Sunday October 9, 2011

No doubt at all in my mind that today was the busiest day I have had all year, and that includes our usual busy weekends of Derby, Breeder’s Cup and Breyerfest.  I bet we had 30 or more people on the 10 am tour this morning alone, and from start to end today’s tours were filled with really nice people.  With that many people, I tried to take extra time to make sure everyone gets some quality “horse time.”  As a result, this morning’s tour lasted over two hours. I hope everyone got a chance to feel connected to at least one horse.  I know this:  the bigger the tour, the more carrots for Marquetry. And doesn’t he just know it!

I think the main reason we were so busy, of course, is this was opening weekend of the Keeneland Fall Meet. Most of the morning people came to the farm before heading over to the races.  You know, a lot of the tours I give are to people who like horses but who aren’t necessarily racing fans.  Today it was the opposite—some of the people knew far more about our horses’ race records than I do.  So I stuck with my strengths—overseeing the dispensation of horse kisses and slobber!

For a cool morning, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity.  In fact, we only saw three–make that four–horses run today.  Stormy Passage cantered and bucked around his small pen this morning.  He was racing the tractor, of all the reasons to run and buck.  He looks terrific and is moving really well.  I have high hopes that he is ultimately going to be a sound, happy horse.  Gasconade cantered along his fence after he was turned out for the evening and Pops burst out from behind his shed to impress the visitors.  He knows how to make that dramatic entrance! And not to be forgotten, Silver Charm cantered over for treats every time we passed by him.

On the other hand, I had to walk into Kiri’s paddock to roust him from napping in his shed.  We had a little girl on the tour who really wanted to see him, so we obliged.   Speaking of Kiri’s Clown, I brag on his racehorse grandson Get Stormy fairly often.  Stormy (who I heard today is called Clyde around his barn because of his flashy Clydesdale-like coloring) ran a terrific second to Gio Ponti at Keeneland yesterday.  There is no shame in running second to a horse of Gio Ponti’s caliber, so I was pretty happy. I suppose Kiri was impressed too, but you know, mostly he just wanted carrots. 

This afternoon a couple of ladies visited who have been horse people all their lives.  One of them had worked as an exercise rider and then as a stallion groom.  Among the horses she knew during her career was the great Dr. Fager.  She also knew In Reality and a couple other old-time horse names you don’t hear much anymore.  One of the great things about giving tours at Old Friends is meeting all the different people, some famous, most not, but nearly everyone interesting and genuinely nice. 

When the tours are as full as they were today, the questions come fast and furious.  Among the most common is, “why the double fences in Kentucky?”  My answer—the space in between provides a handy pathway for paddock access.   They also work like a demilitarized zone, to keep horses from sparring across the fences.  Another question is always “What are the blindfolds for?”  Answer:  fly masks, and the horses can see right through them.  They will be put away once fly season winds down.  In the case of Pops and Ring, fly masks and halters become toys to chew on, tug on, pull off and otherwise destroy!   People often ask why Pops and Ring are “naked” and that is why! 

Another frequent question today was, “Are the horses fed during the summer when the grass is green?”  Yes, they get a special mix of grain made for senior horses, twice a day.  If they need to watch their waistlines they get the diet version, which is much like eating plain shredded wheat instead of Captain Crunch.  When the grass is not green and growing, the horses get hay in addition to their grain.

Today I was also asked how to interpret the breeding information displayed on the horses’ markers in the cemetery.  It goes like this: 

Black Tie Affair (name of the horse)

Miswaki (sire) x Hat Tab Girl (dam) by Al Hattab (dam’s sire)

There were so many more questions—about horseshoes (most of ours are barefoot unless they have special foot needs), cold weather (horses do fine with cold, more so than blazing heat, as long as they have plenty of food and water), and do the horses freak out in thunderstorms (not at all).   

Before I end today, I want to say a special hello to a couple of regular blog readers, Lin and Shelby.  I met a very excited Lin this morning; her friend Shelby lives in Minnesota and unfortunately wasn’t here for this visit…So, hi ladies!  

The final question of the day was this:  “Do you offer tours all year long?”  Yes we do, and we’d love to have you visit sometime.  In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends! 




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11 responses to “Sunday October 9, 2011

  1. Hello Val
    Sounds like a great day to be @ Old Friends. Planning on coming back to
    Kentucky in the next couple weeks hoping to see I’m Char. and Stormy Passage. Will they be out for the tour in the morning only or also available in the afternoon? Is Tim still a guide?

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hey Mike.
      Tim is around as often as he can be, since he lives out of state, I can let him know if you have a date for your visit and want to see him. IC is outside in the mornings until maybe 11 /noon, so the morning tour is best. Stormy gets out in the round pen for maybe 90 minutes, also in the am. So 10 am tour is your best bet at this point if you want to be sure to see them.

      • Ok, thanks. Please tell Tim that I followed up on his suggestion last yr about visiting Maggie Slew at Swifty Farms. He told me about her. Last month got to see her and bring mints. She looks great and seems very gentle.

  2. Susan A

    Hi Val,
    I’m finally on my way to Old Friends on Friday, this coming weekend and can’t wait! I’m hoping you might be there on Friday?? (And I’m really hoping all the fly masks are off so I can see those handsome faces!)
    By the way, is there a better tour time to come to see the horses that are not normally on the regular tour?
    Hope to see you!

    • oldfriendsblog

      Sorry, Susan, I am not there on Fridays as I have the “real” job to contend with duiring the week! Which horses are you looking to see? We have so many that it isn’t possible to see them all on one tour, but if you let your tour guide know, I’m sure they will try to accomodate. Have fun! -Val

  3. Michelle

    I was just there last Thursday and had a blast with Afternoon Deelights. He would stomp his foot at me and I would stomp back. He wanted carrots and I wanted pictures so we finally compromised and it worked out beautifully. =)) Saw Get Stormy at Keeneland too. I was pulling for Gio but so glad to see Stormy get second to make his grandpa Kiri proud. My trips to Lexington are never complete unless I stop at Old Friends. See you all in a few months!


  4. MRO

    Oh, a visit with Maggie Slew. I’m extremely envious. I’m glad she enjoyed your mint treat.

  5. Lindsey Sanquenetti

    My husband and I were in the big 10 a.m. group on Sunday. That was our 5th visit, and definitely the biggest group I’ve been there for! I posted a few of the pics I took on the Facebook page. You and I briefly chatted about Get Stormy. He is so beautiful, and I got some great pictures of him up close and personal at Keeneland on Saturday. No visit to Lexington is complete without a stop at Old Friends, ESPECIALLY when you are the tour guide. You are the best! 🙂

  6. Becky

    I saw on a news blog that Personalized had passed away – if that is the case = I am so sad because she was the daughter of such a special horse will she be buried at Old Friends?

    • oldfriendsblog

      Personalized lived at Old Friends for the past few years, and all our horses are buried on the farm when their time comes. We have a ceremony every year on Memorial Day to commemorate the horses we’ve lost over the previous year. Visitors are welcome to take part in our memorials, and you can visit our gravesites during any scheduled tour of the farm. -Val

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