After a cooler than normal and very comfortable July, summer heat has arrived with a vengeance in central Kentucky. It’s hot and humid, saved today only by a nice steady breeze. The horses have stopped trotting over for carrots, preferring to amble over, knowing we’ll wait for them– in the shade if possible!
I read in the newspaper this week that the Lexington area has gotten about five inches of rain over normal. As a result, the grass is still green and all the horses look sleek and shiny. Well, except for one horse. Swannie has created an almost perfectly oval dust hole in the middle of his paddock, where we watched him roll today. He coats himself with dust, then gets up and shakes. The dust cloud drifts off him for 20 or more feet, but he is pretty happy when he is finished!
With all the heat and humidity only Awad broke into a trot today, but then this weekend was an anniversary of sorts for him, so he might have been showing off a little. On Saturday, the Arlington Million was run. Awad holds the stakes record for that race, and for another year his record went unbroken. We made sure to tell him that, and he just tossed his head as if to say, “but, of course!” There are a few horses at the farm that seem to have inspired exceptional fan memories. Will’s Way, Black Tie Affair and Ogygian are among them. But over the past couple of years on my tours, more people seem to remember Awad for some special reason than any other horse. Wedding memories, honeymoons, trips to the races with friends and family—a lot of people apparently associate an Awad victory with some special event or memory. It’s kind of amazing, actually.
We had a bunch of kids on tours today, as it seems a lot of families were taking one last weekend trip before school starts. The kids on the tours today ranged in age from one to maybe 10 or 11. One girl was an old hand with horses and one little boy was a novice but had no fear. But the best was a girl who was maybe seven. She had on a beautiful pink summer sundress, and she was a little shy around the horses at first. But once she got the hang of carrots and mints, she had a terrific time. Every time one of the horses took a treat from her hand, she let loose with the cutest little giggle. I am pretty sure she will always remember her time at Old Friends, and at the end of the day that is the best part about being a tour guide at the farm.
I’ve talked before how some horses settle right in when they arrive at the farm. The all-time champion of that, of course, is The Wicked North. Clever Allemont “got it” almost immediately as well. Even EscapedfromNewYork, given his complete lack of socialization, has come a long way very quickly. He is a friendly little guy who walks right along the fence with us, hoping for more treats.
On the other hand, you have the horses who take a little while to settle in. Wallenda was a little nutty upon his arrival. I remember him pacing his fence for a week or so. Flick didn’t settle down until Dan got hold of him. One of our newest horses, Regal Sanction, is taking his time as well. I think he has figured out the bucket of carrots idea, as he meets us at the fence every time. But he isn’t too sure about these stallions all around him. He lives next door from Bull and across from Norty. Now, Bull isn’t one to let any horse go unchallenged. He makes sure the new guy knows he is in the presence of The Great Bull inthe Heather. Bull doesn’t do anything halfway, so there is some noise and bluster in his manner. Norty, in his much less overt way, is just as challenging. I think Regal is wondering what is going on!
On another note, one of our summer interns, Aubrie, begins her senior year of high school tomorrow. Aubrie has worked in the gift shop with me on Sundays for most of the past two summers, and I am pretty fond of her. I hope she has a great senior year!
In the interest of equal time, after mentioning Rachel Alexandra last week I have to talk about my other favorite race mare, Zenyatta. She continued her unbeaten career with a thrilling victory tonight. People ask me all the time if horses love to race. If you saw Zenyatta do her special dance step on her way to the starting gate, you just know she loves her job! She is one cool horse.
Thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends! We hope you can visit us soon.
PS. I had a request for a picture of Black Tie Affair. Thanks to Rick Capone. More photos are available on his website www.kentuckyhorsephotos.com