July 21, 2013

It was a very hot and busy weekend at the farm.  Did I mention it was HOT?  BUSY????  This weekend was the annual Breyerfest convention over at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Folks come from all over the country to share their love of model horses.  A large number of them make it over to the farm to visit some real horses, including our own Breyer model, Bull Inthe Heather!

We had “all hands on deck” this weekend. We had a booth set up over at Breyerfest to tell people about Old Friends.  They sent a lot of people over to the farm to visit.  Most all of the tours were big enough to split into two good-sized groups.  Each tour went in opposite directions, but that means that our “official greeter and treat hound,” Afternoon Deelites,  really had to work hard.  He was out in the center of his paddock watching both groups heading in his direction.  Luckily, Gulch was also in a mood to greet every tour for treats, so Afternoon Deelites didn’t have to work as hard.  He was racing back and forth all day long making sure he got more than his share of carrots from each tour.  Even while working one group, you could tell he had an eye on the group across the way.  I have a feeling he burned off a lot of his carrots just racing around to make sure he got them all!

Several eagle-eyed Breyerfest girls noticed the grave for our Black Tie Affair and kept asking about him.  After a little research on one of the dad’s phones, it turns out that Breyer created a model called TS Black Tie Affair a few years ago for an Arabian pinto that had the same name as our Blackie.

In the office, Desi the cat was really enjoying being the center of attention.  He had no problem with plopping down in the center of the crowd and getting petted.  It’s hard to believe that he used to run for the basement at the first sign of any people.  At one point between the 1:00 and 3:00 tours on Saturday, the office was empty and Desi was sitting in the middle of the floor just glaring at the door.  I think he was trying to will people to come in the office to pet HIM.  After all, that’s why people come to Old Friends, right?

By the time the 3:00 tour rolled around on Sunday, everyone was pretty much exhausted. On the last tour was a couple, Jimmy and Suzie, who knew a whole lot about  racing.  Jimmy got his photo taken with The Name’s Jimmy.  As the tour progressed, he was remembering the trainers of a lot of the east coast horses as we visited them–Sunshine Forever, Kiri’s Clown…  It turns out he’s spent most of his life on the racetrack galloping horses.  As the tour was winding down and the kids were racing Little Silver Charm around his paddock, we got to talking about favorite horses.  Since Forego was the horse that dragged me into racing as a child, I mentioned him.  It turns out Jimmy galloped him the last two years he was racing!  So — I got Forego stories from someone who knew the young Forego on the track.  I only got to know him during his later years when he had, um, mellowed a bit.

After the tour was over, we were still talking the old days of racing along with Viv, who had stopped by after spending all weekend over at Breyerfest with Bea.  Jimmy couldn’t believe we had Commentator and Tinner’s Way, so the next thing you know, we were off on an early evening adventure to the back of the farm.  Tator was being his usual Tator self and paced up the hill alongside the golf cart.

Tinner was right at the fence watching us and was very happy to have some company.  It turns out Suzie does massage on horses and she started right in on Tinner, who just sighed and let her work on him.  Meanwhile, Jimmy was petting him and handing over carrots.  All of a sudden, Tinner lifted his head and just wandered out into his paddock.  He had a drink and started grazing.  Not sure why.  So, we headed over to Tator who was watching us quite closely.  Carrots for Tator while he accepted a bit of massage, too.  We were just about done with the Tator, when we heard a huffing and puffing from Tinner’s paddock and he was right back over at the fence, placing himself in position for more massage.  Suzie went back over to Tinner and he just melted under her hands working on him.  He dropped his head and just sighed.  He didn’t walk away this time.

As we headed back down the hill, Swannie suddenly decided to quit ignoring us and raced over to the fence for some carrots.  Then Tator charged over, as well, since he really hadn’t gotten his fair share of carrots–at least, according to Tator, he hadn’t.

We made one more brief stop to see Ogygian, who was also remembered.  Luckily, we still had a few carrots for O and he even got a little mini-massage.

Finally, Breyerfest weekend at Old Friends was drawing to a close. I think a good time was had by all.


The great Forego (1970-1997) at the Ky Horse Park, by Laura Battles


Wallenda racing at Oaklawn Park, by Laura Battles

Gold Spring Oaklawn - Laura

Gold Spring (1988-2009) at Oaklawn, by Laura Battles

Tinner track - Laura

Tinners Way in his racing days, by Laura Battles



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4 responses to “July 21, 2013

  1. Love the recounting of the visits–and the visitors. Loved the old pictures, too, seeing these fine pensioners in their glory days. Keep up the good work!

  2. Vivien

    Thanks for your blog entry and photos, Laura! I hope we can all talk horses and racing again! Thanks for all you do! Viv

  3. Alexandra

    Thank you, Laura! Once again, your gift for telling a tale leaves me feeling as if I spent the weekend with you (minus the weariness, for which you deserve a massage yourself – can horses learn to return the favor? :).

    Someday soon, my family and I will make it to Old Friends in KY. For now, we feel very fortunate to live 45 minutes away from Old Friends in NY.

  4. Jen

    Nice to meet another Forego fan!! He was my absolute favorite, I never missed any of his important races as they were televised on network TV at that time. I have the best memories of seeing my “hero” many times at the Horse Park. He was some horse, wasn’t he? I would love to hear the stories you were told by his exercise rider sometime!

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