Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sunday January 15, 2012

Just when you think winter is missing in action (see last week’s blog), we got a wintery blast this past week. And yes, I know compared to other parts of the country, “wintery blast” in Kentucky is a relative term! Still, we had single digit temperatures during a couple of nights, the snow swirled but didn’t really accumulate, and the wind was bitterly cold.  The sudden change from nearly 60 degrees to the teens is not easy on horses or people.  So even though this weekend’s temperatures were still only in the mid-30s, the lack of wind and bright sunshine made it seem more pleasant by leaps and bounds.

Yesterday I visited the horses over at the annex farm, spending some time with Wallenda and intending to visit some of the horses I don’t see all that often.  But since the weather was such an improvement over earlier in the week, most of the horses were far out in their fields, either napping or grazing.  Wallenda was in his stall and happy to be fussed over for a bit.  WC Jones, who has a paddock at that farm, came right over to say hello. But that was it.  As far as everyone else was concerned, since I didn’t come bearing dinner I wasn’t worth as much as a glance! These are some happy and content horses.

Today, for the first time in a while, I had a busy tour.  With several families, six or seven kids under the age of 10, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, it was a family affair.   A couple of the little boys were afraid of Marley, but eventually they stopped freezing up every time Marley looked at them.  Silver Charm, who has reached new levels of shaggy this winter, was far more interested in visiting than playing soccer.   Clever Allemont came over as soon as he spied children, his favorite visitors.   He looks pretty shaggy too, but for a 30 year old horse with a hitch in his hip, one good eye and bad hearing, he does just fine.

Dan and Flick were next on our visit, and I think Dan likes kids best of all, too.  He gobbles carrots of course, but he also tickles hair, licks hands and gives kisses.  Dan is not above nipping at the grown-ups, but he can make a kid giggle like nobody’s business!  Flick isn’t the clown that Dan can be, but he is unfailingly kind and gentle.  The two horses are quite a team when you have a bunch of kids on the tour.

Of course, Dan and Flick are just a warm-up for the two princes of popularity, Pops and Ring.  Ring was waiting for us at the fence, showing his tattoo and mugging for photos.  Pops was right behind him, posing for family pictures with the kids like he was some kind of favorite relative.  I would imagine some folks will be watching “Seabiscuit” again soon, looking for their new movie star friend.

The whole time we were with Pops and Ring, Prized stood and watched, patiently awaiting his carrots.  Then, after getting many carrots from little hands, Prized met us at every corner of his paddock, just in case we didn’t recognize him from earlier and had more carrots for him.  You know, I’m sure Prized had a nice life wherever he lived prior to Old Friends.  But that horse just LOVES his carrots, as much as any horse on the farm.  You’d think he never got anything but bread and water!

After quick stops with Leave Seattle, You and I and Kiri’s Clown, some of the kids were getting a little cold, so we finished up our tour with Sunshine and Patton.  The littlest girl, who rode most of the tour in her stroller, for some reason was fascinated by Sunshine and wanted to give him carrots.  She held out her little mitten-clad hand and Sunshine took carrots as gently as can be.  As we left, she had to go back and give him one more.  I say it all the time, but I am always amazed how the littlest kids are so unafraid of the biggest horses, and how gentle and kind those big stallions are with those tiny children.

Now that we’ve had a couple day of winter, I am fully ready for spring.  That might be wishful thinking, but it will be here in no time.  Until then, a nice winter day is a great time to visit Old Friends.  We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Sunday January 8, 2012

I’m not too sure what’s happened to our winter, because it sure was a nice weekend in central Kentucky.  Today was a sunny day with temperatures in the upper 40s and a very light wind.  I have no doubt the real January weather will arrive eventually, but for now the horses were all enjoying some naptime in the warm sunshine.  When I arrived at the farm today, I could see Gramps, Sunshine, Kiri and Afternoon Deelites were all stretched out in the sun.  Most of the other horses were standing for their naps, and no one was very active.

No tours were scheduled today, so Bea and Roberta closed shop to attend some of the stud farm open houses that are always scheduled this time of year.  Along with Greg and Marley, I opted to take advantage of the quiet time at Old Friends to commandeer a golf cart and take a ride to the back of the farm.  I had yet to meet our two new gray horses, Diamond Stripes and Mikethespike.  That was high on my to-do list and it turns out both horses are pretty nice.

