Tuesday October 9, 2012

I’m mixing things up this week with a Tuesday blog. (And no, this does not mean bad news from the farm!)   I spent a couple different days at the farm this past week that weren’t Sunday, so I’m playing catch up.  I wrangled about 40 elementary kids for a tour on Thursday, and spent a good part of yesterday visiting some of my favorite horses all by myself.   Both days were immensely satisfying.

I am sure you have heard the saying, “it’s like herding cats.”  That saying should be amended to, “it’s like herding small children!”  The kids were kindergarten through sixth graders, from one of the elementary schools in Frankfort.  I will say this:  these were some terrific kids.  I told them no screaming or running, they didn’t scream or run.  I told them to take turns, they took turns.  In fact, I have had many groups of adults who were worse listeners than these kids. 

Watching the horses watch 40 kids is hilarious in itself.  We started with Sarava, who was in his stall in the big barn.  Now, Sarava is still settling in, but at this point he seems like a genuinely nice stallion.  I opened his stall door and put the lead on him so the kids could meet him.  He was deeply intrigued–for about 5 carrots.  Then he backed up, turned around and let us know he was done.  On the other hand, Afternoon Deelites would have stood all day, although he passed on the patting, thank you very much. No touching His Highness, I guess.  Clever always loves kids and Ogygian trotted over from his shed, because kids are probably his favorite visitors. I brought Silver Charm out of his paddock and he was more than happy to be surrounded by kids.  For some reason, Dan has always loved to squinch his nose in little kids’ hair, which always gets the giggles going.  Special Ring’s lip trick was a huge hit, too–over and over and over!

But then there was Marquetry.  I’m telling you, if I didn’t love him before…let’s just say he is some kind of horse.  As soon as our herd of cat, I mean kids, turned his way, he threw up his head and came at a dead run from the far side of his paddock, neighing the entire way.  Marq then hung his head over the fence, closed his eyes and let 40 pairs of little hands reach over, under and through the fence to pat him, pretty much all at the same time.  If you ever have doubts about how much an animal understands, you would only have had to see Marq with those kids to know that horses are so much smarter than we are.  In a world where kindness often seems to be in short supply, Marq has plenty to share. 

Yesterday was a non-work day for me, so Marley and I decided to visit some of our newer horses, as well as some of the residents over at Merefield, our annex farm.  (Well, Marley mostly wanted to see her dog pals Shane, John Wayne, Betty and Reggie. And she wanted to see her Aunt Bea!)  I wanted to spend some time brushing Wallenda, which I did.   Sleek summer coats are gone—the horses look to be about halfway to their thick winter coats.  Wallenda looks like sheared black velvet, if you overlook the dirt, that is! But the sun-bleached look is gone, and it’s especially noticeable on the dark horses like Wallenda or Kiri’s Clown.  In one of the paddocks at the annex, I watched bright red Early Pioneer, black Fabulous Strike and white Judge’s Case running across the bright green field.  It was beautiful, albeit too quick for me to think to grab my phone and take video.

Klassy Briefcase and Dancing Renee are quite happily ensconced on their paddock at the annex. They look like they have been friends forever.  The other great change at the annex is Gasconade has graduated from a solo paddock to being paired up with Dinard.  Gasconade came to us as a young stallion off the track with an injured ankle; after healing time and gelding, he is able to have a friend.  Since Dinard is older and very calm, they make a good match.  Not that Gasconade doesn’t try to instigate his new friend—it made me laugh watching him try his darnest to get Dinard going, without success.   

One of my other favorite horses at the annex is a gelding named WC Jones.  Jonesy is a big, tall bay horse and he is kind of quirky.  OK, by quirky, I really mean hard to catch!  But once he gives up and realizes you aren’t trying to take him away from his grazing time, he loves attention.  In fact, he is a cuddler—all 17 hands and 1300 pounds of him.  He loves to be hugged and he’ll lay his head over my shoulder and nuzzle my face.  Just don’t ever say the word “work” to him.  He followed me around his paddock yesterday just begging for more love.  He is impossible to resist.

