May 27, 2015

This year’s Memorial Day ceremony was a particularly wrenching one, as we lost some of the horses who bound us the most closely to Old Friends’ history, our “foundation stallions” Creator (1986-2015), Ogygian (1983-2015), and our long-time residents Kiri’s Clown (1989-2014) and Williamstown (1990-2015). And the much-loved Clever Allemont (1982-2014), Prized (1986-2014), Ava Lotta Hope (1987-2014), and those who died all too young, A. P. Slew (1999-2014), Bluesthestandard (1997-2014), Max a Million (2000-2014), and Escapedfromnewyork (2005-2015).

Though the forecast threatened rain, the grey clouds passed over without letting loose on the good-sized gathering who came to bid our much-missed friends goodbye.

Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Diane White.

Memorial Day 2015. Photo by Diane White.

Bill Mooney, Old Friends’ official eulogist, delivered his knowledgeable and caring tribute to all of the horses who passed in the last year, collectively and one by one.

Bill Mooney gives his tribute. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Bill Mooney gives his tribute. Photo by Barbara Fossum.

Then, following what has by now become an Old Friends tradition, each horse’s life was honored in words by those who had helped care for them, or knew them well, or remembered them with special admiration. Volunteer John Bradley, a particular friend of Ava Lotta Hope in her last months, paid a tribute to Assistant Barn Manager Carole Oates’ loving care of Hope by presenting her with a halter he’d ordered that the mare never had the chance to wear. When Michael had spoken about the speedy and dignified Williamstown and asked if anyone had any words they wanted to add,  none other than Peter Wilmott, Williamstown’s racing owner, stood from where he’d been sitting quietly in the gathering, and reminisced about the brilliant son of Seattle Slew.

Peter Wilmott shares remembrances about Williamstown. Photo by Barbara.

Peter Wilmott shares remembrances about Williamstown. Photo by Barbara.

Volunteer Bea Snyder read a celebration of Creator’s greatness written by his pal Vivien Morrison, who was unable to attend due to a broken leg (and who was missed!). Several people had memories to share of Ogygian’s magnificence.

I won’t say it was an easy day. But being among friends who understood the losses and feeling their support made it endurable. My only regret was that facilitating a request to see a living horse from a past connection of his prevented me from telling Mr. Wilmott what a good friend Williamstown was to me in so many ways over the years, and how much I miss him. Though he was a self-sufficient horse and a tough one, he had his kind side and knew how to make and keep a bond.

Williamstowns marker DW

Marker photos by Diane.

Blues marker DW Clevers marker DW Creators marker DW Ogygians marker DW

For me, the pain of losing Ogygian, and A. P. Slew who I’d always thought would be there to help me through losing Ogygian, is still too deep to express. My gratitude to Michael for his worthy tribute to Ogygian when I couldn’t have gotten through giving him one he deserved, and Old Friends’ warm thanks go out to each and every one of you who have sent us comfort in so many ways for these losses. When sometimes we feel they are too deep to go on, it’s your caring that picks us up and puts us back on our feet–your kindness, and the kindness of the horses who grazed around us as we remembered those who’d passed, the living horses enjoying their retirement, all of them continually, every day, inspiring.

Beth

Kiri's Clown. Photo by Beth.

Kiri’s Clown. Photo by Beth.

1 Creator LB

Creator. Photo by Laura Battles.

1 Prized 2 LB

Prized. Photo by Laura.

1 APS 2 LB

A. P. Slew. Photo by Laura.

1 Ava Lotta Hope LB

Ava Lotta Hope. Photo by Laura.

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

Williamstown. Photo by Laura.

1 Blue BTS

Bluesthestandard. Photo by Beth.

Ogygian. Photo by Laura.

Ogygian. Photo by Laura.

1 Clever Allemont - Laura B

Clever Allemont. Photo by Laura.

Max a Million. Photo by Laura.

Max a Million. Photo by Laura.

1 Escapedfromnewyork 2 LB

Escapedfromnewyork. Photo by Laura.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “May 27, 2015

  1. colmel

    Now the tears are rolling down my face again for all those wonderful souls lost over the last year. It’s hard – almost impossible – to express how much these wonderful beings have meant to us over the years. I feel so badly for poor Viv for not being able to be at the memorial. I know her heart is missing Creator even though he’ll always be alive and beautiful in her memory and the collective memories of all who had the great pleasure to meet him. I, personally, feel the loss of fellow, former Georgian, Bluesthestandard. Again, though, it’s so comforting to know that they spent their last years in the loving care of Old Friends.

  2. Sandy

    The deep love and respect that all of you have (and show) for these spectacular horses touches my heart more than I can really express. God Bless you all for what you do.

  3. Susan

    Hi Beth, Here I am again wishing I didn’t live so far away…would have loved to have been there. It was a tough year for sure for Old Friends. I’m so very thankful that I had met most of the ones lost and I will never forget them…ever. Their pictures hang on my specially designated “Old Friends” bulletin board beside my desk so that I can think back to past visits with them often.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for this lovingly detailed post, Beth. I’m so glad Bea stood in for me, Bless her heart, but I’m terribly sad I couldn’t be there. Thank you for mentioning my bond with Creator. I know you understand all too well what a once in a lifetime friendship we had. May our boys be running together, all their colors flying, until we meet again.

  5. This was the first time we have missed a Memorial at Old Friends and I am truly sorry we were not there to say goodbye to all of these wonderful athletes and friends. In my heart I have to believe that they go on but we will see them all again

  6. We’ve been family to an OTTB (since 2007) whose sire Leave Seattle passed away at Old Friends in 2012, within a few weeks of my kids losing their dad also. We are the family who used to send a gift for Leave Seattle to buy & share treats for himself & all the others with! I guess I am reminiscing now that it’s near Father’s Day. ❤ 🙂

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