As I was driving home from Old Friends today contemplating what I would write in this week’s blog, my first thought was that we had a quiet, non-eventful day at the farm. It was warm, but it’s been warm for some time now. We had some rain on Friday, so Pops and Ring have their mud puddle back. Both were covered in mud; nothing unusual about that. Much to his dismay, Kiri is wearing his grazing muzzle as he did last summer. Tator and Awad predictably followed each tour around, hoping for more carrots.
We didn’t have a morning tour, so I went over to the annex farm to see the boys. Wallenda wanted to play, and when he went outside for his daily grazing time, he broke into a canter. Given his ankle issues, he isn’t the most graceful horse anymore and I cringe when I see him canter, holding my breath that he stops before he hurts himself. But he looks and feels good, and he still wants to show off just a little. Benburb and Smokey Stover are nighttime grazers, spending their days indoors out of the sun. Both horses planted their faces in front of their fans, closed their eyes and napped. Bennie is fat and happy; Smokey is just plain gorgeous.
Klassy Briefcase also resides over at the annex. She was laying down for a nap with her tongue, as usual, hanging out of her mouth. Klassy’s last foal ran third in his first race this week, so I told her about that. She didn’t blink. But then again, she was asleep… Luke came over for a mint and a face rub, but no one else bothered. Too hot, too much sun, too much effort.
This afternoon’s tours were fun, including a very small “horse whisperer in training” named Gracie. Gracie was maybe three, and the dogs and horses adored her. She was a very calm little girl and the horses took carrots from her as gently and delicately as they could. She stretched right up to feed Tator, Academy Award let her pat his forehead, and she reached through the fence to pat Glitterman’s shoulder. She picked a bouquet of clover flowers as we walked along, talking to the dogs and ignoring the people. By the time we got to Sunshine, she had her horse mojo working just fine–so fine, in fact, that Sunshine completely ignored the carrot bucket to follow Gracie along the fence! She gave him a carrot, patted his nose, and he was in love. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.
Apparently the theme of the day was “introduce your significant other to a racehorse.” One guy was a huge racing fan, and he brought his girlfriend as part of his effort to make her a fan as well. (As someone who has turned her own husband into a racing fan, I can totally appreciate the effort!) The guy was excited to meet Norty, Gulch, Dan, and especially Commentator. And he was kind of a sentimental guy, clearly appreciating the horses for their beauty and heart as much or more than for his efforts at handicapping. Now, I just hope we helped convince his girlfriend! Another couple this afternoon was much the same. The wife was pretty surprised that her non-horse-person husband liked Tator enough to want to go back and give him more carrots. I do know that Tator can be a bit rambunctious, enough to put off some people. But, really. How can you not adore a horse who loves to show off for the crowd, but is smart enough to be calm for small children and the 6’4” grown man who is just a little nervous around him?
So as I was making that drive home, I thought about some of the questions I was asked today—about what kind of second careers racehorses can have, how horses come to Old Friends, and what the racing industry is doing to facilitate new homes after racing careers are over. I was reminded of the genuine passion racing fans have for the sport and for the horses that make that sport possible. And I thought, maybe the fact that Old Friends exists, that people remember not only recent retirees like Commentator and Danthebluegrassman, but older horses like Gulch, Glitterman, and The Wicked North is the true noteworthy part of the day. Maybe, because of Old Friends, horseracing found some new fans today and a little girl showed a connection to animals that could take her anywhere.
We hope you can visit us soon. But in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!