Every day at Old Friends is fun for me, but some days are just more fun. Today was one of those days. From beginning to end it was alternately peaceful, exciting, and awe-inspiring. I hardly know where to begin!
First of all, the weather was pretty nice. It was chilly this morning, but mostly sunny with those puffy white clouds drifting by. It was beautiful—seeing a shiny bay horse up to his ankles in that intensely green grass, with the blue sky and bright sun shining between the white clouds, framed by the black Kentucky fences. I felt like I walked into a painting.
I didn’t have a tour scheduled this morning, so I went visiting. I stopped by the annex farm to see Luke, Smokey, Seek Gold and Klassy. Then I went to the main farm intending to visit Wallenda. He was sleeping, and I’ve learned waking him up is guaranteed to make him grumpy. Academy Award and Norty were also sleeping, and Blackie was napping outside in the sun. No fun there.
Looking for someone who was awake, I wandered over to the small barn and Glitterman. G-man’s arthritis is making it difficult for him to be outside in a larger paddock, so he gets the plush inside life with outside time in a smaller space. I’ve always liked Glitterman; he’s a cute little guy, but I can’t say I’ve spent much one-on-one time with him. I visit him with tours of course, and he is unfailingly friendly. I just never really knew him, I guess. But today, I thought I’d take a brush to him. And here is the first thing I discovered about him: he is a puppy dog. Really! If he was the size of, say a Pekinese, I believe he’d crawl right into your lap. But since he is the size of a (smallish) horse, he makes do with leaning on you. Laying his head on your shoulder is good. Or even just standing quietly with his eyes closed while you pat his neck is pretty terrific. I am so doomed, again. Everyone knows I love the boys with attitude– Wallenda and Commentator, among others. But boy, am I a sucker for a puppy dog!
And this is the second thing I learned about Glitterman today. He is a kid horse. I had some kids visiting this afternoon and he dropped his head down so he can look the little ones right in the eye while he gobbled carrots. Mind you, G-man is not that big, so it’s not that far down. But still, he clearly loved interacting with the kids. By the way, one of the tours this afternoon was some returning friends—Hayes, her little brother whose name I cannot possibly spell, and mom. Brother made me laugh out loud as he called for Awad from across the paddock, “Awad, come here boy!” Too cute! It was good to see you all.
I always enjoy having kids on tours, and I had a lot of them this weekend. Yesterday I helped a bunch of Girl Scouts finish earning their Horse Badge. The troop leaders felt that in addition to riding, the girls should learn a little about horse rescue, so we spent a couple of hours talking about racehorses, second careers and retirement. OK, so maybe it wasn’t quite that serious the whole time! In addition to the rescue and retirement stuff, we had a great time meeting the horses and learning about their personalities. Blackie, Norty, Wallenda, Clever, Jade, Pops and Ring were our main professors. Academy Award showed once again that he isn’t too sure about kids—until the girls quietly and calmly talked with him and gave him carrots. After about two minutes of that, he just about walked out of his stall to get closer to the girls. They were terrific with him, and I think he learned a lot about interacting with kids. Well done, girls! I also discovered (and maybe I should have known this) Commentator like girls. I mean, he liked them a lot. He gave kisses, he sniffed, he nuzzled. He was a perfect gentleman, and he often is too busy showing off to be a gentleman. So I was pleasantly surprised, I think.
Earlier this year, Maggie Mae Designs donated a series of designer Kentucky Derby Hats—you know, the fabulous ones women wear at the Derby. Each of them was inspired by one of our retirees and they were sold online as a fundraiser for Old Friends. This afternoon, the folks who purchased the Sunshine Forever hat stopped in, hoping to be able to take a photo with Old Friends as a backdrop. Backdrop, you say? We can do better than that, so off we went to meet Sunshine. I think mom, dad, kids, grandpa and grandma had a terrific time. Sunshine was such a ham. He ate carrots and mints, told them how wonderful he is (The Greatest Horse Ever!) and posed with them for a family photo. I believe Sunshine made some new friends today. Grandpa was a retired sports newspaperman from Florida-he knew all our horses. They were really nice people. I know they’ll be back to visit. And by the way, the hat? It’s gorgeous!
I ended my day watching Commentator run back and forth in his paddock, waiting to be brought inside for his dinner. He looked so beautiful, shiny and red, running fast and rearing to a stop right in front of me. It’s not hard to understand why he was such a grand racehorse. And no matter how many times I see the horses run and play, it never fails to take my breath away. It’s such a privilege to know them.
That’s about all from the farm for today. We hope you can visit us soon. In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.
P.S. Happy Mother’s Day, to my mom and all the moms out there!