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.