Sunday August 5, 2012

Yes, it has been forever since I wrote a blog entry!  I am not really sure where the time went, and was rather surprised to see it has been nearly 2 months. Even while I was “deblogging,” I was at the farm, so there is a lot to catch up on.  It’s good to be back.

So much has happened in two months.  This summer of 2012 has been hot, considerably dry and very busy.  We’ve lost a few of our old horses and gained a few new ones.  In addition, Commentator is spending the summer at Saratoga.  In return for Tator, the winner of over 2 million dollars, we got…Zippy Chippy, the losingest horse ever!  Seriously, Zippy and Red Down South are spending the summer in Kentucky while Tator is up north.  I’m not sure who made out better—Tator in the (somewhat) cooler New York State summer, or Zippy and Red who are in a very large, grassy pasture that normally would accommodate 3 or 4 geldings!

I have enjoyed getting to know Rapid Redux this summer.  His trainer David Wells came to visit Rapid last month.  Nice guy, loves the horse, and I think maybe he was kind of surprised to see how well Rapid has settled into life as Old Friends.  The horse loves three things:  carrots, mints, and visitors.  And for those of you who wonder if he is bored after a racetrack life, I can tell you he most definitely is not.  He occupies a stall in the big barn during the day and goes outside at night.  The daytime stall is perfect because he gets lots of attention and carrots, from every tour that comes to the farm.  Like every successful racehorse, he is more than a little bit of a show-off—and he loves a camera!  Rapid likes his naptime, too.  This afternoon we walked into the barn only to see him stretched out on his side, sound asleep and dreaming. His legs were moving—I’m sure he was running the Derby in his dreams!  Just like a big dog, sleeping and dreaming…

Every year in July is also when the Horse Park holds its annual Breyerfest weekend.  I know I talk about this every summer, but I am still completely amazed at the sheer number of people who visit.  Minivans and SUVs with “Breyerfest or Bust” painted on the windows, full of moms, grandmoms, daughters and friends, all headed to Kentucky.  (Yes, and plenty of dads and brothers—all just along for the ride, of course!)  Someone described it to me as the horse version of ComicCon.  Someone else referred to the Breyerfest folks as “Horse Trekkies!”  You get the general idea, right?  Lots of horse-crazy families taking a summer road trip!  And most of them seem to find their way to Old Friends.  I think on my Breyerfest Sunday we probably had over 200 visitors.  Thankfully, we had a second tour guide on duty.  Laura took the adults without kids who wanted to take serious pictures.  I took the families with kids who wanted to be slobbered on!  It worked out perfectly.  I can’t take a decent picture but I am the queen of horse slobber…

Those of you who know me or who have followed the blog know that, like everyone at Old Friends, I have my favorite horses.  Some of them just glom on and I am done for—Sunshine, Patton, Marquetry.  The Wicked North, Academy Award, Jade Hunter and of course Gramps were like that, too. They get me with their charm, their kindness, or their winning personalities. There are the others who aren’t really warm and fuzzy, who demand respect, and even awe—Creator, Gulch, Williamstown.  And then there are others that are so bad, and I mean B-A-D, that I instantly adore their badness!  Afternoon Deelites and Commentator are like that; Wallenda is in a class all his own.  Beautiful, yes.   Not cute, not especially kind or easy, but loaded with that bad-boy gleam in their eye that says “pay attention to me, or else!”

Well, my newest favorite is Arson Squad.  He falls solidly into the cutie–pie category.  I know, I know.  The horse won a million bucks over 5 or 6 years of racing and is recovering from an injury that would have ended it for many horses—you’d think he has to be tough, right?   But this horse is so cute I could take him home and let him curl up in the corner next to the fireplace, like an extremely large puppy.  He not particularly flashy; you probably wouldn’t pick him out in a crowd of dark bay horses, but there is something about him.  He is still very limited in his outside time—a couple hours in the small round pen, no tours or treats.   I sneak into his barn whenever I can just to say hello and pat him.  Adorable. 

