I am almost positively sure it has rained every Sunday for the past two months in central Kentucky. Except perhaps for the couple of frigid Sundays when it snowed, we have been completely waterlogged every weekend in recent memory. Today continued the damp trend, with rain falling virtually non-stop all day. Paddocks are wet and soggy—walking around feels like stepping on saturated sponges. Ponds are overflowing and water is running across roadways, making driving a bit hazardous.
At Old Friends, the horses each handle this weather differently. I was sure Dan and Flick were going to slide right through the fence, as they were running and bucking like two big kids on a slip-n-slide. If they aren’t sore tomorrow it’ll be a miracle. I wonder if Commentator raced well in wet weather, because he was happy as can be today. Completely covered in thick, slippery mud, he came at a run for his mints. He looked like he was having some kind of mud wrap body spa treatment! No way was I patting him, either—there was no clean part of him to touch. At one point I heard pounding hooves from farther back on the farm–in the rain and low clouds, the sound echoed until you couldn’t really tell where it came from.
The older guys were less enthusiastic about the rain–not unhappy, mind you–just more sensible. Clever Allemont was cozied up in his run-in shed, with barely a whisker to be seen. Gulch could care less about the weather—he was out grazing like it was a bright, sunny day. Swannie stood in the middle of his field, looking wet and bedraggled, taking a nap. Fortunate Prospect came over for carrots, his long shaggy coat dripping on top but wondrously dry when I burrowed my fingers underneath. Of course, if Gramps is getting carrots, Proper Reality is right across the way, waiting for his share as well. Even Will’s Way bowed to the rain and went into his shed. I’ve seen Will stand behind, in front of, and next to his shed. I don’t think I have ever seen him actually go inside it!
The dogs seemed happy enough in the rain. Shane and Jake actually laid down in the grass, pretty much impervious to the wet. Marley ran around in the mud, following me from horse to horse. Only Duncan, who was confined to the back seat of Janet’s car, was fairly dry.
We had one tour today, a mother and daughter team who met in Lexington for a visit before heading back to their respective cities. Of course the hardest downpour occurred while they were here. They especially wanted to meet Clever, but no way, no how was he coming out of his shed! We mostly visited with Norty, Wallenda and Black Tie Affair, inside and out of the weather.
I spend a lot of time talking about our more well-known residents; in large part this is because so many people remember their racing careers and ask about them. Still, Old Friends is home to any number of lesser-known horses. Among our newer residents is a young stallion named Gasconade. He is a beautiful son of War Chant who was injured on the track and recently retired as a result. Since he is on stall rest until his leg heals, he is dry and mud-free—a real bonus of late! I spent some time with him today, running a brush over him and just enjoying his company. He is a nice, friendly horse who loves attention, with a beautiful reddish bay coat and a pretty face. Probably no one has ever heard of him—he won a few dollars less than $60,000 in his 13 race career. So many times people talk about how “hyper” Thoroughbreds are. But here is a 6 year old stallion, stall-bound for weeks now, and he is easy to be around, sensible, and kind. There are so many ex-racehorses like him, who with TLC would make someone a terrific friend. They all deserve homes.
I have to finish with another note from Summerwind Farm across the road. Since it is baby horse season, a couple of us Old Friends volunteers went over to see a brand new arrival, less than 24 hours old. He was all wobbly and sleepy, and adorable. I also met their broodmare Fleet Indian, a really grand racehorse who was Eclipse Champion Older Mare in 2006. Like so many of the great race horses, she barely deigned to acknowledge the human peon, finally accepting a mint and a pat from me.
But the surprise treat at Summerwind today was meeting Ziggy the Zebra. In addition to breeding racehorses, Summerwind is an animal rehabilitation facility and Ziggy is a permanent resident. He lives in a large field with three donkeys. He is clearly a character! Apparently, he bites, he kicks, and in general acts like the non-domesticated wild animal he is. Nevertheless, despite his nature, Ziggy does like some things about humans. Specifically, he likes carrots, vanilla wafers, and we discovered today, peppermints. So, I was able to get up close and personal, giving Ziggy two mints—striped candy for the striped horse. Zebras definitely appeal to the kid in all of us! And as cool as I thought it was, Tim Ford had even more fun. He was able to sneak a couple pats to Ziggy’s nose before the teeth came out. He must have told me ten times that he “patted a zebra!” Way to go, Tim!
Despite the weather, it was a fun albeit damp, day at Old Friends. We are eagerly anticipating spring and the gearing up of tour season. There are so many new horses, and old favorites, to visit! We hope you will come to see us soon. In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.