I finished up my day by visiting with Lou Brissie and my cutie pal Arson Squad. You know, Lou was a sleek, fit racehorse what, maybe 2 months ago?  Uh-huh.  Now he looks like a wide-bodied little quarter horse.  In fact, a visitor saw him yesterday and said, “are you sure he isn’t a quarter horse?”  Hey, Lou just makes efficient use of his caloric intake!  Retirement is surely agreeing with him.

And Arson Squad is doing fantastic.  He outside time is increasing and he looks great.  I don’t believe his ankle, with its pins and screws, hurts or bothers him much at all.  That is just a miracle, isn’t it?  I think it’s the contrast between how mentally and physically tough he is, and that intelligent cute face that gets me.  Sadly, it’s just not practical to move him into my house.  Sigh.

I myself am doing Sunday tours on a less frequent basis–taking more time at home and doing other things–so my blog entries will reflect that change, with posts on different days and times.  I hope you all will continue to read, and comment, on events at the farm.  If you haven’t ever visited Old Friends, we hope you will do so if you find yourself in the area.  Tours are scheduled all year round, with fall and winter offering a different, but no less interesting view of life on the farm.  We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Tuesday with Old Friends!    -Val



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9 responses to “Tuesday October 9, 2012

  1. tbdancer

    Happy to read your blog any time you write, Val. I love reading about Old Friends. Nice to hear of the different personalities and how these old guys (and gals) respond to visitors of all ages. I’m not sure who enjoys it more–the horses or the people–but it’s a fine relationship either way.

  2. Tupster

    I’m also happy to read your blog anytime Val, as well. I so much enjoy, hearing about all the horses there! I wish I could someday visit Old Friends, but that will never come to pass since I live with Such Total Full Body Severe, Severe, Chronic Pain. But, with the wonderful way you write about them Val, it feels like I’am right there as well, Thank You!!!!! P.S. Give Them All Loads Of Loves From Me, Okay.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Gillian! Glad to hear from you. I remember you (and Tuppy) from the horses, racing & etc forum years ago! I will give a days worth of hugs from you next time I am at the farm. -Val

      • Tupster

        Hi Val, I remember you so well too from our old board, which is why when I saw that you were writing the Old Friends Blog, I signed right up!!! I’ve just sent you an e-mail, on your hotmail acct, which I do hope you still have?
        Take Care, Sending Tons of Gentle Hugs & Much Love,
        Gillian & Tuppy ‘In Spirit’ xox
        P.S. Thanks So Much, For When You Are Next At The Farm To Giving A Day’s Worth Of Hugs From Me, To All The Beautiful Horses, Much Appreciated!!!!!

  3. Dawn Deems

    Hi Val! Your vivid descriptions of all the horses make this blog so much fun to read. I have a special place in my heart for Wallenda, having seen him race in person at Keeneland years ago. Next time you visit him, give him a hug from his Auntie Dawn. I know he’s not part of the tours… I’d love to meet him someday. Thanks for all you do. We hope to visit again in the spring!

  4. Teri H

    Great blog, as always. Marq always reminds me of Wicked. Beautiful specimens of a horse. But the outer beauty is always outweighed by the inner ability to make every single soul feel as though they are special.
    “Pretty is as pretty does.” That’s an old time saying. But Marq makes
    everyone feel pretty in their own way. What a gift. Every single time that I give a tour I hope that Marq or any of the other beauties at Old Friends somehow makes someone feel special.
    Teri H

  5. Lois Brooks

    Val, love reading your blogs. One thing I would like to know is that you have an annex and your touring place. Do you switch the horses around so that all get a turn at the farm or is the annex for those that will not socialize as well for tours. Just a question that you might answer at some time. Thanks.

    • oldfriendsblog

      Hi Lois.
      To answer your question, the annex horses live there for several different reasons. We use the annex for the off-track geldings that are being ridden in preparation for new careers. If they are sound and have the interest, they can become show horses or just plain riding horses. In Wallenda’s case, as well as a couple others, his physical issues are managed best in the quiet, controlled, tour-free environment at the annex. Lastly, we have very large fields at that farm, and some of the geldings either really like that level of freedom, or maybe just don’t care to socialize as much. -Val

  6. Fern Blair

    Hi Val,

    Just keep your blog coming no matter what day it is – I love your comments and your obvious love for all the horses.
    Thank you for all you do.
    Fern B

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