Continuing the theme of some of the best friends at Old Friends, another pair known to many of our supporters and visitors are Arson Squad and I’m Charismatic, whose bond has endured and strengthened through some life-changing developments. The two bay geldings could hardly have been more different on the track, Arson Squad a well-known millionaire multiple graded stakes winner, I’m Charismatic, though a son of Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, a modest claimer who by the end of his career was struggling in the bottom-most ranks with an ankle issue that should have sidelined him long before a fan enabled his retirement. Arson Squad was as lucky as he was talented: his owner was Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable. He was going strong when a workout-related accident cut his career short. Thanks to Samantha, Arson received the treatment for a comfortable retirement and normal pasture life, and a place at Old Friends.
Both geldings having survived serious issues in the right front ankle, they were perfectly matched paddock mates. As younger horses do, they’d enjoy playing but neither would push the other beyond what he should do. And so it proved. They hit it off so well that when Arson Squad made a guest appearance one Saturday morning in the Keeneland paddock, I’m Charismatic trotted around and called for him until he returned that afternoon.
Tougher times were in store for I’m Charismatic, though. He succumbed to an incurable infection that gradually blinded him. Though repeatedly tested and treated by our expert resident vets, the late Dr. Doug Byars, and Dr. Bryan Waldridge, both among the leading equine vets worldwide, I’m Charismatic’s sight could not be saved. He’s otherwise a healthy, active horse. He’s also smart and a great adapter to everything life has brought to him. I’m Charismatic already knew his paddock and paddock mate well. If we can help it we’ll never change his environment or his companion.
Since then, Arson Squad has retrained himself for a new career. In many ways he has taken on the role of his buddy’s Seeing Eye horse. I’m Charismatic has learned new things, too. He was already an expert meeter and greeter on tours and still is. Formerly not much of a cuddler, he’s now learned to enjoy being rubbed and scratched, a new way to communicate with the people he can no longer see. More than that, when he was sighted the leader in that paddock was I’m Charismatic. In herds, even herds of two, horses always have a pecking order. Nowadays, the leader in that paddock is…you guessed it…I’m Charismatic. He may not walk in front, but horse leaders usually don’t anyway. He still tells Arson what to do. Arson, being the peaceful soul that he is, gracefully plays his supporting role and remains a patient and kind friend to his best buddy.
Photos by Laura
I was going to post about several other pairs, but this has turned into a long account, so coming soon will be Victor Cooley & El Brujo, Rapid Redux & Amazombie, our newest twosome Futural and Yankee Fourtune, plus an interesting triangle with Maybesomaybenot living up to his name.