Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thursday November 25, 2010

Apparently a new Old Friends holiday tradition has begun.  The Wicked North has had some requests to make his blog from last Thanksgiving an annual event. You know how these author types are—give them a keyboard and next thing you know they think they’re Steve Haskin!  So without further ado, here’s Norty…

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I don’t want to seem immodest, but a few fans have asked me what I’m going to write about this Thanksgiving, so I gathered up my metaphorical pen and talked to some of the other guys to see what they are thankful for this year. 

Marquetry—I really like it here.  People are nice, I get carrots, and this paddock I’m living in has fantastic views.  I see the everyone who comes here, I can see the barn and the house.  Talk about perfect for a nosy guy like me!

Gulch—I agree with Marquetry. It’s nice here.  I get attention and carrots if I feel like it, or I can nap all afternoon if I’d prefer.  No work, plenty of thinking time. It suits me. 

Cherono, Falcon Scott and Kudos—all three of us would like to thank The Mosses, Dottie Ingordo-Sherriffs and all the people in their organization who helped us get to Old Friends.  We love our life—plenty of attention and treats, plus we have no worries, if you know what we mean.  We also want to give extra thanks to Zenyatta, since we aren’t too proud to admit we like basking in her reflected glory! Haha

Kiri’s Clown–Since we are thanking specific people, how about all the former and current owners who donate winnings to us?  Gotta love that Uncle Mo…

Kudos—as I am related to both Zen and Blame via our common relative Kris S., I want comment on how well they held up their parts of our family tree.  They are both cousins to be proud of!

Sunshine Forever—bring a kind of great-uncle to all of you, I couldn’t agree more, Kudos! I am always thankful to see the kids do well. Now let me tell you some stories from back in my racing day. Norty? Norty? Where are you going, Norty?

Tinner’s Way—I know I am kind of arrogant sometimes, but I am actually very thankful that I am able to carry on my dad’s legacy (Tinner’s dad was Secretariat).  It really touches me to see how many folks still feel a connection to him. Now if someone would just figure out a way for me to see the movie.  And why wasn’t I invited to the premier?  Don’t you think I would have been a hit on the red carpet?  I can just see it: paparazzi calling my name, flashbulbs popping, starlets begging for photos, “Tinner, Tinner, over here Tinner….”  Ahh, what should have been…

Popcorn Deelites—Puh-lease!  Who does he think he is, some kind of movie star?  There’s only room for one of us here, and it ain’t him!  But some people talk the talk and some of us walk the walk, if you know what I mean.

(Was that a wink, Pops? Because some of us were actually good racehorses. –Norty)

Leave Seattle – Eye roll happening here.  By the way, I just want to say thanks in general.  My life is pretty good. 

Bonfante—You know, the thing I am most thankful for this year is my sense of a heightened interest in finding homes for ex-racehorses.  I know some of us are not going to be able to have new careers, but we all deserve someone to love, even if we just live in a pasture and look pretty.  Speaking for all the horses like me who aren’t famous or on the covers of magazines, thanks to anyone who finds a happy post-racing home for any one of us. 

Fortunate Prospect— Huh? What did you say Norty?  Thankful?  Sorry, I was napping. Yes, yes, I know I am the oldest.  I prefer Elder Statesman, by the way.  But my comment is simple, really.  I hear people talking and I know the economy has been tough these past few years.  So I am most thankful for everyone who has found a few extra dollars to send to Old Friends.  We are dependent on the generosity of humans, and it amazes me how many people really care.  So thanks to everyone who helps retired racehorses—the veterinarians, the farriers, the grooms, the farm people, owners, trainers, jockeys, and the people who bring us our feed and haul our hay every day. Thanks to everyone who visited us this past year and to all of you who have shares in each of us.   Speaking for each of us, we appreciate it with our very lives.

So there it is. I hope to be back doing this again next year.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Speaking for all of us at Old Friends, thank you.  And remember, we LOVE it when you visit us!

-The Wicked North

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Sunday November 14, 2010

All the excitement of the World Equestrian Games, the Keeneland Fall Meet and the Breeder’s Cup is over in central Kentucky.  We had our Breeder’s Cup BBQ last weekend and it was a lot of fun, albeit seeming to mark the beginning of the winter slow-down at the farm.

