We’re having a spell of warmer weather, all the way up into the 50s today and the same is expected tomorrow, with this milder trend predicted to last for the week. The snow in these pictures is, for the time being, a thing of the past.
Instead of icy ground the horses are picking their way through mud. Obviously some of them don’t mind. (If only I had a photo of Johannesburg Smile today. Imagine a horse completely made out of mud wearing a blanket completely brown with mud, with that long forelock of his in mud-dreads—and with a complete, saucy obliviousness to our head-shakings and sighs.)
Even with the mud, this warmer spell lets the horses rest. It may surprise many to learn how comfortable horses are in cold weather if their weight is healthy and they’re allowed to grow the full, fuzzy winter coats nature intended. In fact, a horse’s body is adapted to deal with cold more easily than with heat. In the coldest weather a good, waterproof blanket is beneficial for some. Those who need one get one, and they all have shelter, but the mechanism powering a horse’s internal “heating system” is their metabolism. And what powers their metabolism in cold weather is hay.
Their grain feed is important too, of course. That’s what keeps their weight up so that their metabolism stays robust. But it’s the forage—in places like Kentucky where the grass dies in winter, HAY—the that’s a horse’s “internal heater’s” real fuel. So in winter the OF residents get plenty of hay.
And more hay.
In the smaller paddocks at the front of the farm the hay is delivered by being pitched over the fence by a human on a Kubota—their favorite kind of farm vehicle since it also brings their meals (their regular feed). In the big pastures, like the one we call “Area 51,” a monster brings the hay. The horses don’t mind. This monster has also become a favorite sight to the inhabitants of Area 51: Rail Trip, Cherono, Johannesbourbon, Photon, Z Dager, W. C. Jones, Lion Hunter… have I forgotten anybody in that pasture? I hope not.
Hay also provides opportunities for socializing. By day, Alphabet Soup and miniature donkey Gorgeous George share the paddock that for many years was Ogygian’s. But at night Alphabet Soup comes into the barn and sleeps in a stall. Ide, who’s spent the day in the barn and whose metabolism is younger and so still more efficient, gets his turn-out time from late afternoon until morning. George’s favorite company is Alphabet Soup, but he and Ide get along nicely too. Here they are sharing their hay.
Another thing all that good hay does is provide the energy to frisk and play, which also helps keep a horse warm.
Eating snow is also fun.
And of course, Special Ring and Popcorn have their own game. It doesn’t change with the seasons or the passing years. It’s their signature, patented, original, one-of-a-kind shtick. I guess you could say it’s having a long run because it’s such a hit.
If you’ve been to the Georgetown farm, no doubt you’ve seen the Pops and Ring show for yourself. Special Ring want us to know that though his buddy impersonated 1930s champion Seabiscuit in the movie of that name, he – Ringy – is not an impersonator. He is the real, honest to goodness, multiple G1 winner, Special Ring, and he proves it by showing his i.d., the official Jockey Club identification number tattooed on the inside of a race horse’s upper lip. Popcorn never shows his. He hopes that if he charms his visitors with his most appealing faces, they’ll believe he’s Seabiscuit. And if he’s not, then at least he must be a great actor to be such a talented comedian.
They wrote the script, they perform it with zest time after time, and better yet, they give this their performance their all. And for mere carrots.
… So what in the world was this sight that met Laura’s and my eyes a few days ago? This isn’t one photo, but these photos were taken within seconds of each other. Rapid and Amazombie really were doing this in unison exactly like…
photos by Laura