Category Archives: Uncategorized

January 3, 2019

190103 silver ray may 17

Silver Ray, May 23, 1989 – January 1, 2019

We will miss Silver Ray. No question about that. We’ll miss the peaceful sight of him grazing in his paddock. We’ll miss how excited he used to get about meal times, trotting over snorting, sometimes even bucking. We’ll especially miss his sweetness, how he’d amble over for companionship as much as a treat, how he’d let children pet him, his calm, wise face, and how he’d sometimes lay his head on visitors’ shoulders, especially young women visitors. Ray was a bit of a ladies’ man.

For us, it’s hard that our good times with him have ended. But that’s our perspective. For Silver Ray, Old Friends was a long, happy ending. True to his name, he came through some dark times to a comfortable, dignified life. He let us know how much he enjoyed the security he’d found.

Foaled May 23, 1989 in Kentucky, Silver Ray was fortunate to race for Jerry and Ann Moss. His trainers were Brian Mayberry, then John Sadler, he was ridden by some of the best jockeys of his era, and he was a very good race horse. He won a graded stakes race, the 1991 Hoist the Flag Stakes (G3) at Hollywood Park and placed in other stakes.

At six he entered stud, but while a Grade 3 winner is an exceptional racehorse, success at stud is a challenge even for Grade 1 winners. Not a lot of clients bred mares to him. He sired 47 registered foals, of whom less than half raced and only half of those won. Inevitably, he’d need another niche if he was to earn. That niche was found when he proved a good sire of sport horses.

190103 silver ray oct 18

At what point did Ray’s journey darken? I don’t know, and I don’t know the circumstances of his arrival at a slaughter auction, but clearly he’d had hard times before that, since he arrived at the auction very thin and with his upper front teeth gone. But his luck brightened. Before he got off the truck he was purchased by April Smith, and the Polo Pony Rescue in Glendale, California gave him care that put him back on the road to health. Media coverage alerted the Mosses to his situation and they—generous supporters of Old Friends—contacted Michael about giving him a home.

Silver Ray came to us still thin, still recovering, in early fall 2013. At first he lived on a farm owned by our then-resident vet, the late Dr. Doug Byars, with a few other of our retirees. In Ray’s case, we were happy he was under the eye of a world-renowned vet and diagnostician. Gradually, Ray regained weight. When he moved to OF’s main farm he was getting rather round in the tummy, and who can blame him? He regained strength and spirit but never lost the exceptional kindness that characterized him from the first.

190103 silver ray dec 7 18

In fact, giving Ray a neck scratch or watching him lower his head so a child could pat his face, I never ceased to be amazed at how much trust and love this horse showed people even though he had experienced the worst side of human nature. Silver Ray treated people not according to some of the treatment he’d received but according to the honor and beauty within himself.

So yes, we’ll always love and miss Silver Ray. But his story ended happily. He achieved on the track, survived hardship, attained the official age of 30, and lived for secure and peaceful years as a favorite on the farm, receiving and giving much love.

190103 silver ray dec 22 18

Tour guide Ken Hawes said of Silver Ray’s last tour on the day before he let us know his time had come, “he did eat shredded carrots on our tour yesterday and also received much petting from the children on the tour. He was a sweety and a gentleman to the end.”

Beth
photos by Laura

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

December 31, 2018

As an eventful year ends at Old Friends and a new year begins, winter deepens but so far we haven’t had much cold weather. Rainy days alternate with mostly overcast days, pleasant except for the mud. On rainy days the horses tend to snooze in their run-in sheds. On drier days…well, isn’t snoozing one of the privileges of retirement?

181231 Sun King

Sun King readies himself for a snooze.

With things so much quieter in the winter, even our younger retirees take long, peaceful naps in the relatively mild weather. Sun King, for instance, officially turns 17 as of January 1. For a Thoroughbred, that’s middle age, say, early 50s for a human.

Game On Dude and Little Mike, are the same age and were at the top of racing at the same time. They never contended with each other since the Dude ran on the dirt and Mike on the turf. Now they race each other every day. They’re turning 12 years old apiece. That’s a perfect age, not young enough for foal naps or old enough for old-folk naps, so they take cause-I-wanna naps.

