Sunday February 6, 2011

With Punxsutawney Phil venturing out of his den this past week, we all are hoping for his predicted early spring.  C’mon Phil, we know you can do it!  In the meantime, today was still a pretty nice day in central Kentucky.  It started out a little on the cold side, with a chilly wind and some clouds.  But as the morning went on, the skies cleared up and the breeze settled down some, making for a nice day to walk around the farm.

We had some special visitors at the farm today.  Matt Wooley, his wife Wendy, and Alex Brown visited us. I have met Matt and Wendy before but had never met Alex, so it was a thrill for me.  For those of you who don’t know these folks, Matt is EquiSport Photos; he takes many of the Old Friends photos you see.  His website, is well worth a visit.  Matt does beautiful work.

Alex Brown is a horseman and the founder of  He is among the leading proponents of ending horse slaughter, finding homes for ex-racehorses, and developing a cure for laminitis (the painful hoof disease that is all too frequently fatal to horses.)  And now, Alex can add book author to his resume.  His new book, Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy will be available in another month or so. ( Barbaro, of course, won the 2006 Kentucky Derby but was injured two weeks later in the Preakness. After many months of intense care, Barbaro lost his fight due to complications of laminitis. 

 Alex kindly shared the publisher’s proof of his book with us today, and I spent some time checking it out.  It’s a beautiful book, with evocative artwork and beautiful photographs. My impression is that Alex did a great job of providing context to the life, and death, of Barbaro. He covers Barbaro’s birth, his racing career, his injury and treatment.  But he also spends large parts of the book revealing how Barbaro became the catalyst for so many good things.  Topics such as racehorse rescue, anti-slaughter, second careers for Thoroughbreds, and retirement or sanctuary farms have all been hugely impacted by Barbaro’s legacy.  Alex did a wonderful job showing how all this came together in his book.

Here at Old Friends, Tour of the Cat, Easy Grades and of course Clever Allemont are direct recipients of the Barbaro legacy.  Alex will be at Old Friends sometime in April to do a book signing.  I’m sure details will be forthcoming on that event.   (See Alex, I did have nice things to say! It really is a terrific book.)

Back to the horses…I drove up to the annex today and Wallenda met me at the fence.  He was the only horse who cared though, as everyone else was either napping or picking through the dead brown grass for some microscopic growth worth eating. Wallenda munched a couple mints, slobbered on my jacket and let me kiss his nose. Then he wandered off to watch the cows in the field next door. In fact, there was a lot of napping and grass picking today. Dinard and Marshall Rooster were both laying down for their naps, side by side, bay and gray. 

The most noticeable thing about the horses today was the mud. They were covered, caked, and clogged.  The Wicked North had mud from his nose to the very tip of his left ear, covering his white face and matted into his forelock. He looked so pleased with himself!  Sunshine was covered, as was Marquetry.  I tried to scratch Kiri’s back but he was so sticky with mud it didn’t matter. Of course, it didn’t stop him from rubbing his dirty face on my arm, but then what else is new? And do you know who was relatively clean?  Swan’s Way may have had knots in his mane and hay in his forelock, but he had little mud on his body.  Ogygian and Creator were also pretty clean.  Although at this time of year, clean is more a state of mind.  Because while they may have looked clean, I know there is plenty of dirt hidden in those thick winter coats!

By the way, for those of you have asked, we are working on scheduling our First Ever Blog Event at Old Friends.  Michael and I talked briefly today about ways to make it special, and I am thinking about holding it in May sometime.  Let me know what you think–I need your input!

 We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.


Go Steelers!



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9 responses to “Sunday February 6, 2011

  1. Fern

    Hi Val,
    Just love reading your blog each week. I will get to Old Friends one of these days. Would you explain the Blog event you spoke about today. I am relatively new to all this blog thing – thanks a million for all you do.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hi Fern!
      About the blog day: over the past few months, I have had requests from some of the regular readers for a gathering at Old Friends where we could all meet one another for a personal, blog-readers day at the farm. I would be your tour guide, of course. My thinking is we could take as much of the day as we want to visit every horse at the main farm in Kentucky, and next door at the annex too. At minimum that is probably a good half day of wandering, depending on how many attend. I’d like to give everyone a chance to get to really know the horses. We’ll have a dutch treat lunch and/or dinner as part of the day so we can kind of get to know each other, too. But the main thing will be having the extended time with the Old Friends gang, since it is all about the horses! Casual, friendly, no distractions, no time limits or tight schedule, just lots of walking, carrots and slobbery horse kisses for all. We’re talking comfy shoes, sunscreen and large quantities of treats!

      Derby weekend (May 7) is out, since we have our annual Homecoming that weekend (which we’d love to have you all attend!) But I’ll throw out the weekends of May 14 or 21 as options, Saturday or Sunday.

  2. Colmel

    How can you make such a cold, snowy Michigan day feel warm? Read Val’s Old Friends blog and for a short time you’re in warm, Kentucky with the horses you’ve loved for years.

    May sounds like a grand time! I’m already getting excited!

  3. Gae

    Sounds like a good idea and a chance to visit all the horses and friends at a more leisurely pace. I’m always missing a horse or two when we visit. Ah Michigan,…is there an equine or a human connection with Old Friends? I’m a slow learner.

    • Colmel

      I am now a Michigan, but that’s recent. Prior to that, I lived in Georgia. I guess you could say there’s both a human and equine connection between me and Old Friends. I used to be in the horse business. I bred and raced thoroughbreds for many years. Some of the stallions I bred to are now at Old Friend. Even more, being a fan of racing for over 50 years, I watched these horses run and compete and thrill me to the core. I was also involved in the industry for a number of years as an officer of Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. So, you see, there are all kinds of people involved in and supportive of “Old Friends.” For all of us, though, I’m sure that the main draw is our love of the horses.

  4. Hey Val! The boys weren’t completely covered in mud… LOL!

    I didn’t realize that today (2/7/11) was Clever Allemont’s B-day!! I would have put that into this short video I made when we visited him yesterday. He looks grand!

  5. Brenda Weaver

    Blog event!!! Sounds great! Man, if you do it I will have to do a lot of homework and make up a list of a bunch of questions (or at least a few)

  6. Brenda Weaver

    OOps!! If I had just read the description before my first comment, I would have understood better, but what you described is even better than what I was thinking. A Saturday would be great!

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