Sunday June 26, 2011

There is any number of things to love about Old Friends, at least for me.  The horses, of course, are the best.  The people I work with on Sundays—Bea and Roberta and Charlotte, are pretty terrific.  The fresh air and exercise work for both Marley and me.  And something happened today, as it occasionally does, that will be stuck in my memory for a very long time. But I’ll get to that…

Weather update:  cooler, low to mid 70s, cloudy, slight breeze but no rain.  The grass is very thick, lush and green.  With the exception of Awad who was lying down this morning, there was not a lot of napping today. There was, however, plenty of greedy grazing.  I think the horses know that the dry days of summer might not be too far off, because everyone was tearing at the grass like it was the best tasting stuff ever.  But nevertheless, all the horses wandered over for treats.  I guess they won’t pass up an opportunity for carrots (or mints) either. 

We were quite busy today, with an especially large group at 1 pm.  We had visitors from Canada, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and right here in Lexington.  A lot of them were returning for a second, third or fourth visit, but there were plenty of first timers as well.   We visited every horse in the front part of the farm at one point or another today.  I am still laughing at Delay of Game, who now meets us at the fence for treats.  You remember how I said he spent so much time this winter laying in his pile of hay, watching the cars go by?  Oh yeah, he meets us now, at least physically.  But he barely spares us a passing glance—he takes his carrots and still keeps one, or both, eyes on the passing traffic.  I’m not sure who or what he is looking for, but he sure seems like he is waiting for something.  And Ball Four is a treat gobbler—like a lot of new horses, he is so excited by all the free treats he just can’t eat them fast enough!

There were a lot of kids today—from barely-a-toddler up through high school.  This afternoon Clever completely gave up on the grown-ups in order to stand next to the three little kids lined up on the bottom fence rail.  He ate carrots, let the kids rub his ears, pat his forehead and kiss his nose.  Clever is definitely a kids’ kind of horse!  But every horse enjoyed the kids today—from Ogygian, who let the same threesome line up to pat his face, to Commentator who took his treats gently and with his ears pricked.

Which leads me to the best part of today: on the 1 pm tour, there was a quiet and shy little girl, maybe 8 or 9, who clearly was deathly afraid of the horses.  Her older brother, who was far more talkative, informed me that his sister had broken both her arms falling off a horse. He confided in me that he didn’t blame his sister for not liking horses.  Not sure I could disagree with that!  But here is the magical thing about Old Friends.  You think the horses didn’t understand the issue here?  We began with Gramps and Scotty, who are always kind and friendly.  Marquetry and Clever were next.  Silver Charm added his, well, charm.  Dan, Flick, Pops and Ring did their parts, behaving graciously to everyone while the little girl hung back and watched.  And then, all of a sudden and out of the blue, the little girl handed Awad a carrot.  I can’t imagine how much courage it took for her to do that, and Awad accepted it with dignity.  Next thing I know, the little girl is reaching through the fence to touch Sunshine’s shoulder.  Then, he sniffs her arm and she climbs on the fence to get closer to him.  Then we visit Patton, who stands so patiently while she reaches through the fence to pat his neck. He nuzzles her shoulder and she finally, finally pats his nose.  And at the end of it all, she gave me a little smile and said she had fun.  You can’t tell me the horses didn’t know, from beginning to end, that they had to be extra kind and gentle for her.  It kind of gives me chills, to tell you the truth.  I am around these horses all the time, and still they amaze me.

And after that, what else is there to say?  We hope you can visit us sometime soon.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends! 

-Val

Happy Birthday, Mom!

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Sunday June 26, 2011

  1. Rick Capone

    Okay, I admit it. I had a tear in my eye after reading your story about the little girl. You just have to love the horses at Old Friends. 🙂 Very nicely written. Thanks for sharing that story.

  2. Val
    Another interesting story. Glad to know the horses are all doing well.

  3. Anne

    I use to bring my doberman to school for various writing activies and he helped more kids come out of their shells just by writing him letters. He would answer them (okay, so it was me) always trying to solve their fears and giving them the confidence that they needed. We solved a bunch of problems together JD and I . They would also gang up on him when he came in and it became a where’s Waldo like day.
    I can just picture this little girl and the horses. They know when a child is afraid or when she needs special attention. Something about that sixth sense they have. They become gentle giants around them. It does bring tears to one’s eyes. Thanks for sharing, Val.

  4. Dawn

    Val, what a lovely story. I too have a tear in my eye. I think horses, especially thoroughbreds, just know to take care of children. Hope to visit again real soon.

  5. I don’t think we ever can give horses enough credit. They are so intuitive. The story was so beautifully written, I could just see it all through your word pictures. One other thing… I think Delay may be looking for someONE. My horses used to know the sound of my car. They’d start kicking their stalls if they were in or would be up by the fence if they were out. They knew “Mom” was coming with their treats. Delay may have had a special friend he is looking for.

  6. Donna Roth

    so well said. me all teary:)

  7. Fern

    Val you are just the greatest storyteller – I always enjoy your blog.

  8. Paula Higgins

    Enjoyed reading the blog Val. Just found it on your site. I send money every two weeks under my husband’s name. Have earmarked the next several for Noor’s reburial. Do you know how that is going?

    Paula Higgins

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hi Paula.
      I can’t say I have any new info on the Noor project, other than to say it’s being worked on. I’m sure we’ll all find out the details as soon as they are finalized. -Val

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