Monthly Archives: February 2017

February 28, 2017

As you may know, Charismatic’s best son, Sun King, arrived at the farm last Saturday. Sun King’s retirement with us has been in the works for some months, and I wish his welcome hadn’t been so bittersweet. He deserves his own post and it’ll follow within a couple of days. Today, it being the last day of the month, I want to share some photos and a 14 second video of Charismatic taken by Julia Ray on her visit to the farm. Julia has kindly given me permission to share them here.

Play video. “Carrots, or else!”

For all of you who missed the chance to visit Charismatic, these are a good record of what visiting with him was like.

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I’d like to mention that Old Friends plans a special monument for Charismatic. His ashes will be laid to rest in the front cemetery at the Georgetown farm. Our social media will keep you posted about that.

Sometimes it’s difficult to accept what happens and find closure, and I don’t think that’s happened yet on the farm or for those of you who didn’t have the good fortune to spend time with him but loved him as much as if you had. I hope this “virtual tour” helps.

Beth
Charismatic vido and photos by Julia Ray

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February 22, 2017

Wherever you are, your presence and caring have been felt by all of us here at the farm. As the shock of losing Charismatic so unexpectedly went from feeling unreal to all too real, as the necropsy results came in and Old Friends vets Dr. Waldridge and Dr. Bell helped us all understand them better via Natalie Voss’s informative article in the Paulick Report, and as so many of you have sent your kind words and tokens of sympathy, your caring is strongly felt.

Ms. Voss’s article with Dr. Waldridge’s and Dr. Bell’s information, important for understanding what happened to Charismatic, can be found here.

For whatever comfort it may be, I too saw Charismatic’s remains Sunday morning. His position was peaceful and his bedding showed no sign of struggle or distress.

You may have seen this photo, the last one ever taken of him. There’s a little story that goes with it.

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On Saturday, Charismatic and the other residents played host to a good number of visitors. Over his two and a half months with us, he came to enjoy these visits. What started as wanting the carrots but wondering what all those people were there for, had relaxed into a routine he liked, for the attention and admiration as well as the carrots. Charismatic impressed us with his dignity, his intelligence, his professional attitude, and his kindness. We looked forward to the long, fascinating journey of forming ever-deepening bonds with him.

That night, after the farm closed, Laura and I golf carted up to the “back 40” for Laura to spend quality time with her favorite girl, Bint Marscay. It takes a lot of carrots to get to the back 40. The horses in back of the main tour route all come to the fence for their due. It’s amazing how many carrots disappear on the way, and the rest disappear quickly as Laura grooms and treats Binty and I noodle around with the others in the back. But we were careful to save some carrots for the two visits I wanted to make before leaving. Half of those carrots were for Charismatic and the other half for Afternoon Deelites.

We stopped by the barn first. Charismatic was, as always, enthusiastic about his carrot dessert. He made short work of all his carrots while Laura took a few more photos of him, though the light was going and she knew they’d be underexposed. Charismatic was so beautiful it was always impossible not to take a few more photos.

But photos were definitely not his concern. Charismatic let us know, in no uncertain terms, that only one thing mattered: I’d stepped away, but I still had carrots.

He could see them plainly. There they were. So why was I not giving them to him? I explained they were for Afternoon Deelites. That didn’t wash. I had carrots. Charismatic wanted them.

This is what’s happening in that photo. His very alert attention is on those carrots.

I sighed. Well, after all, Afternoon Deelites was outdoors in his paddock and wouldn’t know about it. I gave in. Charismatic got to eat every last one of those carrots. I’ll always be glad he did.

And I’ll always be a little comforted that my last words to him were “I love you.”

Though the voice he heard saying the words happened to be mine, I respect and honor that I spoke them to him for each and every one of you who loved him.

Beth
photo by Laura

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February 14, 2017

ANNOUNCING OLD FRIENDS’ SILKS CONTEST!

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A Contest? Whee! Rapid Redux (R) and Amazombie (L)

Here they come running! They can’t wait to try their hooves at drawing a design for Old Friends’ official silks!

If you win, what do you get? Fame! Glory! and a seriously beautiful Prize!

INFO HERE

or use the SILKS CONTEST menu tab at top of this page

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February 10, 2017

The saga of the mild winter continues.

What? I thought harsh winters were the stuff of sagas. But our weather this winter has been so easy it’s made little tribulations seem big. Like when not even one person came to the Georgetown farm for a tour last Saturday.

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Danthebluegrassman and Fighting City Hall wait for something to happen at Old Friends

Admittedly, January and February have always been our slowest months for visits, but with the weather so mild we’ve had an active winter this year. So, imagine. Saturday, and no entertainment for the horses. No adulation.

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“Do I not deserve adulation?” Fabulous Strike

And – what, no carrots?!?

Sarava gave up waiting for a tour and took a disgruntled nap. So did Genuine Reward. Rapid Redux put his nose to Amazombie’s, and did I hear the whispered words, “Let’s go on strike”?

Oh-oh. What’s to be done? How to make the day fun for the horses?

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Alphabet Soup: “Come on, entertain me.”

There was only one answer.

The Bucket!

Yes, I mean that plastic bucket full of chopped carrots the guide hauls out on the tours so everyone can hand-feed carrots to the horses. But I mean more than that.

It’s like the difference between when a friend takes a bonbon out of the candy box and gives it to you, and when they hand you the whole luscious box with an invitation to choose several of the pieces you want the most.

On tours, carrot pieces are forthcoming but The Bucket is the Plastic Grail. It is coveted, yearned for, but almost never in reach. Except for those rare and special times when a horse gets to stick his or her nose in and choose!

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Archie’s Echo loves his carrots shredded.

Not everybody on the farm gets the uncensored Bucket. Silver Ray, Geri and Archie’s Echo don’t have the teeth to chew carrots. We shred carrots for them. And Alphabet Soup, Swan’s Way, Dinard and some others of our older residents have trouble with the thicker, harder to chew carrot pieces. We try to select easier pieces for them to chew (Afternoon Deelites, this means you, too.)

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Afternoon Deelites. “Old age is a state of mind, not a state of mine.”

But for those of fewer years and better teeth, The Bucket is an incomparable event. Oh, the freedom of choice! This carrot must be sweeter than that one. Oh, what a fun Saturday! The Bucket is on the loose!

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Little Mike

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Popcorn Deelites

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Special Ring

As Laura and I headed toward Touch Gold, who should we meet but one Michael Blowen, on a Bucket walk from the opposite direction. Doubles!

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Touch Gold

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Kudos

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War Emblem

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Charismatic

So last Saturday turned out deliciously. Even so, it was a little short on entertainment for the horses. I think they look forward to their visitors. Our same old faces probably get boring after awhile. I hope they’ll be meeting some new friends and enjoying reunions with old friends tomorrow, and on into the week, and picking up pace as spring approaches and retirement at Old Friends just gets more and more delicious.

Beth

photos by Laura

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February 2, 2017

I feel moved to mention a sadness that lingers over Old Friends. Though Bill Mooney’s presence at the farm was as often in spirit as in person, especially during the last few years as he battled illness, Bill’s wisdom and love for the Thoroughbred have been a beacon throughout Old Friends’ existence.

Bill’s Eclipse Award winning account of Precisionist’s death at Old Friends in Georgetown has become iconic, but he chronicled many of our residents long before there was an Old Friends. His words contributed to our—racing fans’—perceptions of them on the track and as through their progeny. As Michael nurtured Old Friends from a few paddocks with a few horses into its present thriving three farms and two satellites providing homes to more than 150, Bill Mooney was a steadfast supporter, an active publicist on Old Friends’ behalf, and a champion on behalf of all Thoroughbreds.

Bill was also our eulogist. He, who had chronicled their careers and the eras of racing that their achievements blazoned, gave them, and we who mourned their passing, a final gift of words in his respectful and loving tributes each Memorial Day. I especially remember Bill’s eulogy at the first Memorial Day gathering, when his words closed the circle between our horses who had passed that year and the human veterans honored on that day by reminding us of the equine veterans of wars they did not cause but in which they served and died, and the wartime contributions of, and losses to, the breed of the Thoroughbred. I remember, too, his yearly naming their names, making each horse appear vividly again in all our minds.

But my favorite memory of Bill comes from a party at Michael and Diane’s, sitting on the sofa with a Kentucky Derby tee shirt spread between us. The kind with the names and silks of that year’s entries printed on the back. This shirt was for the 2007 Derby, by that time some years past. As Bill or I pointed to this name and that one, we traded observations on the horses, their sires, dams or damsires, their runs in the Derby and in other races. What I remember the most vividly is Bill’s kindness in listening to my takes on these horses about whom, and about whose connections, he knew so much more than I, just a fan on the sidelines, ever could. I felt pretty honored.

Bill’s wisdom and kindness will continue to live on in all we do at Old Friends.

Beth

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