Sunday June 14, 2009

It was another warm, humid day in central Kentucky, although I can’t complain because we didn’t get any thunderstorms during the afternoon.  It’s a little after 6 pm now, and the storms are firing up, so we were lucky.  We had a full day of tours, lots of people, some kids and one handsome german shepherd!

First thing this morning, I got out of my car and heard a little voice sing out “hey, it’s me, Braden!  I’m back to visit Dan!”  Braden was last at the farm on Mother’s Day weekend, and during that visit Dan and Braden really bonded—Dan kept ticking his new friend until Braden couldn’t stop giggling.  Dan was not into tickling today but he was happy to visit with his buddy.  Today’s visit, as usual, involved lots of carrots, a few mints and some photos.  I am pretty sure Braden will be back again before the summer is over.

All the horses were very well-behaved today.  Most of them usually are, but there is always one who is a little obnoxious.  But even the hoodlums, Pops and Ring, behaved themselves today.   Creator took carrots like a gentleman and one or two ladies were able to sneak in a pat on his nose.  He must be mellowing, because I swear he liked it! 

Swannie was in his run-in shed out of the sun.  He might even possibly have passed on the treats, preferring to snooze, but as soon as he saw Escape getting attention it was just too much to bear.  Out he came, tossing his head and trying his best to distract the crowd.  It was kind of funny.   

The other one who got all worked up was Awad (of course!)  This afternoon we had the aforementioned german shepherd on the tour.  While he was leashed and extremely well-behaved, for some reason neither Awad nor Sunshine liked this dog. They both did the “I am stallion” thing—prancing and snorting with their necks arched.   After a few seconds Sunshine decided it was too much effort to be upset, but Awad never did want that dog around.  Considering how much Jake, Marley, Duncan and Shane are on the farm, it was kind of surprising.   But that’s Awad—something different in his routine and he gets all worked up.   He’s a creature of habit for sure.

Along with Braden, we had Haley this afternoon.   Haley and her dad are from Utah, making a “horse trip” to Lexington.  Haley is one of those young teen-aged girls who loves horses, and who horses love in return.  She fed them all, but I think Kiri liked her best.   (He’s still clearly miffed at me over my refusal to remove the grazing muzzle.)  He barely acknowledged me today, and took right to Haley instead.  Later this afternoon, several ladies on the tour reached over the fence to scratch Kiri’s back, so he was mostly happy.  He looks great, though, and the grazing muzzle is doing its job.  (Now that I think of it, there was a lot of back scratching going on today. Bull had a couple of fans taking care of his itches, as did Dan, Charmie, Escape and Gramps.) 

Speaking of Bull, if you’ve been to the farm in the last year or so, you know he has those special rubber shoes in his front feet—the ones that are affixed to his hoof wall with acrylic.  One lady today called them his “French tip manicure.”  A way too girly description for macho man Bull, but kind of true, too!  Bull was very well-behaved today—not once did he even try to take a nip at anyone.  I think it was the back scratching; he figured he better not scare anyone away. 

At one point, we had part of the group admiring Bull, while some folks fed Gramps.  That was enough to get Clever Allemont over to look for treats too.  He got his share, and was especially gentle with the kids.  I’ve said this before, but we are fortunate to have some exceptionally nice stallions. We had some horse people today who commented they never met such nice stallions.  I love to hear that, although do you think maybe I am biased, just a little?

The last tour of the day featured twin girls; I guess 3 or 4 years old.  Mom told me one was an animal person and the other was not, but as usual the horses and Marley won them over.  Both girls fed carrots, patted noses and generally enjoyed themselves.  By the end of the tour they were sitting in the shade with Marley, one on each side, climbing all over her.   Small children are Marley’s favorite thing, so she just sat there grinning.  I imagine there are some cute photos.

Before I wrap up, I want to let everyone know there won’t be a blog entry next weekend.  We are traveling to New York State to see my family, and so I am taking the week off.  I’ll be back in Kentucky too late on Sunday to go to the farm.  But who knows, maybe Kiri will be over his snit by then!

I want to thank all our regular readers, especially those of you who send comments each week.  We read them all and enjoy knowing we have so many friends and fans.   We couldn’t do what we do without the support of all of you.  So, many thanks!   

 We hope you can visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.


P.S. I am testing an idea here–this is a photo of EscapedfromNewYork, taken by Rick Capone…




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20 responses to “Sunday June 14, 2009

  1. Brianna Q

    Great update, as usual :o)! Enjoy your trip!!

  2. Have a great time up here, Val–thanks for the weekly reports.

  3. Carole

    Each Sunday I look forward to reading your blog entry and you always paint such vivid pictures of the horses and their special personalities. Please give special pats to Sunshine, Awad & Swannie for me.

    Have a great trip to New York, my home state too.

  4. MRO

    EscapedfromNewYork looks great!

  5. Rich Hoffmann

    Hi Val!! Have a nice trip- I will miss reading the blog next week but will look forward to the next one. I think you will find the weather up here a bit cooler -very nice the last few days. Rich

  6. Pam


    Escape is beautiful! I’m so glad he has a good home now.

    I viewed the video on on horse slaughter in Japan (posted 9-6-09). It features Michael Blowen and the effort to rescue Charismatic and War Emblem. That was a tough video to watch, and it was so sad to see the condition Charismatic is in now. Do you know if any progress has been made to get these horses back to the United States? Michael mentioned some other American horses that are in danger, as well. How does this happen? Are these horses sold outright to the Japanese? If not, don’t the owners care what’s going on? I hope you all are successful in getting them all home safe and sound.