 

181231 Dude Mike 1

Little Mike, foreground, and Game On Dude. Who’s gonna conk out first?

181231 Dude Mike 2

It’s Mike!

181231 Dude Mike 2a

Little Mike shakes off his dreams. Game On Dude gets sleepier.

181231 Dude Mike 3

Come on, pal. Up and at ’em. I feel like playing!

Meanwhile, up at the barn, the residents are …

181231 River Squall

River Squall (turning 24)

…well, looks like they’re snoozing.

181231 Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger (19 years old)

Except, of course, for those who are dedicatedly zonked out for the afternoon.

181231 Soup and GG do

Alphabet Soup (28) and Gorgeous George (still 9? he’s not a Thoroughbred.)

181231 WE never sleeps

War Emblem (turning 20 – hard to believe, isn’t it?)

And except for War Emblem, who wants us to believe he never sleeps. I promised him not to tell you any differently.

181231 BCI Dinard

Beau Cashin In (21, L) and Dinard (31)

And except for those who’d rather stay up, munch hay and share the latest gossip. Or is Beau Cashin In giving Dinard a piece of his mind? At 31, Dinard is currently our oldest Thoroughbred resident at the Georgetown farm. The oldest horse of all is, almost certainly, Little Silver Charm, but he’s never been into telling his age.

181231 Fergus DTP

Fergus MacRoich (12, L) and Disturbingthepeace (21)

Whatever your age in either equine or human reckoning, wherever you are, we at Old Friends warmly wish you the happiest, healthiest, best of new years. May we all use 2019 to strengthen our connections with those we love and to appreciate and honor the diverse and wonderful world around us.

Beth
photography by Laura

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

December 4, 2018

Pretty Faces

20181204 Star Plus

Star Plus. Always a Star

Over the past few weeks Laura has shot portraits of some dazzlingly pretty faces. They’re not summer-sleek, or well-groomed. They’re winter woolly bears and they’re been playing in the mud. But these are some of the prettiest faces I know.

20181204 Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup

They say horses can’t smile, but since miniture donkey Gorgeous George has come into his life, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup often wears this expression. Perhaps “they” would care to rethink?

20181204 Popcorn Deelites

“I am a hero of the silver screen.” Popcorn Deelites.

20181204 Special Ring

Special Ring. “Yeah, well?”

20181204 Arson Squad

Arson Squad. Glam amid the mud. Always.

20181204 LSC

“Let me show you big guys the meaning of glam.” Little Silver Charm, of course.

But I’d especially like to share with you some pretty faces that aren’t as often seen by the public, since they don’t live on the regular tour route.

20181204 Windy Land

Windy Land. Mixed Pleasure’s only son.

20181204 Victor Cooley

Canadian champion Victor Cooley.

20181204 Timony James

Timothy James, grandson of Sunday Silence.

20181204 Skips World El Brujo

Skip’s World (grandson of the great Skip Away) and El Brujo.

20181204 Shadow Caster Areyoutalkintome

Shadow Caster and Areyoutalkintome. “Posing? Us? What makes you say that?”

20181204 Riversrun Cajun Paduas

“We’re not posing. We come by it naturally.” Riversrunrylee, Padua’s Pride and Cajun Beat.

20181204 Miss ZoeyBelle

The beautiful Miss ZoeyBelle.

20181204 Jimbo Fallon

Jimbo Fallon does his best camel imitation (being really tall helps a lot).

20181204 Geronimo and Readys Rocket

Geronimo and Ready’s Rocket. “Who, us?”

20181204 Daytona

Daytona. Did I remember to say, especially pretty faces?

20181204 Bobby Sands

Bobby Sands, a son of Gulch.

20181204 Comma

Commatothetop. Some pictures speak for themselves. But does this one?

Meanwhile, back on the front of the farm…

20181204 War Emblem and Michael

Speaking of pictures speaking for themselves, Himself (War Emblem, that is) and Michael.

20181204 Talk Logistics

New boy on the block, Talk Logistics.

20181204 You and I

And an old boy, lookin’ so good. The one and only You and I.

20181204 You and I 2

Lookin’ so good!

Enjoy!

Beth
photos by Laura

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

November 22, 2018

This evening the theme is – surprise! – food.

