Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sunday May 29, 2011

It was a crayon kind of day—blue skies, white clouds, green grass, red and black and brown horses.  Even the sun seemed to be shining bright yellow.  With temperatures in the upper 80s  and with a nice refreshing breeze, it’s hard to imagine how central Kentucky could be any prettier than it was today.  And being a holiday weekend, we were busy with visitors from any number of different places—Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri and Washington State.

The morning tour turned out to be the kids’ tour.  I’m not sure how many kids we had, but there were plenty of them!  They were all terrific, well-behaved and fun.  I love to see the little ones learn to feed carrots and pat those big horses.  It doesn’t matter what the kids are doing, the horses are endlessly interested in them. And Marley was in boxer heaven, sitting in the shade with four or five kids hanging all over her. 

We started out our day with Afternoon Deelites, who has already figured out that groups of people bring carrots. He met every tour at the fence, both at the beginning and end.  He is an absolutely, drop dead gorgeous horse, and he poses for photos like he’s been doing it forever.  Which, I suppose, he has.  I’ll tell you, I always assumed Pops got his tendency for camera hogging because he was a movie star.  Now I’m not so sure it isn’t genetic, because Daddy Deelites is a ham, too. And he is a very enthusiastic treat eater.  He might need some practice distinguishing fingers from carrots, but that’s only because he is so eager.  I totally enjoyed him today, and by this afternoon he was much more of a gentleman about taking treats.   He fits right in at Old Friends, that’s for sure.

Another horse who loves his treats but who is extremely dignified about expressing that is Patton. It seems that everyone who meets him loves him—in large part because he is so kind. No nipping, no antics.  He just stands quietly while people pat him, feed him and admire him.  His only request is that we walk over to him–he is too cool of a customer to act very excited about treats.  And he is too kind to be scary, so even non-horse people fall for him. 

I have to say the best moments of the day came with the guys on the afternoon tour. They really got into scratching Kiri’s back.   Kiri always loves having his back scratched, but usually that job falls either to the kids or maybe the women on the tour.  I have never had a bunch of grown men have so much fun.  And being men, they put some muscle into the scratching, much to Kiri’s delight.  I thought Kiri was going to fall over in bliss. His neck was stretched out and his upper lip was quivering. When the guys stopped for a second, he stomped his foot and demanded more.  Kiri loved it so much he turned around and presented his butt for more scratching, leaning right into his fence until he was practically sitting down. I wish I had thought to get out my phone and take some video; it was pretty darn funny.  (And isn’t that something you never thought we’d say in the same phrase?  Phone and video!)

Ball Four is also outside now and enjoying tours as well. He met us at the fence for every tour, gobbling his share of the carrots. He looks terrific, having put on enough weight that his racing fit days are long gone.  He looks like what he now is: a happy, pretty, fat, retired ex-racehorse.  No problems with that!  He seems to like hanging out in the corner near Sunshine and Patton. Do you think they talk about the “old days?”

Even Delay of Game met us for tours today.  He often chooses not to do so, I suppose because he is too busy relaxing and watching the traffic go by.  It seems to mesmerize him sometimes.  But he looks great too, all shiny and pretty.  This is the best time of the year for shiny and pretty—winter coats are gone but the sun hasn’t done its bleach job yet.  Delay is another nice horse that people really seem to like.  I’m glad he is getting over his fascination with cars and joining us on tours!

As you may know, we lost one of our long-time gelding residents this week.  Easy Ellis died sometime overnight earlier this week.  Easy has lived at Old Friends since before I started volunteering at the farm, and it seemed to me he was kind of like the furniture—been there always and always will be there. He lived in one of the large pastures at the back of the farm, along with Kudos and Bonapaw.  We aren’t sure what happened, but I know that horses, like people, can have heart attacks.  Or maybe he just had somewhere else he had to be. 

