Touch Gold surveys his springtime domain
Spring is definitely here. The redbuds are in bloom, the dogwoods are coming into their glory, and the leaves are beginning to grow on the shade trees. In other years the Keeneland meet would be in full swing, Lexington would be playing host to visitors, and we’d be welcoming our friends, old and new, travelers and local folks, to enjoy sunny spring Saturdays like today with the horses.
Tour guides would proudly introduce Pollard’s Vision, Patch and Stormy Liberal, reunite Silver Charm and Little Silver Charm with their fans, and young horse lovers would feed treats to retired Breeders’ Cup winners and ex-claimers. Tour buses would pull in and Michael and other guides would golf cart private tours up the hill to see the mares. And, in other Aprils, we’d earn a substantial portion of the yearly cost of the horses’ care.
Last April 1,827 people toured Old Friends, plus about 500 more who arrived on large tour buses. This April the total will be 0.
Lion Hunter, Photon (above), Cherono, Saint Aloysius and Johanesbourbon. Photo by Laura.
Through social media we’ll continue doing our best to keep you connected with the horses and raise the funds to support them. To that end, Old Friends has launched a GivingTuesday Charity GoFundme. This campaign was set up to help non-profits – like Old Friends – impacted by the pandemic.
Click here to donate.
At Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, one of our key sources of income is our agri-tourism program. Our farm gates are open daily to visitors who come from all over the world to get up-close-and-personal with our rescued and retired Thoroughbred champions. They come daily for tours that see them taking a selfie with Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, smooching three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude on the nose, and feeding some carrots to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. Our tourism can raise as much as $10 – $15,000 a month in the summer season that all goes to feeding and caring for these amazing animals. And while the champs attract guests, the revenue they raise helps support the numerous horses we have that never set a hoof inside a winner’s circle or those that ended up in less-than-savory situations.
But in March, as the Pandemic took hold of our nation, our daily tours and gift-shop sales came to a screeching halt, seriously endangering the well-being of our herd . We’re doing everything we can to weather this terrible storm. Can you help by making a donation today?
Charity GoFundme Old Friends No-Tours-No-Dollars-Fundraiser
And now, time for this post to morph into a gossip column. On a farm full of horses the herd politics and gossip sessions never slow down for any reason.
Skip’s World wasn’t a champion like his grandpa, Skip Away, but he did win a race once. He’s not in this week’s gossip, but he posed nicely last Thursday evening, having demolished one carrot and ready to scarf up another one. That’s Mikethespike in the background.
This week’s two hot items concern the biggest mare herd, and one of the gelding gangs, both on the back 40 acres.
Lady Grizzley didn’t do much racing and wasn’t a successful mom. Her retirement was enabled by former owner Brereton C. Jones.
Miss ZoeyBelle. Fifteen now, she used to race on the Ohio circuit. Photo by Laura.
News Flash: Lady Grizzley firms up her position as President of the Main Mare Herd. MissZoey Belle, formerly just one of several pretty faces in the crowd, steps up as Vice President. Who elected them? They did. Mares lead busy social lives, and to my mind, more complex ones than do geldings (stallions, of course, pretty much just rule their own turf, keeping up friendships, or not, over their fences).
An alpha mare has responsibilities for her companions, like keeping an eye on her neighborhood and making sure the geldings next door don’t get too fresh, as well as perks, such as getting her first choice of feed tubs at meal times and keeping her companions in line according to her own sense of propriety. Lady Grizzley has whole-heartedly taken on those responsibilities. The other mares, including Miss Hooligan, who considered the job, seem happy to let her do so. MissZoey Belle stepping out as her sidekick was a little surprising, but she’s playing her role well.
Maybesomaybenot Bobby Sands and Areyoutalkintome, taken back in colder weather by Laura. Trivia for the day: Bobby is a son of Gulch. Areyoutalkintome is Gulch’s great-grandson.
A little more startlingly, Maybesomaybenot has recently abdicated his former position as boss of his herd to his best buddy, Bobby Sands. Why this happened, I’m not sure. Maybe, an outgoing guy and real charmer of horses and humans alike, has been telling Bobby what to do up till now. It may have to do with the changes herd personnel over the last few months. First they lost their good friend Shadow Caster, who died last December. Then Areyoutalkintome took time out of the herd to get medication he needed. That done, he rejoined the gang last month.
One interesting feature of horse society is that each time a member leaves or joins the herd, the entire pecking order gets re-established, and individual relationships within the herd can change. Areyoutalkintome seems to have come back into the herd with more status than when he left it, and for whatever reason, Bobby decided to use the occasion to become boss. Maybe is handling it peacefully, but I’m not sure what he really thinks of this development. Stay tuned for further developments.