How are they settling in? A little update on new resident Johannesburg Smile and old favorite Archie’s Echo.
Johannesburg Smile, who arrived at the farm in August, completed the standard quarantine for new arrivals with flying colors. Until last week he had morning turn-out in the paddock connected to his stall and in the barn he learned how to meet and greet the afternoon tours–which is to say, he quickly learned how to work the crowds for the maximum carrots. From the beginning he had all the best qualities of a host in the making. He’s beautiful, he’s curious, he’s very nice, and he adores attention.
This week things got even better. Johannesburg Smile has graduated to turn-out all day long. He loves the freedom and running room of his new lifestyle. And I have to admit I’m thrilled too. After his many years on the track, the paddock where he’s learning to be a happy retiree is the paddock that belonged to his great-grandpa, Ogygian. (Johannesburg Smile’s sire, international juvenile champion Johannesburg, is the son of Myth, a daughter of Ogygian.)
Here are the best of the snapshots I took of him this afternoon. Outdoors he’s an even better host than he was in the barn. His expression says it all. He’s easing beautifully into the laid-back life that all his hard work has more than earned.
It’s the perfect place to learn retirement. At night he goes into the barn and Alphabet Soup, who greets visitors in the barn by day, gets to enjoy that paddock during his 12 hours of turn-out each evening and night.
For Johannesburg Smile, these digs are temporary. When the weather gets cool he’ll be gelded and will probably continue his current lifestyle, where he can have plenty of attention and extra T. L. C. until he settles into gelding-hood and can begin his life as part of a herd, a lifestyle that comes naturally since it’s how horses live in the wild, and it’s how race horses remember their early, playful years, first in their mom’s mare and foal herd, then as yearlings in their own herds. When a young male horse doesn’t have a prospect of a breeding career, gelding him makes the safest and kindest future for him.
Archie’s Echo had been splitting his own time between the barn by night and that paddock by day. He’s one of our oldest horses at 28, but he’s doing so well that he, too, has graduated to a lifestyle of more freedom and more company. Archie has moved in with Early Pioneer and Dinard who at 29 is the Georgetown farm’s oldest Thorougbred resident.
Early Pioneer and Dinard have been close companions for a good while, so it’s wonderful how peacefully and kindly they’ve accepted Archie. The new threesome all seem contented with their new property, the paddock that was Tinners Way’s. This paddock is next to the tree line at the back, with plenty of shade in the afternoon. When winter comes, the trees make a good windbreak. The only disadvantage is from the perspective of visitors since this paddock isn’t on the regular tour routes. It’s too far up at the back for that.
So if you’ve fallen in love with Archie on a visit–and if you’ve met Archie you probably have fallen in love with him–I just wanted you to know he’s doing great, he still enjoys plenty of attention from all of us on the farm (and plenty of carrot shreds). He’s pleased as punch to have paddock mates. Though not on regular tours, Archie, “Earl” and Dinard can be visited by appointment, as long as any staff is available to take you up to the back. We’ll do our best.
Speaking of visits, the weather is gorgeous in Kentucky right now, mostly sunny and cool for September. The big tour crowds of summer vacation time have eased into smaller groups with more chance for one-on-one moments with the horses. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited with us, this is an absolutely ideal time.