Sunday July 4, 2010

Ahh, Independence Day—a sure sign that we are mid-way through the summer!  What a day it was. On the one hand, it was a fun, albeit hot, day and we had a lot of especially enjoyable visitors.  But on the other hand–walking past Black Tie Affair’s empty stall for the first time, seeing the deep pile of clean bedding just waiting for him, his fly mask hanging outside the stall and a vase of white roses outside his door, well, it was difficult.  I told everyone a little about him today, so I guess he was still part of the tours.  I know it made me feel a little better.  You know, after nearly two years, I still expect to see Flying Pidgeon’s white-rimmed eye peering at me from his paddock.   I am going to be looking for Black Tie Affair in that stall for a long time.

And of course, there are many horses still looking for their share of the carrots.  Wallenda has moved to the annex farm next door, where it’s much quieter.  He will be better off –there are fewer visitors and he’ll be less likely to get excited and further injure his fragile ankles.  When Will’s Way left for New York, Swannie moved into the paddock on the other side of Awad, next to Leave Seattle.  Awad spent all day huffing and puffing at Swannie, even though all Swannie did was move from one side of Awad’s paddock to another.  Still, Awad was letting us know that he is large and in charge.

 Marquetry arrived last week, and moved into Swannie’s old digs.  Talk about a people horse!  Marq met every tour at the fence, munching carrots (one bite at a time—he has some dental issues, as in missing teeth) and letting everyone fuss over him.  He is a big, very handsome chestnut horse with really cool and unusual white markings on his legs.  They run up his legs in an irregular pattern, kind of like they would on a paint horse. Everyone commented on them.  And you know some horses just figure out the Old Friends drill immediately—The Wicked North, Commentator and now Marquetry.   Nothing slow about those boys!  Marq was ready and waiting every time he saw us headed his way.  And of course, once again there was Awad, all worked up because we were admiring the new guy instead of him.  

One of the things I most like to impress upon visitors is how smart a good racehorse can be.  Case in point: today, I think we taught Special Ring a new trick, demonstrating just how quickly they learn things.  This morning, he curled his upper lip and everyone was able to get a good look at his tattoo, which is clearly legible. The group was large enough and everyone’s response was vocal enough—some oohing and ahhing—that he figured out it was a good thing to do.  This afternoon he tried it again and the group applauded.  By the time the 3 pm tour came along, all I had to do was ask him to show us his tattoo and up went the lip!  He’ll remember this from now on, and he’ll be showing his tattoo on a regular basis.  Poor Pops, he’s going to have to ratchet up his star power to compete!

We always have great visitors, but maybe because I was a little bit sad today, everyone just seemed especially nice.  There was a nice mix –some people associated with the racing industry, non-racing horse people, really terrific kids, and complete horse novices.  There were great questions, many, many carrots, and a lot of sweating in the humid heat!  There wasn’t a lot of horse activity—Tator ran some this morning and Pops trotted about three steps. Everyone else pretty much meandered. 

And the funniest comment today?  This afternoon one of the non-horse guys told me he thought Sunshine wasn’t a very manly name for a stallion.  I suggested he say that to Sunshine’s face when we got over to him—all 16-plus hands and 1200 or so pounds of him!  Since no one would call Sunshine girly, ever, the two of them worked it out and bonded over some carrots.  It was pretty entertaining.   

The same group asked me if it’s true that horses like beer, so I was forced to come clean with a little secret. One of our volunteers, whose name I shouldn’t reveal, admitted that sometimes after work he stops by the convenience store, picks up a can of beer, and shares it with his buddy Bull inthe Heather!  Apparently Bull isn’t a fan of light beer, preferring the full-bodied Clydesdale brand.   I guess it’s a guy thing.

That wraps up another Sunday for me.  It’s been an emotional week at the farm, but at the end of the day I can say that you feel better just for being around the horses—letting Kiri rub sweaty his face on your arm, having Sunshine sniff and snort your hand to see who else you’ve been patting, or feeling Glitterman lean his face against you while you chase flies for him.  Life does go on.  Thank you to everyone who sent a comment on the blog, a note, or an email over the past week.  We love reading them.

Thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.  We hope you can visit us soon!



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6 responses to “Sunday July 4, 2010

  1. Carmel Dunlap

    Enjoyed hearing about Marquetry as he’s my mare’s sire. Now I know where she must get her personality from as she too is a real people horse and has such a willing attitude. I’m hoping to come see him while we are at the WEG in September!

  2. Gayle

    I was so sorry to hear you all had lost another of your beloved horses. I’ve fantasized about winning the lottery, and always debated about opening a rescue for retired Thoroughbreds or wild horses. I thought about the heartbreak of losing the retirees, which is more likely to happen (and also the vet bills!). But then when I think about giving them peace for their service to humans, whether or not they were champions, it has to be worth it. God Bless You All at Old Friends.

  3. Colmel

    Thank you for such a lovely post, Val. I’m so glad to know you’re doing well. I especially enjoyed the info on Ring! I know I shouldn’t have “favorites,” but I have to admit that he and Bonnie have very special places in my heart. Those Nureyev kids (Ring) have always been unusually smart. As for Bonnie, well she and my old mare were pasture-mates for a few years so there’s a “family” feek there. Funny thing they were both bred to Silver Buck. Her kid did a little bit better than mine – to say the LEAST – but I loved my silver girl. I sure hope that Bonnie’s boy will be able to come home to Old Friends one day soon and I’ll get to say hello again.

  4. MRO

    I’m glad I got to see Will’s Way when I visited last year. I’ll miss him when I make my next visit. I hope he has many visitors at OF-NY.

  5. Pam

    I want to thank everyone that has anything to do with Old Friends Farm. My husband and I toured the farm on Saturday. We were so overwhelmed and impressed on what you all do. THis would be my dream job to be any part of this foundation. I can’t wait to come back and visit and learn more about each and every horse. They are all truely magnificant animals! Thanks again for letting us share a part of their lives!

    • Colmel


      You said (wrote) a mouthful! I think you speak for lots of us. It would be a DREAM JOB for me, too. I fully plan to volunteer my time at Old Friends when I am able to retire and move back home.

      You know, if you want to learn more about the wonderful Friends at Old Friends, you can look their information up online. The Bloodhorse has an excellent website and they have great records. There are all kinds of websites that have race records, pedigrees, even photos of the gang when they were racing. It’s not the same as being with these magnificent beings, but it’s better than nothing.

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