies, had managed to slip the noseband of his halter down over his nose and into his mouth.  Kudos was happily chewing on his halter, drooling and slobbering all over.   When I fixed it, I thought Kudos actually looked disappointed that I took his new toy away from him.  By now, it’s probably back into his mouth.  

I had to chuckle at Silver Charm today.  Kent walked his horse Cowboy past Charmie’s paddock and what did Silver Charm do?  Yes, he puffed himself up and ran over to antagonize Cowboy.  Now, here is Cowboy, all 16-plus hands and 1200 pounds, trying to buck and kick at Silver Charm.  And here is Silver Charm, acting like he’s 17 hands and 1400 pounds of big, mean stallion. I know.  We’ve tried and tried to gently break the news to him:  he is a mini who weighs maybe 275 pounds.  Don’t mess with the big dogs.  Doesn’t matter, he covers his ears with that over-abundance of mane and ignores reality.   Silver Charm has no self-esteem issues at all!  

With the exception of the mares (next week!), I was able to visit with every horse at the main farm today.  I also stopped across the road to Summerwind to see Easy Grades and Max a Million.  (And those Summerwind yearling fillies.  So cute!)  Lots of winter hair is flying.  Some of the horses, like Kiri’s Clown and Will’s Way, shed out more or less evenly.  Their coats just gradually shed until they are left with their short summer coats.  Others, like Pops and Max, shed unevenly.  They seem to keep the longest hairs mixed amongst the shorter ones.  Last year Pops hung onto those random long hairs well into May, if not June.  Max appears to be shedding that same way.   But every horse looks happy and I saw lots of trotting, cantering and bucking today.   This is a great time to visit the farm because the horses are so active—once the really hot weather gets here, a lot of napping goes on!  We are all looking forward to our busy tour season and we hope you can visit us soon.  Until then, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.



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Sunday March 1, 2009

Not exactly springtime weather today, but if you looked past the cold, steady wind there were some encouraging signs.  The sun was shining, the horses were picking their way through the faintest growth of new green grass, and winter coats are starting to shed.   Nevertheless, it’s going to take me awhile to warm up now that I am home.

We had several nice groups of people visiting today; I think we had about 20 in total.  Among them were some folks who didn’t know a thing about racing, so they asked questions about basic horse stuff.  We talked about things like how long horses live and are they smart (YES!), and how only Thoroughbreds can race in the Kentucky Derby.  The horses must have known we had rookies.  When someone asked if the horses ever run around, Awad answered by racing up to his fence and rearing straight up on his back legs.   Sunshine came at a run (always impressive to see) and Dan cantered beautifully across his field, as did Kiri.  Of course, for every showoff there was a Williamstown who barely glanced over or a Leave Seattle stretched out for a nap and totally not interested!    Once the people left for the day, all the horses turned their tails to the wind, or stood in their shelters and went right back to their naps.  It was like a movie—lights, camera, action.  Until the audience left, then…nothing!  It’s definitely time for tour season to gear up.

For the first time in awhile, Siphonizer, Affirmed Success and Futural were lined up at their fence waiting to see us.   Futural and Affirmed Success are great people horses but today even Siphonizer did well, taking his share gently and letting people pat his face.   When Siphonizer first came to the farm he wasn’t too sure about being fussed over, but today he was outgoing and confident.  You have to think the horses talk amongst themselves, telling the new horses what to expect and how to behave.  Of course, they communicate nicely with us, too.  When I talked too much, rather than give him carrots, Ogygian stuck out his nose and pushed me.  Everyone got his message, too, laughing at me while Ogie looked mighty pleased with himself.

Speaking of horse communication, Dan brought Flick over for treats when we got to their paddock this afternoon.  Flick’s education continues, though, because Dan had to make it clear that he is the star and Flick merely his sidekick— Ed McMahon to Dan’s Johnny Carson, Tonto to his Lone Ranger.   After a little bump and shove, they got it settled:  Dan was first in line for treats and Flick second.  Sometimes they might as well speak, you know?  Once we moved on, Dan laid down for a little naptime in the sunshine with Flick standing next to him, keeping an eye out.

Among the visitors today was a little girl named Caroline.  As is usually the case with little girls, she had no fear.  I tried to get her to give a kiss to Mighty Mecke or The Wicked North but she declined.  She did say she wants to come back, “when it’s warm” so maybe next time, Caroline!

Backtracking a little, last evening was the Seelbach Hotel event in Louisville, “Old Friends along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.”  It was a great success and a lot of fun.   The Seelbach Hotel is very historic, and their Rathskellar is a room completely created of Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery—walls, arched ceilings, pillars and whimsical pelican statuary.  Very cool.  The food was terrific, and matched well with the various bourbon samples from seven distilleries.  A heartfelt thank-you to the Seelbach Hotel and the master distillers from Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Makers Mark, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace.  (The Seelbach’s bourbon pineapple soup appetizer?  I know it sounds unusual but….yum!)    And here’s a little tidbit I discovered at the party last night and am going to share:  there is a series of Old Friends posters in the works.  We saw four of the proofs last night and the photography is just beautiful.   Look for them soon; they are going to be very much worth having. 

Now if spring would just…spring!   Next up—we await the arrival of Lava Man and follow that with the Lava Man Luau.  Details are on the website.  The horses are also waiting for spring, and winter hair is about to start flying.  I didn’t brush Wallenda today but I bet by next weekend I’ll get a mouthful of hair when the brush gets going!   Still, I am looking forward to having more tours and meeting more people.  I know the horses are ready for the attention and extra treats, too.  We hope you will visit us soon.  Until then, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!


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