Sunday August 21, 2011

After a couple weeks of photo blogs, it’s nice to be back writing.  I can tell summer is winding down and the school year is beginning, because it was a relatively quiet day with only a few people on each tour.  The weather was nice; despite some rain in other parts of the state we stayed dry until this evening, with sunshine and a nice breeze most of the day.

I have mixed feelings about having fewer people on tours.  Of course, I love to introduce as many people as I can to our horses. On the other hand, smaller tours mean more time with each horse, and a chance to really see individual personalities shine.  We can take the time for a really good back scratching for Kiri, or to let Sunshine tell us he is the greatest horse ever.  We can chase some flies for Gulch and give Commentator’s face a good rubbing.  And it’s ok if Ogygian detours for a drink of water before he ambles over, while we lean on the fence and discuss everyone’s questions in depth.

I really enjoy getting to know the new stallions, too.  As our most recent addition, Prized has figured out the routine and he happily meets us at his gate for treats.  Prized is in the paddock previously belonging to Awad, and I found it interesting to note that Pops and Ring are working on irritating Prized much like they did Waddy.  Pops and Ring stand across the fence and eyeball Prized, who paws the dirt and tosses his head and grumbles.  I think it’s kind of like having small kids in the backseat of the car on a road trip:  “Mom, he’s looking at me funny.  Tell him to stop!”  But then I’ve always thought Pops and Ring find many things with which to amuse themselves throughout their day!

Speaking of Pops…this week Lexington is hosting an international conference for policewomen.  Yes, I know, bear with me–there is a connection.  The kids on the afternoon tour were out sightseeing with dad while mom was busy at the police event.  The daughter shows horses in Canada, and was especially happy to meet Pops. Apparently her last show had a costume class, where she and her horse dressed as Red Pollard and Seabiscuit! I thought that was pretty cool. Pops probably thinks they were dressing as Pops, of course, not the “real” Seabiscuit.  (By the way, people ask me all the time why Pops was picked for that movie.  I’m sure it’s because he was available and works cheap.  I’m equally sure Pops believes it’s because he has immense acting talent…)

Along with her parents, the other child on the farm today was visiting our farm manager Janet.  We stopped our tour to watch as this teeny, tiny girl dressed in pink fed Marquetry carrots.  She barely came up to his knee.  Kent held the lead and Marq dipped his head to little girl level, taking nearly her entire hand gently in his lips to get those carrots.  The whole thing was pretty adorable. 

Old Friends has another new horse, as well.  He is a great addition to the farm—no oats or hay needed and he takes up about 3 feet of space.  Plus, he is very fancy.  You’re probably wondering, right?  Well, I noticed today there is full-sized carousel horse in residence inside our gazebo.  No idea how he got here, what his racing stats look like, who trained him or what his breeding is.  But he sure is pretty!  Besides, how can anyone resist a carousel horse?

Thought I’d update everyone on a couple horses I’ve been asked about recently.  Stormy Passage is doing fine. He is still in the barn, receiving treatment and work on his injured tendon.  But he is shiny, happy and sometimes a little rambunctious.  He’ll eventually be fine.  I’m Charismatic has graduated from total stall rest to spending a couple hours each morning outside in a small paddock. That’s about all the time his over-used ankles can take before he heads back into his stall to rest, but it’s a big improvement over all day inside. He also looks shiny and content.  Canadian champ Benburb, who as you all know has melanoma, is still the fattest, happiest horse south of Niagara Falls.  He goes out at night and spends his days inside the barn. No horse, including peppermint-hound Tator, loves his mints more than BennieHe is a sweetheart.  Ball Four and Cherono are having a blast in their big field with Kudos and Bonapaw.  That is a good foursome.  And one of my other favorites, seven-year-old Gasconade, has grown and filled out into a gorgeous bay stallion.  There are not many prettier horses than he, although I am somewhat biased I suppose.

That’s about all from here for this Sunday.  Tomorrow is farrier-school hoof trimming day at the farm, also known as It Takes Six People To Catch Pops And Ring Day.  There’s some Funniest Home Video potential there! 