We made a stop to say hello to Marquetry, who is still in recovery from his colic surgery late last year. Marq continues to do well, and while he still is barred from treats, he nonetheless loves attention.  So we patted and fussed over him for awhile.  From there, we stopped to meet Diamond Stripes, who was hanging out in the round pen.  Stripes is a tall, lanky gray horse who came right over and happily munched some carrots and a mint.  I imagine some of the “lanky” will go by the wayside after a few months of Old Friends groceries—this tends to happen with horses off the track—but he seems like a very friendly horse who will enjoy being an Old Friends retiree.

One of the amusing things about wintertime is how different horses react to the slowdown in large tours and the corresponding drop in treats.  So for example, Dan looked over at us, decided we weren’t worth the effort and went back to napping.  Flick never even glanced over, and Ogygian didn’t bother to lift his head from his pile of hay.  On the other hand, Bull met us at the earliest opportunity and was vocal about demanding some treats—now, dang it!  Commentator stood across from Bull and grabbed at his carrots like he was afraid they would disappear if he didn’t hurry.  As we proceeded up the hill, Jimmy was laying down in the sun on the far side of his paddock, but Williamstown and Tinner’s Way  were waiting for our arrival.

Many of our old horses are surprisingly limber and mobile—Swan’s Way, Ogygian, even Fortunate Prospect at age 31, are quite sound.  But Williamstown is one of the horses having a more difficult time with arthritis.  He doesn’t move too smoothly anymore, and he is very careful where he puts his feet when he does move around.  Despite his aches and pains, his coat is shiny black, he is otherwise healthy and he was happy to eat as many carrots and mints as we wanted to feed him.  In his own way Willie likes to play, although you have to pay attention because he figures it’s your problem if your fingers just happen to get caught between his teeth!  But he likes to lick the salt off my hand and have me rub his nose and forehead.  All that attention for Willie just aggravates the socks off Tinner, who stomped and tossed his head until we got to him.   Tinner doesn’t want to play.  He just wants his fair share of the food!

Once we got to the back of the farm, we found Cherono and his buddy Ball Four waiting at the fence for us.  Even Bonapaw came over for treats, as did Kudos.  Next door, Futural tried to chase off Affirmed Success, who intelligently just met us farther down the fence for his share.  Mikethespike met us at the corner, and clearly has stamped out his spot in the pecking order.  No one dared chase him off.

When you don’t see the horses for a few weeks or even a month or two, any changes in their condition is very noticeable.  There was a pretty, chubby, shiny bay horse in a paddock next to Regal Sanction that I did not recognize.  I had to ask Janet—it was Delay of Game!  He looks great—he’s put on weight, his winter coat is thick and soft. He’s always been a nice old boy, and he really seems happy living in the peace and quiet at the back of the farm.

We also have a new mare named Santona, who is a sweet girl.  In fact, she is so sweet that I believe Hidden Lake is jealous, because she kind of gave us the brush off.   By far, Old Friends has mostly boys, so spending time with a sweet old mare is a treat.  It’s a totally different interaction—unless of course the mares are feeling cranky.  Then it’s a whole other dimension!   But for today the girls were all feeling mellow.  Except for Lake, who was pouting, I guess!

As we drove back down the hill, Pops and Ring barely roused themselves from their nap for treats.  They woke up when they saw Leave Seattle, You and I and Prized head our way for treats–then Pops and Ring came thundering down the hill.  All the stallions along the route came over, although Kiri was so zonked in the sunshine that we had to practically walk up to him to get so much as an ear flicker.  He eventually heaved himself up and wandered over for carrots, but it could have gone either way!  We stopped to see Sunshine who mostly wanted to play, and Patton who mostly wanted carrots.  Afternoon Deelites came over at a canter, tossing his head and looking handsome.  He is such a show-off, perhaps rivaled only by Commentator and his own son Pops. You can count on AD to make an entrance, that’s for sure.

We had a really nice time just meandering around the farm, spending time with the horses and, like Delay, enjoying the peace and quiet.  A nice winter day is a great time to visit Old Friends, and we do offer tours all winter long.  Please call the office for reservations at 502-863-1775. We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.

-Val

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