Sunday January 1, 2012

Reflections on 2011

As I stopped to think about the past year, so much has happened and some of it now seems so long ago!  But it was a fun year in many ways, and here are some of the things that stand out for me about 2011.

-Seeing Zenyatta paraded at Keeneland upon her arrival in Kentucky.  People of all ages were five, six or more deep, straining for a glimpse.  The entire event, with its party atmosphere on a bitterly cold night, was almost surreal.  On that night, Zenyatta was a no less than a rock star greeting her fans.  Truthfully, who could ever have predicted such a thing?

-My first-ever attendance at the Kentucky Derby.  I never actually saw the race—too many people standing on their seats, too many LARGE hats blocking the views of people standing behind those hats.  But it was still an experience every race fan should have if they can.  I’ll never forget the guy in the bright orange and hot pink argyle-plaid suit.  Nor will I forget Animal Kingdom, on whom I bet–because I had “a feeling.”

-Seeing the three different winners of the Triple Crown races.  And all three horses are scheduled to race in 2012.  Fantastic!

-Speaking of the Triple Crown, to me, it was nice that each of the race winners had reasonable names.  Some of the names I saw this year, while they may have been humorous, just didn’t seem to have much dignity about them–especially if the horse is Triple Crown caliber.  But, that’s just my opinion; please don’t email me! I already know plenty of people who disagree with me.

-Taking my sister and brother in-law to see the babies at Summerwind Farm, among them the hours-old filly out of Fleet Indian.  Sadly of course, Fleet Indian was among the horses we lost later in 2011.  I won’t forget that day, nor will I forget Fleet Indian.

-Seeing offspring and descendants of Old Friends stallions race and win at the highest levels.  Get Stormy and Court Vision, especially–thank you.

-Keeneland.  Just so darn much fun, no matter how many times I go. It’s a place, along with Churchill Downs, that every race fan should try to visit.

-I appreciate any time I visit one of the big stud farms to see stallions.  Any farm that welcomes fans gets a gold star in my book because while I may not own or breed racehorses, I am a huge fan of the sport.  Without exception, the people I meet are so nice and welcoming of my casual fandom.  And seeing horses like AP Indy or Bernardini or Tiznow is a flat-out thrill for me.  So thanks to those farms I have visited over the past year or so —Lane’s End, Darley, Winstar, Adena Springs, Three Chimneys, Spendthrift, Ashford and Gainesway, among others.

-Watching Afternoon Deelites strut off the trailer the day he arrived at Old Friends.  He was, and is, so full of himself!

-Breeder’s Cup 2011.  Far, far nicer weather than Breeder’s Cup 2010.

-I was caught off guard by seeing Awad’s name on the 2011 list of equine deaths in the Blood Horse magazine, and it was hard to see.  Moving down the list of stallions were the names Glitterman, Polish Navy, Jade Hunter and The Wicked North.  And that was just the stallions.  Old Friends lost mares and geldings as well.  I miss each one of those old horses.

-Some of the really terrific kids I met on tours at Old Friends:  the little girl with the bow in her hair who wandered all over with Marley, the boy who was a natural little horseman. But especially memorable is every child who starts out afraid of horses and ends up kissing noses with abandon.

-How great it’s been to see both I’m Charismatic and Stormy Passage go from injured and stall-bound to happy (and muddy!) outside horses.

-The new stallions at Old Friends (AD, Patton, Prized and You and I) who have turned out to be entertaining and fun to be around.   And, especially in the case of Patton, just plain nice.

-The 2011 Secretariat Festival.  So many Secretariat fans of all ages, from all over the world, packed into tiny Paris, Kentucky.  I think it might have been the happiest place I have been to in some time.  What fun!

-Speaking of Secretariat: the lady who came to Old Friends decked out in Meadow Stable blue from head to toe—including her rather elaborate manicure.  She was The Ultimate Secretariat Fan!

-Spending Sundays with my co-volunteers Bea and Roberta.  Wonderful people, both of them.

-All the really nice readers of this blog who came to the farm and introduced themselves.  I am often taken aback by how many blog readers are out there.  Thank you all.

I’m sure the list could go on even longer.  Post a comment, and let us know what you remember most about the past year.

Thank you all for spending 2011 with Old Friends.  Here’s wishing everyone a most Happy New Year!

P.S. Happy 31st birthday, Gramps!   You are something special.




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8 responses to “Sunday January 1, 2012

  1. colmel

    Thank you for this year’s wonderful blogs! They are always a bright spot in my weeks (unless, of course, it’s bad news – then, I’m glad I hear it from you instead of seeing in one of the equine news publications, first). Hoping 2012 is a wonderful, happy, HEALTHY year for all my friends at Old Friends – equine, human, canine and feline! (And here’s hoping that you get a RAPID new friend this year!)

  2. Kathy Breakall

    Your blogs are addictive, especially if you’ve visited Old Friends because it is our lifeline to all of its wonderful inhabitants. I can’t wait to find out who this year’s new residents will be. Blessings to all.

  3. Margaret

    I remember Mr. Wicked. I guess he was my favorite because as long as I wanted to stay and pat him–Mr. Wicked just happily stood there and allowed me too.

    I was happy to be a part of the rush to help Old Friends when that devastating bank news came along. It gives me a sense of I know I’m doing something to help–small as it is. It does take a village.

    Saying thank you to all at Old Friends seems so little when the truth is you guys work so darn hard–behind the scenes. Making sure that things get sent out in a timely manner. Feeding and checking on horses. Making sure the vet knows who is on the list to be seen. And on that list goes.

    Still I offer my thanks and a sincere wish for a Happy Joyful New Year.

  4. Carolyn from Indiana

    Thank you Val for your wonderful blog!! I so look forward to it each week. I hope to visit the farm this year. I second the wish of Colmel for a RAPID new friend in 2012! A prayer for all of the residents that passed during 2011.

  5. Becky

    Thank you for the weekly updates on how everyone is doing at Old Friends. My sadness this year is in the loss of Polish Navy and Glitterman who were my favorites. But, Old Friends provides all of us an opportunity to see and meet these great horses and spend time with them. God bless and happy new year….

  6. Dawn

    I look forward to your blog every week! I made my first visit to Old Friends last year, and am going to make it an annual visit. Wishing the Old Friends family, human and equine, a healthy 2012.

  7. Teri

    I miss The Wicked North’s sweetness. He brought the best out in everyone.
    I miss Awad. He always made me smile. But the wonderful moments far outweigh the sad ones. Dan and Flick together – just a joy to watch. Gulch,
    who knows that he is king of the world. Prized, who is just gorgeous. Huge Bull next to Commentator – always a great visual of just how different 2 beautiful horses can look. But most importantly, the smiles on the faces of the visitors is truly priceless. Everyone leaves Old Friends feeling just a tad bit better about the world. And that is the greatness of Old Friends.

  8. Michelle

    Love your blog Val! I guess I will always remember the day I heard about Awad. I was just so dumbfounded and heartbroken. He would always put on a show when I was there and I really missed him when I was there in Oct. Looking forward to 2012 and meeting the new arrival Diamond Stripes!

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