Food, and the anticipation of food!

Which is more fun? Sometimes that depends on who you share that waiting time with. Laura actually took these dinner time photos a few days before Thanksgiving, but food is a popular theme every day at Old Friends.

When mid-afternoon comes, the anticipation begins. The younger retirees tend to show their eagerness more obviously.

20181123 Cherono Rail Trip

Cherono (L): Do you see dinner coming yet? Rail Trip: Not yet, but mmm, I can almost taste it, can’t you?

But that doesn’t mean the older codgers aren’t plenty alert for the sight and sound of that orange feed Kubota. They’re just a little more cool and self-possessed about it. Besides, anticipation is much more fun when you can wise-crack to your equally worldly-wise buddies about what’s on the menu and the quality of the room service.  Or maybe, discuss the marvelous mystery of the feed shack. It’s very small, tiny really, yet meal after meal continues to come out of it. Nothing short of miraculous.

20181123 Dinard Archie BCI

Dinard (L), Archie’s Echo and Beau Cashin’ In look down the hill toward the feed shack. She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes…

And then, as so many of you readers have probably done today, there are all those things you do, all the ways you entertain yourself, while you wait for meal time. Only, sometimes you just can’t distract yourself. You’ve got to, really got to, get your teeth into something.

20181123 Rathor

Rathor. Don’t you love his spotted nose?

 

20181123 Eldaafer

How do you like my spots? Eldaafer.

“Do you see it? Is it coming yet? I think maybe I might hear it!

 

20181123 Bunkers Edge Cost Affective

Bunker’s Edge (L), Cost Affective (Rathor again in the background)

20181123 Miss Du Bois Binty Elusive Honey

Miss Du Bois (L, background), Bint Marscay, Elusive Honey

Yes! That’s definitely the dinner-mobile. I can tell by that big box in the back, and John with my favorite dinner utensil, the great, big, blue scoop! I like how he calls, “Hey boys! Hey girls! Come and get it!”

20181123 Fabulous Strike

Fabulous Strike licks his chops as he heads for his feed tub.

Last one to the tubs is a rotten egg! Or maybe what Sokitumi Samurai is really thinking is, first one to the tubs gets the best chance to finish first and then maybe steal some bites of somebody else’s dinner, too. Whee!

20181123 Sokitumi Samurai

Sokitumi Samurai

20181123 Bint Marscay Miss Du Bois

Nobody’d better even think about stealing Bint Marscay’s (L) and Miss Du Bois’s dinners!

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which brings more delight, running for the feed tub, or running for the joy of running.

20181123 Smooth Air 1

Smooth Air

 

20181123 Smooth Air 2

You go, Smooth!

And finally, the contentment of chowing down with a favorite companion or two. After all, there’s plenty for everybody.

20181123 Summer Attraction Palmers Approach

Summer Attraction (L) and Palmer’s Approach at a feed tub together.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all, from all of us at Old Friends.

Beth
photos by Laura

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

November 14, 2018

Goof-off time at the farm. Summer is over. The Breeders’ Cup hoopla is done. The Georgetown Farm is now on its winter schedule, doing one regular tour a day at 11:00. Not all the horses necessarily approve of this.

20181114 silly season Johannesburg Smile

Johannesburg Smile. (No pun intended.)

This year’s new option to schedule a private tour at a time of your choice, with a tour guide who’ll facilitate exactly the kind of tour you have in mind (if at all possible) has an advantage from the horses’ points of view, too. It makes the transition less absolute, since unexpected admirers may add surprise carrots to the day.

But let’s face it. On a chill, damp day like today fewer people schedule tours of any kind, and so the horses are always a little at loose ends when the shift to winter comes.

20181114 River Squall looks for entertainment

River Squall looks for entertainment.

Watching the farm crew work has only limited entertainment value. If you’ve seen one bright orange Kubota trundling by, you’ve seen them all. Unless the Kubota is doing duty as breakfast trolly or dinner-mobile, of course. That never gets old.

20181114 War Emblem on the lookout

Did someone say dinner? War Emblem.