Easy, I have vivid memories of you in that back paddock and to me, you are still there.  You must be a little ways over the hill, just beyond where I can see you.  I’m sure you’ll be waiting at the fence next time I visit, or maybe the time after that…

Thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.  We hope you can visit us sometime soon.

-Val

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Sunday May 22, 2011

Last week?  Cold rain.  This week?  Spring has apparently given way to summer, as it was mid to upper 80s this weekend, and rather humid. There’s no point in complaining about any weather in Kentucky, because it sure will change on a dime.

Today was the kind of day I really enjoy at Old Friends—full to bursting with tours, lots of terrific people from all over, and topped off with a troop of Girl Scouts and their families.  I think the horses love these days for exactly the same reasons.  Well that, and lots of people translate to lots of carrots!

As our morning tour was visiting Kiri and Awad, we saw a large horse trailer pull into the drive. Our newest resident, Afternoon Deelites, was on board and letting us know he was in the house.   We hurried up to the big barn in time to see him stride off the trailer like he owned the place.  Afternoon Deelites is the sire of our Popcorn Deelites, and the two horses really look nothing alike.  AD is a big, muscular, dark bay horse with a classically gorgeous head.  Pops is lighter, both in physique and color, and he has that distinctive and unique face that looks nothing like dad’s.  AD and Pops are our second father-son duo, along with Gulch and Wallenda. (Note:  Tim Ford reminded me on Tuesday that Tinners Way and Riva Way are also father and son!  So, we have three duos!) I took every tour into the big barn to see AD today, but he was far more interested in watching every other horse he could see from his stall window. He wasn’t ready for carrots just yet. Check out Afternoon Deelites’ pedigree here.  By the way, Afternoon Deelites finished 8th in the 1995 Kentucky Derby, under Kent Desormeaux.  That year, the Derby was won by Thunder Gulch—a son of our Gulch. 

Anytime a new horse arrives, especially a stallion, it is a bit of a routine-buster for the other horses. Today, between AD’s arrival and Ball Four’s turnout in a paddock along the pond, you’d think the other horses would be wound up.  But they weren’t really too bad.  Marquetry ran some when the trailer arrived, but he’s a show off anyway.  The only horse who seemed worked up was Falcon Scott. He huffed and puffed and paced on and off all afternoon.  Don’t know if it was Afternoon Deelites’ arrival or that he could see Ball Four across the way.  Probably it was a little of both. 

And then there was Gramps—nothing is going to change his routine, by golly.  Certainly not the arrival of some young whippersnapper!  And Gulch pretty much could have cared less too.  But then, Gulch is He-Man.  He believes he is the top dog, and while any number of the stallions would beg to differ, you’ll never convince him otherwise.

You know, they say there is a person for every horse.  Our own Leave Seattle has plenty of friends, but he is not known for his willingness to stand and be fussed over.  This afternoon, one of our visitors really took to Leave, and he took to her.  She stood and stroked his face the whole time we were visiting Awad and Swannie.  The two of them just hit it off and he was as content with her company as I have ever seen him.  I think he would have followed her home if he could have.  I’ve never really seen him act like a puppy dog before, but he sure did today.

Even without the Girl Scouts, we had plenty of kids visit today.  Ranging in age from maybe 4 to high school, every single one of them was fun to have on a tour.  There were plenty of first-ever horse kisses (Marq and Free Spirit’s Joy do especially well with that) and lots of horse slobber.  I had fun teasing a couple 14 year olds who “eeuwed” every time they encountered slobber. But they get a big pass—one of the girls donated the proceeds from her Kentucky Derby party sno-cone sales.  So as far as I am concerned, she can get as grossed out by horse slobber as she wants!

I had a couple of inquiries into how Stormy Passage is doing, and I can say he is doing great.  He is still on stall rest with no visitors in order to keep him from bouncing around on that bowed tendon, but he is getting better and will continue to improve.  Someone also asked about Bluesthestandard, who has been barn-bound with his own tendon issues.  Blue was outside for a while today in Charmie’s paddock.  He is doing much better as well. 