Last week’s Breeder’s Cup was the culmination of an exceptional summer and fall of equine activity, and over the past few weeks nearly every visitor to the farm has commented on Zenyatta. So many people who never saw a horse race watched the Breeder’s Cup, saw Zen’s videos on YouTube, were wearing Zenyatta merchandise, and came to Old Friends for the first time–because of this one horse. People who didn’t know a racehorse from a Clydesdale were asking questions about the sport, about the horses, and about the personalities involved in racing.  I met a girl whose parents brought her to Kentucky to go to Churchill Downs for her 15th birthday, and a couple who became racing fans just in the past year or so.  They never knew anything about horses but have been researching famous racehorses and races so they can learn more.   And I think every person has been amazed at just how much fun it’s been exploring this new world. 

Of course, many of these new fans found their way to the Old Friends.  For me, this makes for great touring. We can pat, feed, and interact with the horses, helping take a fledgling interest and making it personal for these new fans.  The other “side effect” of the Zenyatta phenomenon is that today’s tour stars weren’t the usual ones.  It wasn’t Pops or Tinner or Gulch or Clever who got the biggest ohhs and ahhs.  Today, the stars were Cherono and Falcon Scott, both of whom basked in Zen’s reflected glory as a result of their common ownership by the Mosses.  And both horses took total advantage of the opportunity.  I can’t tell you how many times Scotty posed with his ears pricked, looking regal and beautiful.  

This afternoon we had a youth group come to the farm to do some volunteer work.  The kids were great-they walked fences and picked up bits and pieces of paper and trash.  They helped rake and bag leaves, and they cleaned both Silver Charm’s little paddock and Glitterman’s round pen.  Sometimes it’s the small stuff that doesn’t get done, and their help today was greatly appreciated.

It was a cool but sunny day today, so some of the horses were happy to run around.  Pops cantered over for every tour.  This afternoon he, Ring and Awad raced us down the fence.  Commentator ran his fence line, watching us from a distance, until this afternoon when I finally brought some of the girls over to see him.  He was nice to the girls, but pinned his ears at me.  He blames me personally for any tour that misses seeing him!  Today, even Ogygian neighed at us until we went over to see him.  One of the teen-aged boys in the volunteer group commented on Sunshine’s age (as in, “he’s old”) and I said Sunshine could still outrun him.  So of course Sunshine gave us a head start, ran up behind us and blew right on by to meet us at the top of his paddock.  Once again, it’s abundantly clear horses understand what we say.   And can I say, I love to see Sunshine run?  So much power!

But of all the runners today the prettiest was Danthebluegrassman.  I heard hoof beats and turned to see Dan running flat-out up the hill in his paddock.  His tail was streaming straight back, with his ears pinned and his front legs reaching as far as he could.  Yeah, he can run a little, too! The girls picking up the trash were cheering him, so I guess he figured he could make the extra effort.

Despite the active day, was an almost palpable feeling of pulling back, of beginning the settling-in process in preparation for winter.  Oh sure, we had visitors and the horses were their usual entertaining selves; nevertheless you could feel the change in rhythm from summer’s activity to winter’s slowdown.  We’ll have plenty of nice weather left, however, and tours will go on.  We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

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Thursday November 11, 2010

 

Duncan

Sometimes writing this blog is so simple, and other times it is nearly impossible.   This one is beyond difficult.  This week, our friend Duncan passed away.  Duncan belonged to Janet, or more correctly, Janet belonged to Duncan.  They were literally inseparable; where there was one, you saw the other. 

Many of us have had animals in our lives, be they dogs, cats, horses, or hamsters.  We take care of them, we love them and we grieve when we lose them.  But Duncan transcended the typical human-animal relationship.  He was a best friend, an anchor, a wise counselor and a gauge of the world around him.

Almost always, the people who come to Old Friends for tours are animal people.  But everyone, animal person or not, would notice Duncan.  People invariably would be drawn in by his eyes, sometimes walking over to him as if they couldn’t help themselves.  I don’t know what Duncan saw, but I have heard people claim he looked right through you.  I guess he looked you over, and in his eyes you could see yourself for who you are; he saw you, the good, the not-so-good, and the sometimes kind of bad.

I remember the first time Duncan decided I was OK.  I had known him for some time, and while he was always gentle and kind with me, I knew I wasn’t anywhere on his list of favorite people.  But after a while, for some reason, he decided I was worthy of a kiss.  No big slobbery kisses for Duncan, though. No, his kisses were just like him—a slight buss on the cheek, a gentle glide of his wet nose. There were no ostentatious displays of affection.  He was a king bestowing his blessing on his subject. 

Some people, on the outside looking in, would assume that Duncan was spoiled.  He was not.  He was offered the best of everything: the best food, the best care, and always, always, the best and most love.  And now, with his passing, he is being grieved in the same way—deeply and with great respect, admiration and love.  No one, human or animal, can ever hope for more.

-Val

(thanks to Rick Capone for the photo)

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