Oh, the rain! It rained all day Saturday. It rained Saturday night. It rained Sunday and it rained for our Homecoming on Sunday evening. Rivers were flooded. Roads were washed over. And the skies just kept on dumping that rain. (Of course, this morning, twelve hours later, the sun was shining and Monday turned out to be a gorgeous day. Timing is everything. Just ask Calvin Borel!) Nevertheless, the grass is ridiculously green. Leaves are lush and thick on the trees. And the Homecoming party carried on last evening, despite the wet and humid weather.
As we drove up to the farm Sunday afternoon, it was funny to see the horses. Some of them clearly didn’t mind the rain–I saw Will’s Way grazing happily, impervious to the two days of downpours. Cherono, The Wicked North and Creator were all outside dozing, daydreaming, or grazing. Gramps was in his shed, which is a sure sign he’d had enough wet. Usually Dan and Flick are the first to head into their shelter when it rains, but after two days I guess they figured if they wanted to eat, they had to get wet! Dan was soaked, his chestnut coat turned dark brown and his tail sodden and nearly dragging the ground. The horses inside the barns, with time to dry off, were either covered in dried mud (Commentator) or soft and shiny clean from being out in the rain (Gulch and Wallenda).
Inside the big barn, the fun was underway. Black Tie Affair was picking through his hay, keeping an eye out for wayward carrots. Academy Award thought he’d died and gone to heaven—people lined up at his stall door to see him. He got mints, carrots and attention. He loved it! He never left his stall door, making sure he didn’t miss greeting a single person. Word of his friendliness spread, and he had a steady stream of admirers. In the stall next door Wallenda, who has been through these events often, could care less. He turned his back to everyone and took a nap, irritated that his evening turnout schedule had been disrupted.
At one point I took some people over to the small barn to see horses. The lineup of horses in the small barn each night is amazing, when you stop to think about it. Slip inside the door and Clever Allemont is on your left, munching hay. Directly across from him, Commentator starts tossing his head and pawing for attention. Next to Clever, Jade Hunter nickers, looking for carrots. Glitterman peers out at you, wondering what the fuss is about. Gulch comes over and presses his face against the door, wanting someone to rub his face. How about that roster, all in one little barn? Only at Old Friends!
After Tator got his carrots, I asked him for a kiss, as I always do. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Big, bad, millionaire racehorse and she wants a kiss?” It’s ridiculously silly, but I can’t help it. He’s so darn cute. (I bet there are people who knew him BOF, before Old Friends, who’d cringe if they read this!) Anyway, usually he gives me a little nuzzle or a face rub in response. This time I got a big, wet swipe of his tongue, chin to forehead, right through the bars on his door. I’m pretty sure he was laughing at me when I sputtered and wiped my face. I sure didn’t see the slobbery part coming.
To raise money, we always have a silent as well as a live auction at our Homecomings—horse memorabilia, halters, “Moneigh” paintings, racing tickets, that sort of thing. For those of you who haven’t ever seen a Moneigh, they are paintings done by the horses—using their lips, tails, hooves, and whiskers. The effect is a lot like a child’s finger paint version of an Impressionist’s work. Last night we had paintings done by Sunshine Forever, The Wicked North, Commentator, Gulch, Black Tie Affair and Hidden Lake, among others. Lake’s was especially artistic, I must say!
Every year, the live action part is undertaken by two of the auctioneers from Fasig-Tipton, who kindly come by and put on a show for us in the tent on the lawn. They are terrific guys. Last night, due to the rain, we had an “old-fashioned” auction scenario—the auctioneers stood on bales of straw in the big barn, and everyone crowded around to place bids. I stood off to the side and thought it looked like a scene from a movie—“Seabiscuit” maybe, or some old John Wayne cowboy flick. There was even a guy wearing a Stetson. But the best part happened during the bidding for a Moneigh done by Fleet Indian, and I might have been the only person to notice this. Still, I swear it’s true: Black Tie Affair was trying to bid on the painting. He tossed his head. He shook his mane. He pawed at his stall floor. He did everything but scream. Unfortunately, the auctioneers didn’t see him. When I told them about it afterwards, they said, “Hey, he earned enough to afford it!” Personally, I think he was trying to drive up the price to raise more money. I know, I know. I keep telling stories about Blackie, but he is that smart.
It was terrific to see everyone last night, especially the regular supporters who show up faithfully for all our fundraisers. It’s gotten to be kind of like a family reunion—we get to visit with the “family” we only see once or twice a year. I guess that’s the point of having a Homecoming, though. I also enjoyed seeing a bunch of regular blog readers, some for the first time and others who I’ve met and known previously. All in all, it was a lot of fun. Now, if only we could order some better weather for next year!
I have to give a shout-out to Calvin Borel. He is a real supporter of Old Friends and has been to the farm to visit and greet fans. Winning three of the last four Kentucky Derbies is unbelievable. It could not happen to a nicer, more genuine, and harder-working guy. So, hat’s off to you, Calvin!
Thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends, especially if you were at the farm this Sunday for Homecoming. If you weren’t able to join us, we have more events coming up over the summer, so perhaps we’ll see you then. In the meantime, from the bottom of our hearts and hooves, we thank you for all your support.