Today was one of those hot, muggy summer days where just walking around makes you sweat. Horses mostly hung out swishing flies, cats hid in the cooler recesses of the big barn, and Marley the tour dog walked sedately alongside us instead of running ahead. Carrots were a welcome diversion from fly-swishing, as were people willing to take on some fly-swishing duties. Even Afternoon Deelites came over, something he hasn’t done on one of my tours since the infamous grazing muzzle showed up.
Probably the most enjoyable part of giving tours is sharing the different personalities of our horses. We were busy and had quite a few kids visit today, all of whom really had fun with the horses. I never get tired of watching how gentle the big stallions are with kids. Tiny fingers are safe from teeth, no matter that grown -up fingers may not be. Danthebluegrassman is a perfect example of that, but even Gulch and Creator are far more gentle taking carrots from kids than from adults. Clever, Marquetry and Sunshine are all great with kids, too. But our best kid horse right now just might be Patton. This morning, six kids lined up on the fence to scratch his back. Hard to say who had more fun, but as you can see from the photo, it was a happy group. The little guy in the orange shirt wrapped his arm around Patton’s neck and gave him kisses. That horse was in heaven, let me tell you. He enjoyed the attention so much he didn’t care a bit if he got carrots or not.
Our newest horse, as you know, is six year old Rapid Redux. After little more than a week, R2 has figured out the carrot bucket. More impressively, he has figured out how to meet us both coming and going—he isn’t missing a chance for carrots. He seems great with people too, happy to be fussed over, and patted. He was perfectly ok with kids climbing on the fence to pat him, and accepted kisses from anyone offering. He is a really pretty horse– a deep chestnut color with a mane and tail just a shade darker. I’m pretty sure he thinks he fell into high cotton at Old Friends.
The other “new” horse I really like is Arson Squad, although Arson has actually been with us for 5 or 6 months now. Arson isn’t on tours and won’t be for some time, as he is recovering from that injured leg and subsequent surgery. He isn’t ready to learn the meaning of the carrot bucket, yet. But he is such a pretty little horse. Today, as we walked past the small barn where he resides, he watched us from his window, probably wondering what all those little people were about.
At one point today, Special Ring was doing his tattoo trick and Pops finally had enough of the showing off. Pops bared his teeth and took a big bite at Ring, I guess telling him to knock it off. Not that it stopped Ring, he just moved a few feet out of teeth range and went right back to showing off. Pops hated it—that competition thing rears its head!
Someone in every group commented on yesterday’s Belmont Stakes, whether to ask about I’ll Have Another or Union Rags. Sadly, we’ll go another year without a Triple Crown winner. I’m glad I’ll Have Another didn’t run on a wonky tendon, and Union Rags was a classy winner. There has been a great deal of scrutiny of horse racing–on TV, in the print media, online—so much that it might be hard for the casual fan to understand what it is about racing that creates such passion for some of us. But really, it’s all about the horses. They all have so much personality: some of them are kind and gentle; others are monarchs who demand worship. And yes, Thoroughbreds love to run. We see them run in their paddocks all the time, just because they can. Today we saw Dan and Flick race to the fence to see who would get to the tour, and carrots, first. The best racehorses are highly competitive. Whether it’s running faster than the horse in the neighboring paddock, or demanding more carrots than their neighbor, the competitive streak runs deep. So while I am disappointed there was no Triple Crown this year, there is always next year. And in the meantime, we have our boys (and girls) at the farm to visit with.
We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!