Saturday, July 22, 2017

Old Friends

There are a lot of Breyers at Breyerfest...
but there are a lot of real horses, too. 
Some of these horses live at the Kentucky Horse Park year round.
Others are there on a temporary basis, to take part in various events and competitions.
And then there are the thousands of horses, primarily Thoroughbreds, who live at one of the many expansive farms throughout the greater Lexington area.
I only managed to visit one of these farms, but it was a good one: Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms.
I was accompanied by two of my favorite people, Mackenzie...
and Jodi Purdy. 
We arrived early, and spent some time in the gift shop. 
Look at all those carrots! 
Then it was time for the tour.
The first horse we met was Sarava. 
This little guy spoiled War Emblem's 2002 Triple Crown bid with a surprise win in the Belmont Stakes.
The next horse was Genuine Reward. He was the first foal produced by Kentucky Derby winning filly, Genuine Risk. Although he did not inherit his mother's racing talent, he is a handsome, friendly horse, and I was happy to meet him.
 Although he did not inherit his mother's racing talent, he is a handsome, friendly horse, and I was happy to meet him.
Some of the other horses on our tour included Amazombie, winner of 2011 Breeders Cup Sprint,
Ide, winner of the 1996 Rebel Stakes,
 two of the horses who played Seabiscuit in the movie of the same name...
 and Tuneintobow, who did nothing of consequence but still deserves a happy retirement.
Of course, we also met Old Friends' biggest stars, but I took enough photos of those horses to merit several additional posts.
This was a really fun field trip and one of the best parts of my entire Breyerfest weekend. If you happen to find yourself in Lexington, be sure to visit Old Friends.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The (long) road to Breyerfest

My Breyerfest experience started at six pm mountain time on Tuesday, when Erin, Mel and Jason arrived on my doorstep. We loaded my stuff, took a couple pictures...
photo by James Buxton
and headed to Starbucks.
Once everyone was properly caffeinated, we started the long trip east to Lexington.
It was dark by the time we reached Kansas. Problems with the vehicle rental company had put the trip hours behind schedule, so there was no time to stop and rest.  
 Instead, we drove through the night. 
photo by Melanie Miller
I dozed off for a few hours after midnight and woke up to a beautiful Missouri sunrise. 
We drove over rivers... 
and bridges... 
and passed a million acres of Illinois corn.
Kidding/not kidding. 
Every now and then we stopped to fill the tank, clean the windshield, use the bathroom...
and catch Pokemons.
Mostly, however, we drove. 
I got a little excited when we reached Indiana, mostly because I'd never been there previously.
For the record, this part of Indiana looked a lot like Illinois, but with less corn.
Then--finally!--we saw something that was truly worth seeing...
We drove through the Louisville traffic... 
and on into... 
We arrived at the Clarion Holiday Inn North (CHIN) around four pm Eastern time. 
I am probably two decades too old for this kind of crazy, nonstop roadtrip, but somehow this was fun. It's Breyerfest and normal rules do not apply!

Thursday, July 20, 2017


When I was twenty one, I spent a summer working as a wrangler at Lake Mancos Ranch in the mountains of southwest Colorado.
This was a fun job, but it was also a hard, physical job, with long hours and very little pay. 
Sixty five horses saddled every day before breakfast
The small, tight-knit staff coped by complaining. A lot.
Drinking helped, too. And bonfires.
During one of these bitch sessions, a veteran employee named Laura laughed and said, "Here's the thing about Lake Mancos Ranch. We all complain while we're here. We complain about the work and the weather, the food and the accommodations, the owners and the guests. We think want to go home and live our regular lives, but I promise you this: Almost as soon as you get home, you're going to wish you were back at the Ranch."
I'm not sure anyone believed her at the time, but her words were prophetic. Even now, all these years later, I wish I could return to Lake Mancos Ranch.
I thought Breyerfest would be like BreyerWest, but bigger.
I was wrong. Breyerfest is the best of times and the worst of times all at the same time. In essence, it's Lake Mancos Ranch.
That was a long, hard, hot, fun, frustrating and exhilarating week. I am so glad to be home. I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Breyerfest loot

Breyerfest is over, and I am back in Colorado. Happily, I didn't come home empty handed. Here are some, but not all, of the things that followed me home from Lexington.
And... back to photo editing!