Sunday March 20, 2011

Happy First Day of Spring!  And what a beautiful day it was, because despite having showers and thunderstorms in the forecast, it was a warm and sunny 70 degrees.  No rain, no thunder, no cold.  Even the mud is drying up, some!  You know it’s a great day when you see The Wicked North race across his paddock, sliding to a stop straight up on his hind legs, pawing the air.  Norty never expends that much energy!   The mood just took him, I guess.

The other reason I know spring is here is that for the first time in a while, we had a full slate of tours.  We had visitors from Ohio, Illinois, and Minnesota as well as Kentucky.  Not knowing my morning people were here from Cleveland and Minnesota, I suggested they may want to grab a jacket.  I was wrong—this morning’s 60 degrees seemed quite balmy to them. 

There were some morning naps among the horses, but not as many as the past couple weeks.  Today there was plenty of green grass to tempt a horse.  Leave Seattle and Gulch ignored us in favor of the grass.  Free Spirit’s Joy, Patton and Delay of Game napped for a bit, but we also saw plenty of action.  Swannie, Pops, Ring and Creator came over for treats with a head of steam. Even Little Silver Charm came over at a trot.  You know, generally Charmie is more of an ambler.  Charmie always has that thick full head of blonde mane, but for some reason his hairdo seems even more thick and luxurious than usual.  Someone told him this afternoon he had better hair than Pamela Anderson—and he does it all without fancy shampoo and conditioner.

With all the dead, dry winter hair clinging to the horses, many of them really love a good back scratching.  They each have different ways of letting us know they want something—Kiri rubs his face against me and Glitterman turns the part of his body he wants scratched.  This afternoon, Bull actually gave up on carrots to turn sideways to the fence, which is his “please scratch me” pose.   We did, and his hair came off in big handfuls along his back.  Underneath the old winter hair you could see Bull’s short, soft summer coat.

Bull wears special shoes that are kind of the horse equivalent of acrylic fingernails.  Usually Dr. Fraley tries to match the acrylic to the horse’s natural hoof color.  I don’t know what happened this week, but Bull is sporting lime green front feet.  A celebration of spring or St. Patrick’s Day, either way he is looking quite festive.  You can’t miss them either.  It was interesting to see people react when they saw his bright green feet and tried to figure out what to ask!

Actually, the local farrier school was here this week to trim feet, and everyone is sporting nicely trimmed hooves.  This is another fun thing to watch—the horses really want to make the people catching them work for it, running and staying just out of reach.  But once they are caught, the horses are perfectly behaved while they get their pedicures.  Kiri’s Clown fell asleep, and the guy “holding” Clever sat down on the ground while the trimming went on.  Yep, these are some mean, cranky stallions, no doubt about it.

I think racehorses are among the equine world’s largest characters.  Sometimes, I watch them and I can just see the mental wheels turning.  As you know, Special Ring will “flip his lip” and show the racing tattoo on the inside of his upper lip for anyone who asks.  When he first learned this trick, you had to be quick to get a photo of him.  Not anymore.  If there is a camera in his face, he will hold that lip up until the camera gets the shot.  You might think this is just me, but I actually wasn’t the person who noticed it.  One of the ladies on the tour realized it and after that it was clear as a bell to see him hold the pose until the camera is lowered.  This is a smart horse, and a major, major ham.

The other horse whose wheels are always turning is Commentator.  This afternoon he was on the far side of his paddock eating hay. We called and called for him, but he just lifted his head and stared.  Then he picked up an entire flake of hay and shook it at us, like he was saying “eating here people, can’t you see?”  But I could see those wheels turning, and when he dropped down for a quick roll in the mud I just knew he was plotting something.  I told the tour group to get their cameras ready.  Sure enough, Tator got up and blew toward us like he was shot out of the starting gate, bucking and kicking the entire way.  He slid to a stop right in front of us.  Show off!   Really, does anyone think horses aren’t smart?  He set us up perfectly.

It’s those little things that make being at Old Friends so much fun.  I think everyone had a great time on the tours today, learning a little about horses, racing and the individual personalities that make these ex-racehorses so terrific.   We are open daily for tours, and we hope you will visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending another Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Sunday March 20, 2011

  1. Diane Chugg

    As usual it’s great to read your update, Val. John and I will be going to The Bluegrass Stakes and will visit Old Friends the next day. Hope to see you then.

  2. Anne

    Hi Val,
    Sunday is not complete until I hear from you and the friends from Old Friends. I am glad you are all experiencing some nice weather. Bottle some up and send our way. Pleeeease! ha!
    Horses sure are characters. They sure know how to capture our attention when the want something.
    Happy next week to you and the kids.

  3. Laura

    I read that Afternoon Deelites is coming to OF! I wonder what Pops thinks about that?

  4. Jerry

    Hi Val….
    Absolutely love reading your blog and look forward to making my “First of the Week” reading from Old Friends. Haven’t seen anything lately about Tinner. How’s He doing? Hope everyone (human and equine) is doing well. Looking forward to your response. See you all sometime this summer. Take care. Jerry and Donna

  5. Barbara Flynt

    I read your blog about The Wicked North running, carrying on being happy and then he is gone. It is amazing how things change so quickly. I am sure he is running like the wind on the other side showing what he is made of. My deepest condolences at the loss of Norty. I met him once at Old Friend and he was a true Champion.

  6. Margaret

    I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Wicked. I met him two years ago and I swear to you that the more I rubbed his head the more content he content he became. I just couldn’t rubbed long enough to suit him…It surely felt like I had made a friend that day. I am glad I was able to keep my promise to him that I would come back after the tour to visit. Somehow he knew that I had promised him and kept my word–he understood enough human.

    I will truly truly miss him.

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