Some of the horses let the cold weather inspire them to race each other. Silver Charm has found another amusement, chasing any great blue herons who happen to land in his paddock. I wish I had a photo of that. It’s quite a sight, the big, grey stallion in full horse-flight scaring up a big grey-blue bird with a swoop of its mighty wing-spread.

But winter also offers its own quiet pleasures. After a few days, waiting for tours shifts into restful relaxation.

20181114 rolling - AD

Afternoon Deelites has himself a roll in the fallen leaves.

20181114 rolling - Kudos

Kudos also enjoys a roll. If you don’t have fingernails it’s a great way to scratch your back.

Not that eating carrots three or more times a day all summer is a hard job. But with more down time, afternoon naps become more frequent.

And winter has its own schedule. Horses thrive on predictable routine, and one of their favorite winter routines revolves around the daily delivery of yummy hay. Along with the predictable delivery of their grain meals, plus Carole’s and Antonio’s year-round daily rounds to provide care, their winter routine is both secure and pleasurable.

20181114 hay Miss Du Bois Elusive Honey

Miss Du Bois (L) and Elusive Honey munch their hay.

Because hay has many uses. For one thing, hay is fun to run for when it gets delivered.

20181114 hay Nobiz 1

Hay delivery. James and Nobiz Like Shobiz.

20181114 hay Nobiz 2

…and Nobiz does an impromptu Hay Dance.

20181114 hay Bourbonize Joey P

Bourbonize (L) and Joey P.

Hay warms the tummy and the whole system delightfully.

20181114 hay AS and GG

Alphabet Soup (R) and Gorgeous George snack on their hay.

And when you’ve eaten your fill…

20181114 hay Bint Marscay digs in

Bint Marscay chows down.

…your hay becomes a warm, dry, delightfully fragrant bed.

20181114 hay bed Dinard Archie BCI

Dinard (L), Archie’s Echo and Beau Cashin’ In.

And there are ways other than napping and eating to have a good time together. Even old friends enjoy making new friends.

20181114 Yankee Fourtune Z Dager

After being one of the farm’s chief meeters-and-greeters all summer, Z Dager, now residing in a side paddock, enjoys a quiet moment with his newfound friend, Yankee Fourtune.

20181114 Game On Dude Green Mask

Game On Dude (L) gets acquainted with Green Mask.

20181114 Dan and Fighting city hall

Danthebluegrassman and Fighting City Hall do … something or other together.

If you didn’t get to Old Friends this summer, think of it this way. Isn’t it proverbial how special it is to visit Venice in the off-season? The weather might not be as warm, the day may be a little overcast or the breeze chilly, but visits during Old Friends’ winter season usually mean a smaller group and so more up close and personal time with the horses. When the visitors are fewer the “locals” (horses) are more eager to see them, and on a smaller tour there’s more time for quality conversations with your guide about that particular equine retiree whose race career you followed, or who has just charmed your socks off for the first time.

So, is Old Friends fun to visit in the winter?

Come find out!

Beth
photos by Laura

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

November 3, 2018

Congratulations to the connections of

MONOMOY GIRL,
winner of the
2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
!

20181019 Williamstown Equisport Photos

Williamstown 1990-2015. Equisport Photos.

Monomoy Girl is a great-granddaughter of Williamstown (1990-2015). Williamstown, a son of Seattle Slew, came to Old Friends in 2007 and lived with us for nearly 8 memorable years. He was outstandingly handsome, powerful, tough, yet with a deep wisdom and kindness beneath that toughness. Some of his greatness of spirit lives on in Monomoy Girl, who has finished first in all but one of her 11 races, including her win in this year’s Kentucky Oaks.

Beth

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

October 19, 2018

The 2018 Breeders’ Cup is only two weeks away. And this year it’s at Churchill Downs, which means Old Friends is gearing up for our

BREEDERS’ CUP CELEBRATION
We hope you’ll join us on the Georgetown farm
Sunday, Nov. 4, noon to 4 pm!

Whether you’ll be attending the races in person or watching on TV, have you made your picks yet? If not, we recommend – you guessed it – the Old Friends Angle.

Here are the possible contenders in each Breeders’ Cup race who are descendants of Old Friends’ residents, past and present. Not all of these horses may actually run, and if listed more than once, the horse may show up in either of the races, but this should give a fairly good idea of which of these championship race hopefuls are “kin to us.”

20181019 Ogygian Connie Bush

Ogygian (1983-2015) has 10 possible Breeders’ Cup descendants this year, including 2 who may run in the Classic. Photo: Connie Bush.

20181019 Black Tie Affair Equisport Photos

Black Tie Affair (1986-2010) has 5 descendants who may start. Equisport Photos.

Friday, Nov. 2

Juvenile Turf Sprint

Land Force
(No Nay Never – Scat Daddy – Johannesburg – Ogygian)

So Perfect
(Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Backtohisroots
(Mark Valeski – Pocho’s Dream Girl – Fortunate Prospect)

Sergei Prokofiev
(Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Juvenile Fillies Turf

So Perfect
(Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Juvenile Fillies

Reflect
(Scat Patty – Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Juvenile Turf

Forty Under
(Argent Affair – Black Tie Affair)

No Needs Never
(No Nay Never – Scat Daddy – Johannesburg – Ogygian)

Juvenile

Call Paul
(2 x OF:  Friesan Fire – Bollinger – Bint Marscay; Avani Force – Avani – Gulch)

 

20181019 Fortunate Prospect Kate

Fortunate Prospect (1981-2012) has 2 possible starters this year. Photo: Kate Dunn.

 

20181019 Gulch Equisport Photos

Gulch (1984-2016) has 2 possible starters. Equisport Photos.

 

Saturday, Nov. 3

Filly & Mare Sprint

Marley’s Freedom
(Relaxing Green – Formal Gold – Black Tie Affair)

Stormy Embrace
(Circular Quay – Thunder Gulch – Gulch)

Skye Diamonds
(Exonerated – Johannesburg – Ogygian)

Separationofpowers
(Shehadmefromhello – Lasting Code – Cajun Nite Lady – Ogygian)

Turf Sprint

Hembree
(Knockatrina – Tattletale – Buzzovertomyhouse)

Dirt Mile

Whitmore
(Melody’s Spirit – Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Promises Fulfilled
(Marquee Delivery – Marquetry)

Filly and Mare Turf

Santa Monica
(Mastercraftsman – Starlight Dreams – Black Tie Affair)

Sprint

Promises Fulfilled
(Marquee Delivery – Marquetry)

Limousine Liberal
(Successful Appeal – Sucessful Dancer – Fortunate Prospect)

Whitmore
(Melody’s Spirit – Scat Daddy –  Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Mile

Next Shares
(winner of the 2018 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs!)

A Raving Beauty
(Mastercraftsman – Starlight Dreams – Black Tie Affair). And she’s grey.

Distaff

Vale Dori
(Asiatic Boy – S. S. Asiatic – Polish Navy)

Monomoy Girl
(Drumette – Endless Parade – Williamstown)

A Raving Beauty
(Mastercraftsman – Starlight Dreams – Black Tie Affair)

Classic

Mendelssohn
(Scat Daddy – Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

Collected
(Helena Bay – Johannesburg – Myth – Ogygian)

20181019 Bint Marscay Laura

Bint Marscay (28 years old) has a possible starter. Photo: her mom (Laura Battles)

20181019 marquetry-tracey dryka

Marquetry (1987-2013) has a possible starter. Photo: Tracey Dryka.

20181019 Polish Navy BTS

Polish Navy (1984-2011) has a possible starter. Photo: Beth Shannon.

20181019 Williamstown Equisport Photos

Williamstown’s great-granddaughter, Monomoy Girl, who won this year’s Kentucky Oaks & continued to dominate through though the summer, will try for the Distaff. Equisport Photos.

Old Friends wishes these impressive Breeders’ Cup competitors luck, and to all the starters and their jockeys, a safe trip.

Beth

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

September 6, 2018

When Laura came to the farm to give Bint Marscay a Tuesday evening bath, she almost didn’t bring her camera. It’s a good thing she did. As we trundled around in the golf cart looking for something interesting for Laura to photograph in the light of a beautiful sunset, we paused to visit with Sun King awhile. Always a horse with a sense of occasion, Sun King saw our attention as an opportunity to turn a quiet evening into PARTY TIME!

20180906 Sun King 01

Hm…do I feel the spirit move me?

20180906 Sun King 02

Oh yeah, I think I do.

20180906 Sun King 03

Come on in, the paddock’s cool!

20180906 Sun King 04

What else could it be, with all this wind I’m making?

20180906 Sun King 05

Hey Kentucky Horse Park, come measure the length of my stride!

20180906 Sun King 06

I am the King of Horses!

20180906 Sun King 07

Whooo-eeeee!!

20180906 Sun King 08

My mane and tail are flame!!!

20180906 Sun King 09

Look here, all you young Breeders’ Cup hopefuls! See how it’s done!

20180906 Sun King 10

There. Did ya see that? Did ya?

20180906 Sun King 11

Whoop! One more time!

20180906 Sun King 12

Taa-daa!!! (As Ide, who can see perfectly well through his fly mask, looks on and applauds.)

Choreography by Sun King
Photos by Laura

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

September 3, 2018

A few weeks ago we lost a longtime family member, Genuine Reward. He’d lived with us for three years, established friendships of different kinds with OF’s paid and volunteer staff, and with visitors who often came to see him. A loss like that is like losing an arm or leg. We’ll never be the same without him. Now, just as that wound begins to heal, we’ve lost a horse with whom we were only beginning to form bonds we hoped would develop and deepen. We looked forward to many happy years with A P Valentine.

20180903 A P Valentine Laura

A P Valentine (1998-2018). Photo by Laura.

When he first arrived at the Georgetown farm, he wanted us to know he was special. Very special. In fact, maybe far above the likes of us and of the other horses in the barn. Like all new arrivals, he spent a brief quarantine in a stall connected to a paddock the horse can use at will to stretch his legs and enjoy the early spring sunshine. A P Valentine was an eye-full, his beauty only partly the classy good looks he inherited from his sire, A. P. Indy and dam, Alydar’s daughter Twenty Eight Carat. Even more of his beauty came from within. He was a vibrant, intelligent stallion. At first he had us thinking he was tough. Many stallions do that, come on strong when they find themselves in a new environment, especially when there are other stallions around. They’re making sure these new horses and humans give them proper respect. We got it. A P Valentine was formidable.

20180903 A P Valentine March 1 2018 1

A P Valentine soon after arrival at Old Friends, March 2018. Photo by Beth.

When he knew we’d got it, and when he’d settled in and got his bearings, he started opening up to us. The real A P Valentine turned out to be spirited, friendly, and ready to form bonds of kindness and playfulness. It was clear that his racing days in Nick Zito’s barn and his 14 years with Dr. Day had given him a positive, confident outlook on life. During the summer he settled into one of the most beautiful paddocks on the farm, one of the new paddocks with good grass, plenty of trees upwind for a wind block, and two gelding herds as neighbors in nearby pastures. We hoped it was a territory he would enjoy ruling as king.

20180903 A P Valentine after roll in mud - Laura

In his paddock, decorated by a glorious roll in the mud.  Photo by Laura.

We enjoyed watching him getting to know his new human family. I know that one of his very favorite new family members was Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner. They had so much love to give each other, if only they’d had the chance.

It’s different from losing a longtime friend, but just as cruel, to have seeming beginnings suddenly end. Like with Charismatic. Like with Stage Colony (d. 2008, and no, we will never forget the ones we love). Like with A P Valentine. Colic is especially devastating because it’s no respecter of age, or apparent health. On his last morning, none of us imagined that A P Valentine would no longer be with us that night.

“What comfort have we now?” Only to care for the living. To give them a happy retirement, not only a secure home and good physical care but the companionship and enjoyment that make an active-minded, affectionate or potentially-affectionate Thoroughbred’s life enjoyable. Most mares and geldings welcome human friendship, but despite stallions’ sometimes forbidding surface impressions I think human companionship is especially welcome to many of them, as each rules his paddock alone. And at Old Friends, for them especially, the people who come to admire and love them (and from their perspective, to entertain them) are a significant part of their happiness.

20180903 A P Valentine March 1 2018 2

A P Valentine. Photo by Beth.

So to all those people who gave Valentine a carrot and admiration, and all those who hoped to do so, to all those who provide all our retirees with that very real part of their happiness, we extend our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. Actually, you, our supporters, are the ones who make everything possible for our retirees. Since I quoted Shakespeare, I’ll add some old Roman wisdom: Carpe diem.

Beth

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

August 27, 2018

I wish Nicanor could read. He’d really get into this post. A post all about Nicanor! Not that he’s the least bit like Little Silver Charm. Nicanor doesn’t claim to be debonair or have savoir faire. He doesn’t claim to be more expert at anything. After all, he’s only 12 years old. Nicanor’s world is wide, wonderful, and full of the amazing and unexpected. In fact, the amazingness of the world seems to be Nicanor’s favorite thing about it.

20180827 Nicanor 1

Nicanor

Granted, his world has been enviably benign. From the moment he was foaled, on March 15, 2006 while his full brother Barbaro was on the Kentucky Derby trail, Nicanor has been loved. By his breeders-racing owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson. By the Mill Ridge Farm staff who cared for his Mom, La Ville Rouge (now retired to the Jacksons’ Pennsylvania farm) and him. By his trainers Michael Matz, then Leigh Delacour, and their staffs. By Shamrock Farm in Maryland where he briefly stood at stud. And now, by everybody at Old Friends in Georgetown. Some show up each day just to take care of him. Others (horses in the neighboring paddocks) do many fun and interesting things just to entertain him. Best of all, so many nice visitors flock to the farm just to admire him.

Nicanor returns their attention with abounding exuberance. Or should I say, with bounding exuberance? When he spots a tour coming, he doesn’t just mosey over to say hi. Unless he’s daydreaming about something else, he comes cantering over, breeze in his mane, happy expression on his face. Never mind the dignity of those retirees with championship reputations to maintain, Nicanor is so secure in himself that he’ll gladly go the extra mile to entertain. I never thought I’d say this, but he’s even upstaging those consummate comedians, Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring.

20180827 Nicanor 2

For one thing, Pops and Ringy have developed a fine script and they like to stick to it. They’re like a long-running Broadway musical. Nicanor is all about ad lib. You never know what any given tour will feature. Will he want petting and carrots? Will he stand aloof as a statue, posing for photos? Or will he forget even the treats and demand a group back scratch? The more hands scratching his back the merrier! When that’s over, maybe he’ll follow his new friends along the fence line. Or will he suddenly whirl around his paddock? Standing still he shows such class, but in motion, enthusiasm takes over. The noble statue becomes a frolicking goofyball.

20180827 Nicanor 3

There’s no question he loves his new job. As soon as he sees cars park, he’s on the case, ready and waiting for a new day and new friends who’ve come to the farm just to fall in love with him. And do they ever. From Nicanor’s point of view, there’s only one thing wrong with this job. The tours don’t spend the full hour and a half with him! Whyever not? Those other horses aren’t nearly as fun, they don’t put themselves to nearly as much trouble to be inventive, amusing, and engaging. The tour guides just don’t get it, leading people away like that before the hour and a half of the tour is done!

But hey, look on a bright side. What goes up the hill must come back down. Whichever route the tours take, they have to pass his paddock again at the end. And—unless he’s gotten interested in something else—he’ll be waiting for a double-dip of love: “Hey, hello, remember me? My name’s Nicanor, I’m the one you came to see.”

20180827 Nicanor 5

Nicanor gets a back scratch from friends Barbara Fossum and Pat Sormani.

20180827 Nicanor 6

When that lip begins to twitch he’s saying you’ve found a sweet spot!

Watching people, I think that for many of his new friends, he’s absolutely right. He’s the one they’ll remember. He’s the one who met them the most open-heartedly and gave of himself the most personally. I notice this happening again and again, people who loved his famous brother, and people who scarcely recognize his brother’s name, falling in love with Nicanor, entirely for himself.

20180827 Nicanor 4

I think that for the first time in his life, Nicanor is carving his own trail. He’s making his own reputation, who he is. Impressive, and kind, and fun, and silly at times, with even more than usual of a horse’s instinctive gift to be in the present, to experience each experience, and to live with bursting abundance. Nicanor may not have earned a million dollars or competed for pecking order with the horses in the surrounding paddocks, but I’d say this horse knows a thing or two.

Beth
photos by Laura

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized