What a year 2016 has been for Old Friends! We continue to grow, and this year, thanks to our generous and far-sighted supporters, we have recovered and improved our barn facilities and met significant goals toward providing our increased roster with more paddock space. The care they’re getting has never been better. There’s no feeling more wonderful than walking a farm full of happy horses. Inevitably, some much-loved residents passed in 2016, who we’ll always miss. As life goes on, new residents make their own places in our hearts –Little Mike and big-personality Ide, to name just two.
In becoming home to Charismatic, Old Friends has achieved one of its original goals and we’re pleased to deepen our valued relationship with the organizations in Japan that provided such excellent care at stud to Charismatic (JBBA’s Shizunai Stallion Station), War Emblem (Shadai Stallion Station), and Silver Charm (JBBA’s Stallion Stations). We’re also honored that Old Friends’ retirees played host to a record-breaking 10,000+ visitors in 2016. Counted in numbers of carrots enjoyed, it’s been a great year.
Now, once again, it’s that time of the year when we tour guides try to remember to add a year to every horse’s age. Here are some landmarks.
Dinard, our oldest Thoroughbred, will be 29. Officially, at least. He was foaled April 6, 1988. Our next most senior, Swan’s Way, Silver Ray and Highland Ack, each turn 28. At Cabin Creek, Will’s Way has seniority at 24, and at Kentucky Downs, Thornfield will officially be 21. In Georgetown, so will Charismatic, of course. Silver Charm and Touch Gold will be 23, and War Emblem and Sarava are a youthful 18.
“Hrm!” I feel a hoof tap my back. Because it’s Little Silver Charm who really has seniority over all the horses at Old Friends. We just don’t know exactly how old he is. He’s not telling, but he does want his status duly recognized.
The ones whose ages I can hardly wrap my head around are the new twenties, Special Ring, Kudos and Judge’s Case.
Ringy, 20 years old? Seems impossible. Wasn’t that just yesterday he arrived all fiesty at Hurstland, a 9 year old kid with a big notion of himself—deservedly, since he’s a multiple G1 winner with earnings of nearly $1 million—and just yesterday that he adopted Popcorn Deelites with the attitude that he could push Pops around all he liked but he’d protect him with his last breath if it came to it? Ring and Pops have settled into an easy, kind companionship over the years.
Under Ring’s bossy, protective eye, Pops continues to flourish. He’s turning 19, himself. Derby winners competing for carrots make no difference to this star team. They’ve got their act down solid.
Time to confess, though. When Special Ring is off stage, he’s one of the most sensible horses on the farm. Of course, it’s obvious at all times that he’s smart. Who else on the farm gets a carrot just by lifting a lip?
Other decaders at the main farm are Game On Dude, Little Mike, Yankee Fourtune, Sarbonne and Fergus Mac Roich, all hitting the big 10.
All of us at Old Friends, horse and human, warmly wish everyone a 2017 of peace, kindness and love.
Photos by Laura Battles
All but Pops and Ring taken Christmas Day, 2016