Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I am forced to admit that 2009 is about over. It is just so hard to believe that another year is nearly gone! Here we are, in December, and so much has happened this year at Old Friends. It’s been a year since we lost Flying Pidgeon and Ruhlmann, and I still half expect to see the Pidge hanging out in his field. Since last December the main farm has expanded twice—once with the addition of the “back 40” acreage, and again last month with the leased property next door. The New York version of Old Friends welcomed its first residents this past week. We’ve met so many new horses; some famous like Black Tie Affair, Bonapaw, and Commentator. Others, like Du Pars and Appygolucky, were far from well-known. EscapedfromNewYork didn’t even have a name when he arrived. We’ve been visited by famous jockeys, met owners and trainers, had great fundraisers, and greeted new fans. And yet, underneath it all, the point remains the same: providing a home for retired racehorses where fans can visit and meet their heroes.
We are so fortunate to have so many kind and gentle horses. Last weekend two little boys visited, leading us to take the “nice horses to pat” tour. The “nice horse” loop is Black Tie Affair, The Wicked North, Clever Allemont, Danthebluegrassman, Fortunate Prospect and Jade Hunter. For the record, we also have the Canadian loop—our two great Canadian horses Benburb and Thornfield are at the annex farm. Then we have the “mare and gelding run”—up to the back 40. The “Eclipse Award tour” takes us to Blackie, Norty, Sunshine and Hidden Lake, and Millionaire Row covers, among others, Blackie, Tator, Wallenda, Sunshine, Awad, Kiri and Will’s Way! We can also visit offspring and parents of Kentucky Derby winners (Williamstown, Leave Seattle, Bonnie’s Poker, Polish Navy), black horses, gray horses, horses who actually ran in the Derby. You can see the list of tour possibilities is nearly endless!
Carolyn from Pittsburgh, whose photos I have posted on the blog in the past, came to visit this afternoon. Our mission was to visit every horse on the farm, and we did. Even Bonnie came over to visit, enjoying a couple of mints and a face rub. She looks terrific—fat, shaggy and content. Hidden Lake, Kudos, Bonapaw, Futural and Affirmed Success made their way over for mints, as did Regal Sanction and Easy Grades. I also took Carolyn over to see the new farm, where she met Smokey, Tour of the Cat, Klassy, Bennie and Luke.
Tour of the Cat has figured out a way to get dirty and stay that way. He is a kind of active horse and when he is outside he tends to run around until he gets warm and a little sweaty. Then, when he is good and damp, he rolls in the mud. The combo of sweat and mud dries to cement-like balls of dirt that are stuck to his long winter hair like, well, concrete. Only on one side, though, as his left side is nearly pristine! It’s far too cold for a bath, and Tour doesn’t like the pulling on his coat when you brush him, so I guess he stays dirty until the next rainy day!
I’ve said it plenty of times but it remains true—the cooler weather makes all the horses more active and energetic. Awad feels as good as I have ever seen him, running hard and showing off for just about everyone who comes by. I suspect he can run nearly as fast as when he was younger, since he has managed to pretty much maintain his youthful figure! This is not true for a few others—while Will loves to run, no one would say he has maintained his “fighting weight.” The same is true for Kiri and Sunshine.
The horses rarely miss a trick when treats are involved. While one may occasionally choose not to come over to visit, every one of them always knows when people are headed their way. Still, occasionally one of them takes that to a new level. EscapedfromNewYork lives in the first paddock on the right as you come up the drive to the farm. He always, and I mean ALWAYS, meets people as they walk up the drive for tours. Given the lack of socialization in his past, he has come a long way. And he doesn’t need to see people walking his way to pay attention. Oh no, he is way ahead of us–he watches for cars to turn onto the access road from the main highway! He knows if the cars turn right, they are not headed to the farm and he ignores them. BUT, if the car turns left, it must be coming to Old Friends and he immediately lifts his head to see if the car brings people. Because, to Escaped, people equal treats! You can’t tell me horses don’t have their own kind of logic. Smart.
I promised I’d post a couple photos from Old Friends at Cabin Creek—the Bobby Frankel Division, so here they are. We hope you can visit us soon, either here in Kentucky or in New York. In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends. –Val