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




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6 responses to “Sunday August 21, 2011

  1. Hello Val
    Great to know Stormy Passage and I’m Char are better. Been wondering about them. What will the max be in regards to Char’s ability with his ankles? How’s Clever? Thanks.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hey Mike.
      Clever is fantastic–dappled, shiny and with a cute little potbelly! I am not a vet nor any kind of professional horse person of course, but I suspect I’m Charismatic is about as good as he’ll get. He has a little outside time, plenty of comfort in his stall and company in the barn with Stormy, Gasconade during the day and Clever at night. If he improves more with time, that will be a bonus.

      • Val
        What I’m wishing is I’m Char can have many yrs of quality of life. I’ve
        inquired about him for almost a yr.

        • oldfriendsblog

          you know, I think he has a pretty nice life all things considered. Of course we humans always wish for more somehow, but horses are simpler creatures. Food, water, good hay. Some green grass and sunshine. He is quite content with that, and gets plenty of attention. He doesn’t realize we wish he could be outside all the time, he just lives his life and enjoys himself. Nothing wrong with that at all. -Val

  2. Jason Matthews

    I was happy to see Val write this week about my boy, I’m Charismatic. My wife, Mary, usually handles the online stuff, but I really want to give a brief recap of I’m Charismatic’s life at Old Friends.

    When he first got there, he was able to go out to a huge paddock all day long. We were there the second day he was let out and were able to get great pictures of him galloping around. We would visit weekly, and as the time went by we started noticing him limping a little bit. We hoped it was just a hoof abscess, but it didn’t get any better. The decision was made to move him over to the Annex farm so Janet and Kent could keep a better eye on him. We visited him constantly at the Annex, but he was still struggling to walk normally on his right front leg. At that point, he was moved to the main farm and placed on stall rest in the little barn.

    We hoped time resting his leg would have been enough. All through the summer, he stayed a perfect patient in the little barn. My wife would demand we go down at least weekly to visit. She claimed that he needed hand-fed pulled grass to keep him content on stall rest. So we made the 2 hour, one way trip countless times the summer of 2010. Unfortunately, stall rest was not enough to fix his leg. Michael called us in the fall and after consultation with Janet, Kent, Dr. Byars, and Dr. Fraley, the decision was made to try the unconventional and put a cast on his ankle. This was done to help force the ankle to fuse.

    We asked if this was a normal thing and we were told no. You see, you can’t explain to a horse that this big fiberglass thing on their leg is a good thing. Most horses would bang the cast and break it off. I am convinced that I’m Charismatic knew we were helping him. I can’t prove this, but I think the fact he allowed not just one, but three casts placed on his leg proves me right. Late this spring, the decision was made to start letting him out of the stall into the small round pen. He was unsteady, but that was due to being in the stall for so long. He has built up muscle and stability so that now he is able to go into a larger paddock.

    When we would see him in the stall, we would say how good he looked. And he did look good. He looked as well as any thoroughbred on stall rest for a year could. Now that he has been going outside, we can now say he looks GREAT without any qualifiers. He is a different horse. We can now see joy in his eyes. It would be great for him to be outside 24/7, but that is not what is in the cards for him right now.

    It was Mary’s and my dream when we got I’m Charismatic to see him running in a large paddock with other horses, playing halter tag, and engaging in general horse play. He may end up in that paddock some day, but considering what he has struggled with, seeing him outside at all is a miracle.

    This miracle would never have happened without the existence of Old Friends. There is no other retirement farm in the world that would have had the time and expertise to get I’m Charismatic to where he is today. I can also never express into words the gratitude and genuine respect I have for Janet and Kent. They have taken the time to answer very basic horse care questions to a couple of novices like us, while never making us feel stupid or bothersome.

  3. You know I do love hearing about Pops and Ring and their antics. All of them for that matter..I think Pops became a movie star because someone had a horse who didn’t do too well at the track, but resembled Seabiscuit , had personality and the ability to shoot out of the gate with gusto!

    Thanks for your blog, Val..

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