We are open for tours every day, at 10 am, 1 and 3 pm. In addition, on weekends we offer an additional, evening tour.  For more information or to make a reservation, call the office at 502-863-1775.  Thanks to all the fun folks who visited today. We hope you can visit us soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!     

 -Val

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Sunday May 15, 2011

Today, I realized rain is a four-letter word!  As the downpour strengthened this afternoon Dan and Flick watched us walk around from inside their shed, probably wondering just what makes all us silly people tick.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This morning was better described as misty, as opposed to rainy, and it was wonderful weather for horses.  There was so much activity on the farm it was hard to know where to look.  If you watched Pops and Ring bucking, you’d miss Swannie cantering in circles.    It was the Old Friends version of “Dancing with the Stars…”  And if you turned to look at Swannie, you missed something else.

This morning we had a photographer from Oklahoma stop by for her first visit to Old Friends.  My first thought was, “oh no, it’s such a gray and rainy day.”  But it turned out fantastic, in large part because there was so much activity to photograph.  Marquetry reared three or four times, straight up in the air.  Gulch watched all Marq’s antics and you could just see him rolling his eyes.  Kiri’s Clown backed right into the fence, letting us know he wanted his butt scratched.  Swannie, as mentioned earlier, has obviously been watching video of Zenyatta because he was working on his dance step.  (Never seen Zen dance?  Go here and watch her.)

Pops and Ring staged a mock stallion fight, rearing up with the cloudy sky as a backdrop.  Then for good measure, they ran around their shed and slid to a stop in front of us.  The sliding stops had the added benefit of spraying mud in our direction, which was likely their plan all along.   Patton was fascinated by a visitor’s umbrella, curiously sniffing and nipping at it.  He wasn’t spooked by it at all; I actually wonder  if he was thinking he should get one to use while grazing in the rain!  More likely, he hoped it was edible.

Bull arched his neck and pranced for his photo. Apparently he’s heard the rumor that Breyer is doing a model of him.  I saw a photo of the model today, and it’s Bull, all right.  He’s never going to let anyone forget that he is the first Old Friends horse to be “Breyered.”  Pops is going to have a fit. Commentator is probably already miffed and I imagine Tinner is just beside himself! Seriously, it’s quite an honor and Bull is an excellent choice. 

We walked far enough up the hill today to see Mighty Mecke, Wallace Station, The Name’s Jimmy, Tinner and Williamstown.  Tinner was REALLY mad that we walked all the way up there without treats and he could barely contain his overwhelming irritation.  He literally was vibrating with annoyance!  Willy wasn’t much happier, although the other horses were all just fine with a pat and a kiss.

Recent retiree Ball Four moved to the main farm this week, and was in his stall in the main barn for us to visit today. He likes carrots and mints, although I am not too sure how he feels about people.  You know, some horses are happy to visit, regardless of your treat status.  It seems Ball Four might require some level of bribery—but he’s in good company with the likes of Creator, Leave Seattle, and Gulch. They all expect a bribe or two, as well!  Ball Four is a very pretty horse, though and I know he will be very popular with visitors.

By the time this afternoon rolled around, the morning mist gave way to actual rain, continuous and cold.  The morning’s activity gave way to shed time and visitors (as well as the tour guide and her dog!) went from mildly damp to outright soaked.  Sunshine, Swannie, and Awad peered out at us with no interest in visiting.  Even Pops and Ring retreated to their shed, as did Dan and Flick.  Silver Charm huddled in the back corner of his shed, gazing at his pin-ups of Zenyatta and daydreaming “if only.” 

It wasn’t until dinnertime that anyone ventured out of the sheds.  Rain or not, dinner reigns!  After a couple of van tours and a large bus, we finished up the day with some veterinary interns and their friends.  Tim had a group of northern Kentucky middle school students. For a rainy day, we sure had a lot of visitors. 

