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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Because hay has many uses. For one thing, hay is fun to run for when it gets delivered.
Hay warms the tummy and the whole system delightfully.
And when you’ve eaten your fill…
…your hay becomes a warm, dry, delightfully fragrant bed.
And there are ways other than napping and eating to have a good time together. Even old friends enjoy making new friends.
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!
photos by Laura