Monthly Archives: September 2009

Sunday September 27, 2009

Here in central Kentucky, after a week of flooding rain, the clouds and rain finally cleared out.  Today we enjoyed a nice breeze, plenty of sunshine and those big puffy white clouds, with temperatures maybe around 70 degrees.  And what began as a lightly scheduled day of tours turned into a non-stop day of people, horses and walking.  

As I drove up to the farm this morning, I could see Sunshine Forever stretched out for a nap, and Proper Reality was standing with one back foot up, taking a nap himself.  With all the rain, a lot of the pastures have nice patches of mud in low spots, and I knew, just knew we would see dirty horses today.  And boy, were they muddy!  Over the course of the day, we walked the majority of the farm and saw most of the horses.  Gramps had burrs in his mane and forelock.  Jade Hunter had mud along the side of his face.  Dan was muddy; Williamstown and Polish Navy were covered, too.   

I almost didn’t recognize Glitterman today—he ran over to see us with his neck arched and his rail flagged.  Usually he is a more sedate horse, but I think Makor’s Mark was getting attention and that bothered Glitterman.   But he sure looked pretty running like that.  He’s officially a bay horse, but really he’s a kind of melted chocolate color, and his tail is more cocoa than black. He has a thin, intelligent face and he is very handsome.

This morning we had a tour bus from northern Ohio, 53 people in all.  We split the tour up with three guides, and had a great time.  I have this theory that Clever Allemont prefers kids to adults, mostly since he seems more inclined to meet us at the fence if there are kids on the tour.  Adults only?  There is about a 50-50 shot that he’ll even bother with us.  I say this because I had 10 or so adults with me this morning.  Clever was standing at the fence when we walked over, but I swear he sized us up, saw a bunch of boring grown-ups and he just turned around and walked away. On the other hand, at one o’clock we had two kids in the group.  Clever was off in the middle of his paddock and as soon as he saw the kids, he ambled right over.   

This afternoon’s tour took us over to see Pops, Ring, Awad and the group on that side of the farm.  Leave Seattle was inordinately friendly today.  Normally he comes over if he feels like it, and sometimes he doesn’t even seem all that interested in carrots. Today he wolfed them down.  I suspect maybe he likes the cooler weather better.  Kiri actually cantered over to us—he clearly also prefers the cooler temperatures.   Will’s Way, on the other hand, could not be bothered to walk the 20 feet over to us—we had to walk to him, and entice him, via the carrot bucket, to come visit the group.  Will is definitely an independent thinker.  He wants us to know he is in charge and choosing to grace us with his presence.

My little pigpen, Swannie, once again won the “dirtiest horse” award.  Generally, horses love to get dirty and muddy but he is just the king.  Mane, tail, ears, face, neck and back—not even a clean spot to pat!   It didn’t stop anyone from trying really, but the horse dirt just transferred to the humans. 

I had a lot of questions today about horse personalities—for example, do they talk to us.  That question was no sooner asked than Awad nickered impatiently for his carrots, letting the group know he heard, and understood, the question!  Ogygian was the same way—he wanted his carrots, and he wanted them NOW.   The other question I was asked several times today was if the camera flash would bother the horses.  It doesn’t, as I think racehorses know exactly what a camera and flash are for–they don’t mind the adoration in the least!

Black Tie Affair is also very vocal and nickers as soon as you walk into the barn.  I brushed him today, and it’s especially noteworthy that he was so dirty.  When he arrived, the arthritis in his back leg was so severe he did not like to lie down and get back up.  But with the acupuncture treatment he is receiving, he has improved enough that he happily managed to cover himself with mud.  His ears, his face, back, neck and mane, the inside of his legs—all covered.  I was never been so happy to see a horse get so dirty.  He still has pretty severe tumors and they aren’t going to go away.  But for now, he is happy and enjoying the attention he is getting.

I had planned to take some more photos today but we were just too busy.  I’ll try again next weekend.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends. We hope you can visit us soon!

-Val

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday September 20, 2009

danandflickdan flick in the muddan & flick runninggrampsjade hunter

Today was a rainy, wet day in Kentucky.  It poured consistently all morning, along with thunder and lightning.  As a result, we had no tours this morning.   The rain tapered off some by lunchtime but still, only two folks braved a rain-abbreviated 1 pm, so I wandered around in between the rain showers by myself.   Because it was wet and cool, the horses were pretty active.  I looked up at one point this morning and along the top of the hill at the back of the farm, I could see all the horses running. 

Someone asked me last week if I take “poetic license” with some of the stories I tell about the Old Friends horses, because he never sees them run, buck or play.  I assured him that everything I write is true, but I don’t think he believed me.  I start with this because today so many of the horses were running and playing I thought I should try to get some pictures.  Since I never carry my camera, out came my Blackberry.   What a wasted effort, as you’ll see!   Dan and Flick, being the hams that they are, saw me aim my camera and put on their show.  They reared, they ran, they bucked and kicked.  I took 10 or 12 shots, but you know, cell phones are not ideal action cameras and I mostly got pictures of their butts!   They finally gave up on me and both of them dropped in the mud for a roll at the same time.  So here are Dan and Flick, playing, running and rolling. Really, they were!  

