And so, after another tough week, life at Old Friends goes on. Tours happen with clockwork timing. Horses are fed, naps are taken and flies are swished. Little Silver Charm charms the kids, and Pops shows off his movie star looks. Kiri’s Clown gets a back scratch from a handful of kids, and Commentator gives a little show with some bucks and kicks.
After a refreshing hint of fall earlier this week, today found us right back in the heat of summer. We have had little if any rain, leaving everything feeling dusty and dry. The only things really growing are weeds, specifically burrs. I stood at the fence today and pulled a tangle of them out of Luke’s (aka DuPars) forelock. He is in a paddock with four other geldings, and we had to work out the logistics first; it was somewhat like timing a presidential motorcade. Luke had to chase off Malibu Mix and Sgt Bert, then he had to be bribed with a couple of peppermints, some kisses, and a face rub. Once that was settled, Tim had to distract Hussonfirst and Thornfield while I worked out the tangled mess on Luke’s head. I don’t understand how it is that tails and manes are burr-free but forelocks– between their ears for pete’s sake—end up looking like unicorn horns! My mission for next weekend is to do the same for a couple of the other horses who also apparently stand on their heads in a patch of burrs.
We had a large group for this morning’s tour, so I took half and John took the other half. I kept the kids with my group, and after some hesitation they all enjoyed feeding treats. Pops and Ring were feeling kind of spunky today, so they actually raced a couple of the kids down the hill. It took some convincing for them to exert the energy, but eventually they broke into a lukewarm trot. The kids didn’t seem to mind—at least they all finished up at the bottom of the hill at the same time!
Someone asked me today if the horses enjoy seeing tours. Aside from the bribery of treats, the horses generally do enjoy the company. Tator double-dipped, as usual, meeting people at one side of his paddock, then innocently running over to greet us again as we fed Gulch. Clever stood under his big tree all morning, taking advantage of the shade as well as the fact that every tour conveniently walks right to him when he hangs in that spot. Marquetry and The Wicked North compete to see who can make the bigger fuss as we walk into the big barn to see them.
Part of my plan today was to visit a couple of the horses I haven’t seen much lately. Seek Gold and Sea Native live in a paddock together. Sea Native was stretched out in the sun on his side, looking like he was working on his suntan. Seek Gold came off the track last year showing some wear and tear from a long racing career, but you’d never know it now. He has turned into a beach bum, too—sun bleached, fat and lazy. Is he really an almost-millionaire racehorse, or just a dusty little bay horse napping in the sunshine? It’s hard to tell sometimes.
The other horse that looks fantastic, and a far cry from how he looked eight months ago, is Early Pioneer. You might remember me writing about him back in the winter. He had some health issues and his feet were bothering him. Today, he is a tall, shiny chestnut horse who looks and feels great. You wouldn’t know he’s the same horse. It’s amazing what good food and great hoof care (thanks Dr. Fraley!) can do for a horse.
As I wandered around the annex farm today, I was admiring a couple of horses that could win any beauty award. (Well, besides Wallenda, but as we all know, in his case I am beyond biased!) First on that list, of course, is Smokey Stover. He is just about the prettiest horse you’ll ever see—tall and lanky, a true smoky black with a white face. Don’t think for a minute he doesn’t know he’s pretty, too. He’s a bit of a show off —he certainly isn’t above striking a pose when people look at him! The other horse who is really handsome, albeit in a much less flashy way, is Gasconade. A simple reddish bay, he has a pretty face with an intelligent kind eye, adorable little pricked ears, and a thick black mane. He is a nice piece of horse eye candy, too!
Finally, I have an Old Friends shout-out to Get Stormy, grandson of our own Kiri’s Clown. Get Stormy won for the seventh time in his last eight starts, at Saratoga on Friday in the Grade II Bernard Baruch on the turf. I told Kiri about it, but at the time those kids were scratching his back. He was too distracted to care!
We hope you can visit us soon, on one of the four tours we offer each day. In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!