The horses are all doing great, and we hope you can visit us soon.  But in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!  -Val

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Monday May 9, 2011

It was a busy weekend for sure, with the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, the Derby on Saturday and Old Friends Homecoming yesterday.  Thankfully, we had what might have been the first completely nice weekend here in some time.  With the exception of a quick shower early on Derby afternoon, it was dry, sunny and not too warm.  It was perfect weather for outdoor activities.

I attended my first-ever Kentucky Derby this weekend and as you can imagine, it was quite an experience.  Of course, we chose the year that set an all-time attendance record!  Let me tell you, 164,000 people are a LOT of bodies!  We had a great time, though.  When all those people sing “My Old Kentucky Home,” even if you aren’t a Kentuckian you can’t help being swept up. 

We always seem to find an “Old Friends” connection at the races, and this weekend was no exception.  The Oaks was won by the Bob Baffert-trained Plum Pretty.  Kent Desormeaux rode a nice winner on Saturday and Get Stormy (Kiri’s grandson) won wire-to-wire the same day.  And of course, trainer Graham Motion, who has been a friend to Old Friends as well, won the Derby with Animal Kingdom.  It was a darn good weekend at the races.

After a long Derby day at Churchill Downs, on Sunday morning I headed over to Old Friends for my first tour in what seemed like forever.  We had nice-sized group at 10 am, with some returning visitors and some first-timers.  It was just warm enough that everyone seemed kind of lazy—even Commentator ambled over rather than run.  Being Derby weekend, I especially liked visiting our Derby horses.  Bull in the Heather and Wallenda ran in the 1993 event, and Danthebluegrassman was entered in 2002 but scratched.  Dan had an exceptionally fun weekend, as he was an honored guest at the Governor’s Derby breakfast here in Frankfort Saturday morning.  I heard that Dan happily greeted every child, and probably lost some hair on his face from all the pats he received.

I probably say this every year but whenever I go to the Derby Museum, which I did on Saturday, there is just something about seeing Bull’s and Wallenda’s names on the wall under the 1993 Derby.  They were among the top three year olds of their year, and that is pretty special.

Yesterday afternoon was spent preparing for the Homecoming celebration.  The paddocks looked lush and green; the big barn was set up for the silent auction.  When Tommy Walters showed up with his Furlong’s mobile BBQ and you got the first whiff of smoke, the day just got better!  There was live music and I heard a number of people remark that the silent auction was the best ever.  We had halters from Lane’s End, Darley, Three Chimneys, Ashford and of course Old Friends.  We had Mo-Neighs. We had jewelry, pottery, books, posters, original artwork and prints, and horse hats.  There truly was something for every race fan and horse lover.  There was some spirited bidding too, over some of the jewelry, the horseshoes and especially the halters. And once again, I was shut out of a Point Given halter!  Sigh. Someday.

Of course, the best part of the day was seeing the friends we’ve made over the years, and making some new friends as well.  I was sorry to see that I wasn’t the only person who lost out on some item they truly wanted, but like me, there’s always next year!  The other high point of my day was taking Wallenda’s other biggest fan over to see the big horse.  Wallenda even behaved–he barely tried to nip!

I had a couple of requests to mention specific horses more often in the blog, so I’ll start with the Leave Seattle request.  Tour guide and farm friend Nick told me this weekend his summer project is to turn Leave Seattle into a teddy bear.  Ok, so maybe he didn’t put it quite like that, but since Nick regularly shares a beer with Bull, I figure it’s only a matter of time before Bull, Leave and Nick can be found down the road at a local watering hole.  Little Silver Charm, who I hear has a history of bar hopping, will probably be joining them.

With that little bit of silliness, (and a couple weeks off to visit family) I am glad to be back in my blogging routine.  I want to thank everyone who came out to the Homecoming yesterday.  I see how much these old horses mean to people;  it is sign of people’s heart and kindness that we receive so much support.  We continue to offer tours daily—contact the office at 502-863-1775 for a reservation.  We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime, thanks for everything you do to help support Old Friends!  

 -Val

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