Fortunate Prospect was waiting by his gate watching all the hoopla with Dan and Flick.  I noticed that he seemed kind of annoyed, and after hanging out with him for a few minutes, I realized he had the hiccups! Eventually he wandered off to graze and that seemed to take care of them.  Kent checked him out to make sure he was ok, and he was. 

During the day, Jade Hunter is in the paddock directly across from Gramps and Kent told me that the two old stallions aren’t all that fond of one another.  On the other hand, once Jade Hunter goes inside for the night, Benburb goes into that paddock, and Gramps won’t eat his dinner until Ben is settled in across from him and eating, too!  Isn’t it funny how horses choose their buddies?  Here is Gramps, during his bout with the hiccups, and a muddy, fly-masked Jade Hunter, wondering why I don’t have carrots for him. 

If you have ever been to Old Friends, you know that the big barn, which houses Black Tie Affair, Appy, Wallenda and Ben, has stalls with windows that open to the back.  I was walking along the outside of the barn today talking to Silver Charm, and I heard a racket coming from the far end of the barn.  I couldn’t imagine what it was, so I walked back to investigate.  It was Wallenda, stretched out flat on his side…snoring! 

Since it was raining again and my rain jacket was failing me, I decided Wallenda had the right idea—a nap seemed like a fabulous idea!  So, I wrapped up my short, wet day and headed for home.  Thanks for stopping by for another Sunday with Old Friends.  We hope you can visit us soon!

-Val

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday September 13, 2009

You know how some days are just too good?  I mean everything is pretty much perfect—the temperature is grand, the sky is blue and the breeze has just enough whoosh to feel good.  You know the kind of weather you dream about when it’s cold or rainy or blazing hot?  We had that kind of day today.  The horses loved it, the dogs were happy, and the people felt good. 

So, to begin this fine day, the morning started with a group of about 14 motorcyclists.   Nice folks; we had a great time with the horses.  Several of them had never been around horses and so were a little reluctant at first.  But first Proper Reality and then Norty won them over.  Proper is another who makes my list of Really Nice Stallions.  He is affectionate and friendly, and he loves having his face rubbed.  Maybe because he is just a little guy, he seems less intimidating to first-timers and so he seems to win folks over right away.  Regal Sanction, across the way from Proper, is very friendly as well, but for some reason people react differently to him.  He’s taller, a gleaming red (where Proper is plain brown), and I think he has a kind of attitude—not mean or standoffish, but more that he wants you to admire his beauty.   He just seems to expect that you will want to offer him an appropriate amount of appreciation.   

Bull and Norty, being across from one another, continue to have a little competition going.  Admire Bull, and Norty gets very vocal.  Feed Norty, and Bull starts banging on the fence.  And since Bull isn’t exactly a “kiss him on the nose” kind of guy, Norty always seems just a little smug to me, as everyone is patting him.  They are all such characters.

The other horse who is great at putting people at ease is Clever Allemont.  Again, he’s a little guy, but even more I think it’s that he is such a nice horse.  He always has a kind expression and never looks cranky or irritated.  Now I know you might wonder how a horse can have a nice expression or how it is they can look cranky.  Trust me, they just do.  This morning Clever was hanging out under his tree waiting for us, but this afternoon his gal pal Klassy was outside, so Clever was hanging at the other end of his paddock.  A little seven year old girl asked me this afternoon if they ever kiss (hey, she was seven!) I told her they are only allowed to gaze at one another from a distance.  Dad said that gazing at boys is all that is allowed, and told her she just learned a life lesson at Old Friends! 

Among the motorcycle tour this morning was one guy who had pretty much the same hairdo as Silver Charm. The entire group commented on their similar hair—color, cut and style!  I suggested he pose with Charmie for a photo but he declined.  It would have been cute, although that’s probably why he declined.  Didn’t really fit his image, I guess.

This afternoon we had a couple of ladies who had a great time. Pops nipped at one and caught her off guard.  He mostly just slobbered on her but she was kind of proud of it, I think.  The ladies were funny—every horse was the most beautiful one they saw and each became their new favorite.  I think they ended up undecided between Awad (who looked spectacular in the sunshine today—a rich and shiny cocoa brown) and Sunshine, who is always regal and gallant.  

By the way, for all you New York racing fans who love Will’s Way (specifically, Teresa from Brooklyn Backstretch)—Will is one fat boy these days.  I think we had to actually cut back on his chow.  The grass has been so green and lush all summer, and Will is the proverbial “easy keeper.”  I think even his cheeks are chubby!  The other guy with an especially well-fed look is Kiri’s Clown. No missed meals here!

