Winter is settling in, and this time of year brings a different routine to Old Friends. Tours drop off, sometimes dramatically. People who do visit are often returnees, in town for a visit. On some winter days, like the past couple of Sundays, there are no tours scheduled. Farm work slows down, horses nap, and unneeded tour guides have time to walk around and hang out with the horses.
Last weekend, as I strolled around the farm, it was peaceful. The sun was shining, and there was barely a breeze, making the 45 degree temperature seem warm enough. Today, there is 4 inches of fluffy snow and a biting wind. It sure makes last week’s weather seem a distant memory. And there is one other big difference. Sunny and 45 makes for good horse napping weather. Snowy and 28 makes for good bucking, running, kicking, biting, head tossing, ear-pricking, keep-the-blood-flowing weather!
This morning I stopped over at the annex farm. The farm’s back fence borders a cow pasture, and the farmer put hay out for his cows just beyond the fence. Most of the horses ignored the cows, but Gasconade was standing down by the cows with his ears pricked, watching them closely. I’m not sure why he was so fascinated, but when I walked over to his paddock he came at a run. He said hello, discovered there were no treats, grumbled at me, and dropped down for a good roll in the snow. He bucked his way back over to the cows, where he continued to watch them closely. I don’t know. Maybe he just likes cows.
Gasconade’s activity brought Wallenda over to see what was happening. He tugged at my jacket, accepted a kiss and a face rub, and wandered back over to his empty feed tub, just in case some grain had magically appeared. Speaking of feed tubs, one of the geldings was prancing around his paddock carrying his feed rub in his mouth. I think it’s this weather—I tell people all the time that horses like colder weather better than hot, as long as they have lots of food and water. There was plenty of activity today to prove that. I saw Seek Gold and Marshall Rooster trying to get their paddock mates worked up, and the big field of geldings—Hussonfirst, Dupars, Sgt Bert and the gang were also more active than usual. Of course, the two ladies—Klassy and Buzzy—were far, far too sensible to act like kids in the first snowfall! They stuck to business—munching hay, and well, munching hay!
I always try to make it a point to visit any of the horses who are on stall rest. Polish Navy, who is in the big barn with a hip injury and a “no tour” restriction, dozed as I leaned on his stall door and told him how handsome he is. He kept one ear pointed at me and the other flopped back. His single eye fluttered closed, and his lip drooped. I think he liked the company, much as anyone who is not feeling well does.
Our other old man with arthritis, Glitterman, was outside in the small round pen, as he is most days in the afternoon. G-man is funny—if I approach him he often backs right off. But if I lean on his fence and just be still, he can’t stand it and comes over to nuzzle me. His tongue seems to hang out of his mouth more all the time. With his gimpy knees and his swayback, he looks like the old warrior he is.
Marquetry was worked up today too. He trotted right over to see me, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Marley the dog. As she ran along his fence, Marq reared up, spun around and ran for a few strides with her. I wasn’t nearly that much fun for him, so he ignored me after that.
Tinner has moved to a new paddock, part way up the hill where Navy used to be. This puts him across from Williamstown, in a bigger space with more room to roam. I’m sure he likes it. I can tell you this much: I bet Kiri is glad he moved. You could kind of tell that Tinner’s manly-man attitude irritated Kiri no end!
It’s almost hard to remember how hot and dry it was just a short while ago, given the snow, mud and cold today. But if you like to see active horses in playful moods, and you enjoy a nice, refreshing walk on a winter afternoon, this is a great time to visit Old Friends. Especially at this time of year, we greatly appreciate reservations. We hope you can visit us soon, but until then, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.