    P.S. Have a great trip to New York. I’m in Connecticut and we’re supposed to have decent weather after Tuesday.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hi Pam.
      This is what I know: racing is a big sport in Japan and their stud farms have a history of purchasing blood stock from overseas for their breeding programs. The ESPN video, of course, has been a topic of discussion on tours. I think it is perhaps an incomplete picture of Charismatic’s and War Emblem’s situations. I also think we must remember not to paint an entire country with a brush meant for one situation or event. I don’t think either horse is being neglected, in spite of how Charismatic’s situation may have been presented.
      Charismatic, with a decent $5000 stud fee, is apparently still actively breeding. When he truly is done breeding, I believe he will return to the US, as there was apparently a buy-back clause in his sale contract. He has had a very successful, multimillionaire son race here in the states (Sun King) and so he has had some success at stud.
      As far as War Emblem, his situation is different. He has been a shy breeder–picky and unwilling to do his job. However, the offspring he has sired have done very well racing, and the farm where he resides has spent considerable resources to help him overcome his issues, including having the University of Pennsylviania horse fertility experts go to Japan and work on him. Hardly an “unwanted” horse! All of this has been well-documented in articles in various racing media ( And again, I am most confident that he will be returned to the US upon his breeding retirement.
      Old Friends has a history of bringing stallions back from overseas once their breeding careers are over–we have done it five times now, with Sunshine Forever, Ogygian, Wallenda, Creator and the late Fraise. Michael has worked very hard to develop good relationships with the Japanese stud farms. And at this point, I don’t believe either horse is “for sale,” which tells us they are, in fact, wanted.
      Not every overseas farm or owner is sending their old stallions to slaughter. Slaughter happens right here, too, and overall it’s an issue for all of us to be cognizent of and work to overcome. But there is often more to a story than is presented, as we all know and have seen many times!

      Having said all that, I know how hard Michael, Old Friends and many others work to facilitate the return of American horses from overseas. Every day is a step in the right direction. And when Charismatic and War Emblem come home, hopefully to Old Friends where we can visit them, we’ll all celebrate!

  7. Jean

    Thanks for the updates on the beauties at Old Friends. I always look forward to reading your blog. Kind of makes me feel like I am a part of everything there.
    Val, have a safe trip and well deserved vacation.

  8. Suzanne

    Escape is a pretty little boy and I am thrilled you all got him. He deserved a chance. Will miss next week’s edition. I have been on the tour once and I can visualize the horses as you describe them. Thank you.

  9. Bess

    Thanks for the wonderful blog. And, special thanks for the picture of Escaped. He looks almost “fat”!!! What a change a couple of months make!!

  10. Gae

    Escape is looking better every time I check in. Great to hear Braden is back. I enjoyed reading about Braden’s first encounter with Dan.

  11. Pam


    Thanks for clarifying the true situation of Charismatic and War Emblem. That makes me feel better. I’m not solely critisizing one country’s practices; I realize the horse slaughter problem in our own country is perhaps worse. And I realize the video probably was produced with a bias. I’m just thankful for folks like you and Michael Blowen and Old Friends who watch out for our brave champions.


  12. Christine

    Thanks again Val, for the weekly walk around the farm. I almost feel like I’m on the tour with you! I remember reading about Braden’s visit last month and am tickled to hear he returned to see his pal Dan.

    Originally from Syracuse, I can say I hope the neck of the woods to which you are traveling provides – at minimum – some sunshine! 🙂

    Thank you.

  13. Tammy

    I was hoping for an update on a new resident of yours from Washington State!

  14. Viv and Bea

    Little Snakey looks fantastic…Rick takes wonderful photos indeed…what a difference a loving and responsible home makes! Voting for more photos in future blogs!

  15. My husband and I are from RI and have visited Old Friends a few times, the former location and this location as well. Due to priorities, we have not been able to visit beautiful Kentucky or Old Friends for a few years. I just wanted to say how much we enjoy the blog. It makes us feel like we are there and we can just envision the place and the horses.

    Love the photo of EscapedfromNewYork. Hope he continues to improve and will realize he is at a great place and is going to be just fine.

    Enjoy your trip
    Susan and Ken

  16. Pat


    The only thing that would improve your message every week is pictures. Escape looks fantastic! Please include more in the future when possible.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Well, there goes my surprise. I was testing photo size and space for a reason, you know? But isn’t Escape just too adorable? Rick sure captured him.
      I wish I could see and write about every horse every week. I try to make the rounds and talk about everyone every now and again. I know there are some special fans of Personalized, among others, who are anxiously awaiting updates.
      I do have a plan for this week’s blog, when I am not at the farm. And that’s all I’m going to say….;->

  17. Jodi

    Braden’s mom, here. Just wanted to let you know that you were right when you said that we wouldn’t be able to keep him away. We’re going to have another long visit in August and, since you’ll be putting pictures up, I’ll try to get a good one of Dan and Braden for you.
    I just wanted to let you know that although Braden and I were in town for a week, we chose to come to visit the farm on Sunday because you would be there. You do a great job introducing everyone to the horses, answering questions, and showing us not only the physical differences between the horses, but their personalities as well.
    After seeing the amazing progress Escape has made, and seeing the bonding that went on between him and Joe, it’ll be fun to watch him learn how to be a horse.

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