So much of the country is suffering through a serious drought this summer, and earlier in the summer central Kentucky was no exception. But I couldn’t help noticing today how green all the fields are becoming.  The past couple weeks have brought enough rain that the grass, which was pretty crispy by July 4, has turned around and begun growing again. All the horses are enjoying it—Patton, Gulch and Kiri especially. Afternoon Deelites isn’t wearing his grazing muzzle anymore, so he is enjoying the new growth.  Of course, he came over for tours at a run today.  Carrots still rule, the big show-off! Clever is fat, happy and sporting dapples any horse would be proud of.  You and I’s black coat has bleached quite a bit.  He kind of has a leopard-print look going on.  Very fashionable and trendy of him!

There are too many horses to update them all in one blog, so I will get to a few others next week.  But in general, they all are handling the hot summer weather just fine.  The grass is green, carrots are plentiful, and for the horses, tours are entertaining.  We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!   -Val



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9 responses to “Sunday August 5, 2012

  1. Victoria

    Once again, Val, you take usright there, heat, smell of horse and grass, sun, pats, and the beautiful KY sky, filled with everchanging cloud formations. And the kids, oh the kids — those 4 legged carroters! Thanks for coming back.

  2. Vivien

    Yay, a Sunday with a Val blog is always a good one! Hugs, Viv

  3. Anne Castle

    You have been missed! Thank you for the update on the lucky boys at Old Friends. It was nice to hear about Rapid and Arson. Glad they are enjoying themselves and being a horse once again. Life is Good.

  4. colmel

    So good to have you back, Val! We’ve missed you! I’m thrilled to read that Rapid is such a happy camper. I have always been a proponent of Old Friends and I was over the moon to hear that they made the appropriate decision (IMHO) to send him to a wonderful retirement with y’all! I am so looking forward to my next visit so that I can see some of my old favorites and meet the new kids on the block!

  5. Suzanne Donaldson

    We are glad you are back. Sorry about Benburb. It is so hard to lose them and we miss them all.

  6. I purchased a copy of the DRF “Old Friends” magazine. I was curious as to how it was decided which horses to move into the Merefield Farm acres vs. the Dream Chase Farm acres.
    Also, how was it decided who would have a write up and photo page? There are some deceased horses included while a few of the living are NOT included. None of the horses, even those making over $1 million, in the Merefield location had their own page.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Nearly every decision on where horses are pastured at Old Friends probably comes down to space, personality, needs and whether they are a stallion, mare, or gelding. For example, the stallions are pastured at the main farm because that is where the stallion paddocks are located and stallions need to have their own space. In the larger pastures, horses are separated by mares and geldings. Also, some horses have had injuries or have personalities that necessitate a smaller paddock, either alone or with a congenial friend. As a result, horses are stabled where their needs can best be met, whether that is the main farm or the annex at Merefield. As far as the magazine, those decisions were made by Michael and the DRF staff. Obviously there was not space to include every well-known horse that lives at Old Friends. Who knows, maybe there will be another issue sometime down the road! We can hope! -Val

  7. victoria

    Following up on last comment — why is Wallenda at Merefield? And also, where is Hidden Lake? I noticed her name missing from the list on the booklet just issued that we can buy for $10. . These are two horses i would always visit on my many visits….

    • oldfriendsblog

      As regular blog readers know, I have written on the blog many times about Wallenda. He resides at Merefield because he has some special care needs. He has chronic leg problems, and wears special shoes to accommodate his ankle issues. He does best in a very calm routine environment without regular tour visitors where he can be outside in a small, flat paddock for limited amounts of time. Merefield provides that. As I said earlier, the horses reside where their different needs for space and care can best be met– because in the end, it is all about the horses! Hidden Lake resides at the main farm in a large paddock with the other mares at the back of the farm. If she is missing from the list I would say you found an uncorrcted typo. There is a ton of info packed into that booklet and I guess a few mistakes probably weren’t caught when it was edited. -Val

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