I often remark on how Swannie is our own little pigpen.  Well, he had competition today.  Leave Seattle had somehow managed to get the left side of his face completely coated with dirt.  It hasn’t rained, so it wasn’t mud.  It was too cakey to be considered dust, and it completely covered his face.  I have no idea how he did it, and it looked pretty funny.  The rest of him was shiny and clean.  I don’t know if he stood on his head or what, but it was unusual!

Once tours ended today, I was able to spend some time with Wallenda, Appy and Black Tie Affair.  Black Tie Affair is every bit as picky about his treats as Awad.  He doesn’t want mints and he repeatedly turned up his nose at the famous Mrs. Pasture horse cookies.  But boy, he loves his carrots!  Appy, who is still in the barn, loves the attention when we get to his stall.  He is another nice, kind horse and I enjoyed taking a brush to him this afternoon.

I was flattered to have a couple of blog fans at the farm today–thanks to them for the kind words and regular readership.  And for the folks who keep asking about Lava Man, all I can say is “soon, very soon.” We’ll let everyone know as soon as he is on the plane to Kentucky.

So no complaints for today—great weather, good people, wonderful horses. (But, lest I get too giddy, my little friend Marley reminded me that no day is totally perfect–she rolled in something dead and nasty-smelling.  She’s already had two baths, and number three is imminent.) 

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

-Val

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday September 6, 2009

What a mixed bag of a day—a little sun, some big rumbles of thunder, rain, hail (close but not actually at the farm) and a cool breeze. The back part of the farm had some nice rain, while the horses up front barely got wet.   Summer?   Fall?  Who knows?

The horses loved that cool breeze and the rain, though.  Swannie, Awad, Dan, Flick—they all ran around happily today.  Dan and Flick have apparently learned that rearing up in a mock fight earns them plenty of attention, since they pulled that act again today.  Swannie arched his neck and pranced around every time the thunder crashed.  One of the guys on the 1 o’clock tour made no bones that he was somewhat (ok, totally) afraid of horses.  His friends tried to get him to stand next to Swannie for a photo, but it thundered, Swannie danced, and the poor guy ran for cover.  

I think most of the horses were wound up today. Escape took a little nip at one lady.  (I warned her not to turn her back, but so few people ever really believe me!)  Escape left some green slobber on her nice sweater and a lovely little bruise on her arm.  She didn’t seem to mind too much, though.  Her granddaughter, who is three, was a total animal nut.  She arrived at the farm and announced that she loves horses, and let me tell you, she had no fear.  Her name was Lauren, and she had a blast.  She kissed Norty, patted Black Tie, fed Jade Hunter and Gramps, and walked next to Jake with her arm across his back.  When we got to Swannie, he dipped his head down to her level.  She put her little hands on either side of his nose and said “I love you, Horsey.”  Oh, is her dad ever going to have to pay for riding lessons some day!  I bet she had a nice nap this afternoon as well, since her energy gave out on the way back to the office—she laid down right in the middle of the driveway.  She did leave with a stuffed horse that she promptly named Norty.   Yep, my job was done today– another lifetime horse fan, courtesy of Old Friends!

Because of the looming thunder and eventual rain, the afternoon tours were all cut short.  We didn’t get very far and saw fewer horses than we normally would.  We spent some time with Sunshine and Awad, as well as Dan and Flick. But the storms were so close that no one wanted to be caught too far from shelter.  We never even made it over to Pops and Ring.  But thankfully, Clever came over for every visitor, as did Norty. 

Black Tie Affair, Appygolucky, Wallenda, and Benburb, because they are in the big barn, had it made today.  Lots of treats for them.  Appy really enjoys any attention he gets.  Of course, since he is next to Wallenda, it’s hard to talk with Appy since the Wallenda makes such a ruckus waiting for his turn.  No manners at all.  Black Tie Affair nickers every time he sees the treat bucket.  He isn’t a big fan of peppermints, though and doesn’t even want them in his mouth.  Smart horse—carrots and peppermint?  Can’t be that good of a combo.

But horses in general, of course, have a sweet tooth.  All the horses love carrots, and various horses at Old Friends have some unique taste buds.  Futural loves bananas, Creator loves pears, the late, great Ruhlmann loved gingersnap cookies.  A lot of the horses like the hard, red and white peppermint candies, but some of them are picky and don’t like the green version of the mints.  Awad has to be different as he dislikes apples, but Swannie will eat anything.  Today one lady, who wasn’t used to horses at all, pulled out a roll of the old-fashioned fruit flavor lifesavers—the green, red, and orange ones?  She asked if the horses would eat them, and I told her to give them a shot.  Huge, huge hit!  Everyone LOVED them.  Who knew? 

I want to wish a Happy Birthday to my niece Mikaela in Buffalo, and Happy Labor Day to everyone else.   We hope you can visit us sometime soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized