A Follow-Up to an Old Story

Posted on March 5, 2008. Filed under: horses, KY, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , |

CH Gypsy Supreme - KY Horse Park Hall of ChampionsA couple of years ago, I wrote an essay on spec that I sent to a Kentucky business magazine called The Lane Report . (No relation, BTW. My married name is Lane, though.) When you read it, you’ll be able to tell that it all comes from the heart. Here’s a follow-up.

I still go for monthly blood draws, but I see different nurses now. For about the past year, I hardly ever saw the nurse featured in the article. BTW, I never told her about the story. Anyway, I saw her Thursday. She asked, “Been to Kentucky lately?” I replied that I was going in May, but that I had skipped a year. Then she said, “Don’t you still have family there?” I said that I did, but didn’t add that my parents are deceased and I’m an only child. And then she scolded me for not going to see familyLittle girl petting horse at Kentucky Horse Park.

My relatives and a lot of my old friends from Kentucky travel but don’t come up to see me. The invitation is there. I’ve even heard about some going on a “leaf peeper” tour of New England. Did I get a call when they went? No.

So, I shot back, “They come up here and don’t tell me.” Then, I added, “Besides, if I contacted them, they wouldn’t let me do the horse stuff.”

Then, I thought I’d better save face. So, I told her that I was planning a horse blog. I’d be going down to work, I said. I wouldn’t have time to see everybody anyway.

Because, as I didn’t add, if I visit one, then I have to go all over northern Kentucky and southern Ohio to see them all. And then horses would get squeezed out, again. Which was the story of most of my years in Kentucky. Even those few friends who had been into horses have gotten out. For them, it’s all part of the past. Reminders of hard dirty work and some injuries, as well.
What an irony — to have to move to Connecticut to be able to get to do horse things in Kentucky every once in a while.

This time, she didn’t ask me about real estate ads, as I described in the article. Maybe she’s given up on her dream? So maybe that’s why she took a potshot at mine?

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Visiting an Old Friend

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: farm tours, horses, KY, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

The horse with his eye on the ridge ahead is Creator. (Let me know if the picture is too big and too slow to load. Creator at the old Old Friends farm

He lives at the Old Friends thoroughbred retirement farm. He’s handsome, egotistical (horse people call that “studly”), territorial and cheerfully willing to bite the hand that feeds him. Of course, anyone who visits Old Friends falls in love with him immediately.

Old Friends has moved since I took this photo. The farm had leased this property but now has its own farm in Georgetown, KY. I haven’t been to the new farm yet. What you see is from a previous location.

But the purchase of the farm has helped with the plan of offering a destination for horse lovers to visit with retired champions. Tours, of course, are offered. And a house on the grounds serves as a B&B. But the best reason for the new property was to expand. Old Friends is now the home to about 28 horses.

Creator was one of the first horses to retire to Old Friends. He’s a former European champion who stood at stud in Japan. Now in Kentucky, he greets adoring visitors to who long to pet that handsome head.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 2

Posted on February 21, 2008. Filed under:, farm tours, horse stories, horses, KY, Lexington, Smarty Jones, The Bluegrass, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Remember Smarty Jones? (A picture would be nice here, wouldn’t it? ;-> Sorry – workin’ on it! 🙂 )

Smarty won the hearts of millions in his bid for the 2004 Triple Crown. Was it his comeback story from a nearly-devastating skull fracture the year before? Or his charming senior owners, The Chapmans, who showed us that dreams can come true? Or the way he ran with his ears pinned flat against his head, as if he knew about aerodynamics?

Well, fans who plan ahead, can visit Smarty. I probably should add that you shouldn’t try to pet him, unless his groom gives permission. We’ll cover horse farm tour etiquette in Part 4. (Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Just some common sense.)

Anyway, Smarty now leads the life of a breeding stallion at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, KY, which is between Lexington and Louisville. The farm offers tours by appointment only.

I remember that when Smarty’s retirement was imminent, the Chapmans toured the Bluegrass farms in search of the best home, according to articles I read in The One of their requirements was that Smarty retire to a farm where his fans could visit him. Three Chimneys fit the bill. So, a prospective visitor wanting to see Smarty Jones needs to make an appointment. The Three Chimneys website has a link for contact info to reserve tours.

Keep in mind that Smarty is a man in demand, both for human visitors and his dates with The Ladies, which is his real job. There are certain times of year that his human visitor appointment calendar is booked up: the week leading up to the first Saturday in May (KY Derby time) and when events are scheduled at the nearby racetrack Keeneland. Plus, the farm is open for tours probably during limited hours on selected days. “Book early” is good advice to avoid disappointment.

But what if Smarty’s people say he’s tied up (or booked up?) Well, there are plenty of other stars in the Bluegrass.

Finding them will be the topic of tomorrow’s installment, part 3.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 1

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: blogs, farm tours, horses, Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), KY, Lexington, The Bluegrass | Tags: , , , , , |

Let’s say that you’re a fan of Michael Jordan. And let’s say that you find out that he offers “calling hours” every so often in his home. Wouldn’t you like to know more?

Well, if you’re a fan of champion thoroughbred race horses and if that horse is retired in the Lexington, KY, area, you just might be able to go visit him. Some of the farms, although fewer and fewer, accept visitors by appointment. After all, these are still working farms. And breeding thoroughbred horses is big business.

But so is equine tourism – to the tune of $8.8 billion dollars a year, according to the Kentucky Equine Education Project. The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau offers tourists a page of info on touring the farms. Visitors have a variety of options, ranging from group tours to independently arranging tours with the farms themselves.

Even if you don’t have a favorite horse to see, visiting the farms is a wonderful experience. Many farms are distinctive architectural wonders in themselves. Plus, the farm employees tend to be appreciative of their charges and happy to see interest in them.I tend to prefer calling individual farms myself. My next post tomorrow will cover ways to set up a tour.

(Bear with me. I’m still finding photos and learning this photo isnertion thing. 🙂 Thanks for your patience.)

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