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Retired Gulch is AT Old Friends!

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  • Retired Gulch is AT Old Friends!

    I had not found a thread about Guch's retirement, at 25, due to declining fertility, and so, when I saw this on Blood Horse's site, I was awfully touched, and thought I'd share...


    How wonderful is that? I hope he is there for a good long while!
    When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou

  • #2
    I am against the move. Gulch has never been on display. Older stallions often do not take moves well and for Lanes End to send one of their long time stallions to a farm which should be kept available for horses who are in need of rescuing, just isn't right.

    Justify it all you will, I am familiar with Old Friends and I think very highly of it, as I do of the TB Retirement Farm. Both places fill an important need in the racing world.

    But they are there for a reason; to take horses that have no other home.

    Right now, I have a OTTB named Commanche Trail. My Mom bred him and sold him to Overbrook Farm at the yearling sales. DWL trained him. He was the rabbit for Tabasco Cat when TC went up against Holy Bull as 3 year olds. When those 2 retired, CT was allowed to sprint in his own right and he became a MGSW.

    I claimed him years later when he was running at Mountaineer for a $4000 claiming tag.

    He has now become a drain on my finances to keep. I momentarily thought of applying to the TRF to see if they would take him, but quickly rejected that idea.

    Why? Because I owe it to CT to let him live out his life here and I CAN keep him, even though I have to watch my pennies to do it. The TRF is for horses with NO home and if CT went there, another horse would have to be turned away.

    Same with Gulch. Lanes End owes it to him to keep him in the same style he has lived all his life. Not put him in a side show. And, if Gulch goes to Old Friends, eventually another horse will be turned away for lack of room.

    Shame on you Lanes End. Think of the horse first -- A 25 year old stallion does not need to become a freak in a side show. How do you know he will enjoy the public looking at him? How do you know he won't start to bite and get nervous and become unhappy?

    Why take a risk with a stallion who has been so good to your farm for so many years?
    "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

    Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


    • #3
      My take on the Old Friends deal?

      It's all about the money. Gulch is a recognizable name. Although Old Friends does not charge a fee for a tour, they don't make any secrets about accepting donations, either.

      Gulch will draw people in. More people = more donations. More donations = more money in the bank to use to rescue/retire some other oldie with a story to tell.

      It's a business, just like everything else. And I have no idea why Lane's End sent him there. Maybe some deal made over cocktails at Dudley's or something.
      "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


      • #4
        Awful lot of hating going on.

        If someone is familiar with Old Friends, and the many major articles written about the organization, then it will be clear to them that the intent is to be a combination of things....a living history museum for the two most neglected groups in horse racing....namely the fans who support the horses, follow their careers and dream of an up close and personal view of them at some point. And the horses...naturally being the second group. While many farms offer tours and open houses, many do not. Those who do typically employ a strict hands off policy. While I understand there are reasons for this, for some people who loved to watch these horses in their prime, Old Friends may be a once in a life time chance to see their favorite athlete, even in the twilight of his time on earth. Secondly, the folks at Old Friends are professionals who understand the unpredictable nature of stallions and animals in general. They take care with each group of guests to put safety first while still allowing an opportunity to reach out and touch these beautiful animals...and it is VERY offensive to think of these lovely retirees as being in a freak show. They are cared for by devoted volunteers, not to mention seasoned equine industry professionals who donate much of their time and services for a good cause and last but not least founder Michael Blowen and his spouse, Diane who live on the main Old Friends property. The fiercest of stallions have mellowed over time with such loving stewardship and while it would be foolish to let ones guard down, I have seen amazing transformations in stallions under their care. Freak Show? Certainly not. And, after all his years of being shown for open houses and prospective business partners, etc. I am quite sure that Gulch is used to human eyes upon him and being a famous racehorse, he is used to crowds, not to mention daily handling his entire life. He is in very good hands and will be treated with respected and dignity. I also believe that he will develop a great affinity for carrots, which every horse is deserving of. Lanes End themselves have been quoted as saying he's a bit of a ham....instead of feeling sorry for him, why not imagine he just might enjoy all the attention and adulation.

        Secondly, yes, it takes money to run a non-profit organization and yes, Old Friends gladly accepts donations, no amount is too small or large. I wonder why this is stated as if it was a bad thing? Where else would the money come from except for private and public donations? Grants have been given in the past as well, but this will only cover a portion of the operating expenses. The NAMES at Old Friends, they are there to draw the majority of the visitors and then, of course, this gives the opportunity for education and awareness building of those horses who live RIGHT ALONGSIDE the champs that NO ONE has ever heard of. Old Friends also has developed high school and college internships as well as educational kits that have been taught in the local school systems, which allow young people to gain an understanding of the life cycle and importance of stewardship toward our equine charges. Out of 80 head of horses, there are just as many claimers and low level allowance winners as there are stars. The post was correct in saying that for every famous horse, if donations and support come from that corner, then that opens up a space for an unknown hard knocker. And both are treated equally, every day. Many a time will someone visit a G1 winner they followed and come away having fallen in love with a $3500 level claiming horse they never heard of in their life. Finally, if someone takes issue with the model for Old Friends, then I invite them to raise the money and donate it themselves to keep the organization and the 80 plus horses it supports going. What is the problem with a well known horse being an equine ambassador who works on behalf of other lesser knowns?

        I think the thing that might be also forgotten here is that people want to connect with horses. With the proper conditions and supervision, OF guests are allowed to do just that. If you don't get the sense that comes with that connection, you haven't been around horses long enough, or you've been around them so long that you're just jaded and forgotten what it's like to be in their presence. I personally started out with a visit to the old OF facility. I knew nothing of them, or even the horses, except for the fact that one mare was the dam of Silver Charm. I did and still do have 2 pasture pals I sponsored through TRF. On our first visit, Michael himself gave the tour and took as much time as we liked visiting each horse - at the time there were 23 I think. He was open, welcoming and although he used common sense in relation to our getting in the "bite zone" of such infamously tempermental stallions as Ruhlmann and Creator, he didn't shoo us away either. That type of acceptance of the fans who truly adore these horses was enough for me to become a life long supporter.

        Old Friends is only part of a global network of individuals and organizations fighting to provide a safe and dignified retirement to OTTBS. Some groups retrain and rehome, Old Friends provides a Central forum and each retiree remains a part of the family until he or she crosses the Bridge. Neither is wrong, both are needed. Is it not prudent to focus on the bigger issues at hand...over breeding, slaughter, etc...rather than pick because a certain formula allows one particular group to be many things to many people? The horses support the other horses, the people support them, too. If it ain't broke don't fix it...and I have to add, no one critizes the KY Horse Park for accepting famous horses like Da Hoss, Funny Cide, Cigar and the late John Henry into their Hall of Champions. They "make money" off horses, too, don't they? And I have gone to the Horse Park each since it opened, too, FYI.

        Finally, as someone who has visited the farm many times, I have to say this....while I know there are many upscale, black tie events that have been attended by Michael and Diane as the founders of Old Friends, the statement about cocktails made me laugh out loud. Naturally, yes, they have been to the occasional fine dining establishment or fancy awards banquet as part of the extended Throughbred community, but overall, you are more likely to find them enjoying a quiet dinner at the local pizza shop or Thai food place...when Michael's not giving tours or Diane's not mucking out Little Silver Charm - the mini horse mascot's round pen...oh, and let's not forget chipping the ice out of ALL of the waterers in the pre-dawn darkness during the winter months. And maybe you didn't know but...When it is deemed enevitable that an Old Friends has to go on to their final reward, it is Michael that holds their lead shank as they enjoy their last blade of green grass on earth so these deserving souls don't feel alone. And if you don't think they feel, then again, you're either not around them enough or you've been jaded and need to take a fresh look. It takes a village to run Old Friends and in that way, they are blessed with many hands, however, the founders of Old Friends are there on the ground - with a few exceptions - every day. Yes, it takes money to run a charity, but in Old Friends case, thanks to its founders, charity begins at home. I am forever grateful to Old Friends and anyone who stands up and supports them or any other organization or individual who provides a loving home for these magnificent creatures.


        • #5

          Nice of you to join COTH for this discussion. I see that your post's title is "Awful Lot of Hating Going On". I don't think you understand COTH. Or at least this thread so far. There is no "hating". There is discussion of 2 sides of an issue.

          I no longer live in Lex. But when I did, I had a farm and rehabbed OTTB's. At that point, I met Michael who came to my farm and was just putting the idea of a retirement farm in place. He had just been offered Nuckols/Hurstland and was very excited. I offered to help by coming over to evaluate horses and telling him which could be retrained for resale (to support the others) and which were not worth the time, so he would know. He thanked me and said he would get in touch, which he never did.

          But that was before the concept of Old Friends, as a place for unwanted, pensioned stallions was formed.

          Last I knew OF was still at the Nuckols/Hurstland site. It is a nice location, but it is not huge and there is a finite number of horses which can be housed there.

          It is also not Lanes End. (Nothing is.)

          I am not diss'ing the Blewins or their dedication or their farm. If you will read my post, I start right off saying that. Michael has a dream and is working hard and struggling to make his dream a reality. I applaud him for it.

          Where you (and Michael and Lanes End) and I differ is in sending Gluch to OF. I do not think it is in the best interests of the horse. I think the horse has done so much for Lane's End that the mere thought of having him retire elsewhere should never have crossed their minds.

          THE HORSE always comes first. Always.

          This is not the first time that Lane's End has done this, BTW. It sent one of their stallions (Private Terms? Private Account? I may be close or not even close) to KHP many years ago when he was pensioned. This was a horse who was known to be very nervous and not adaptive to new situations. PLUS he had a neurological problem which caused his penis not to retract!

          To say I (and hundreds of other people) were appalled is putting it mildly. I wrote a letter to the editors of both BH and TT. The BH published mine.

          Fortunately, within weeks, the horse was moved, not back to LE but to a farm in another state (W. Va?) for the rest of his life.

          I may have some of these details wrong. It was years ago. But the general outline is correct.

          Lanes End already had one strike against it, for giving away a stallion who had been good to that farm. This is the second strike. I don't see any other stud farm giving their stallions away to be oogled at in the twilight of their lives.

          And, yes, I think that KHP is a freak show, too. But at least they rarely get old stallions. Younger horses, show horses and geldings which have not spent decades on a stud farm living in a routine. I do not cry for them, as I do for these old stallions being uprooted for the purpose of earning money by being shown off to the public. They have already made their connections millions of $$, first as racehorses, then as stallions. Let their connections take care of them for once. They do not owe anyone anything.
          "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

          Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


          • #6
            I think it's great that he has been arranged a retirement which will ensure he remains safe and well looked after -- isn't that what's most important?

            Side show? God forbid my any of my horses end up having to contend with hoardes of carrot weilding admirers in their golden years. The higher profile side shows attract the funds to secure the retirements of the lesser known horses.

            For pete's sake, it's not like the lifestyle of a stallion on a TB farm is exactly natural or without stress -- and keeping a retired breeding stallion who knows full well what it's all about on a breeding farm poses even further stress.

            Frankly I think this could be a win win all the way around.


            • #7
              FWIW I'm with Lord Helpus on this one. The model for retired stallions has already been done--Gainesway keeps them going until they are into their thirties in a private part of the farm where they are not on display and are quite content just to be old horses with mud in their hair. Gainesway does not under any circumstances allow photos of its Gashouse Gang.

              I don't know Gulch other than having seen him at Lanes End but why doesn't LE do that with him instead of such a public retirement? Not every horse wants to be on constant display.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                FWIW I'm with Lord Helpus on this one. The model for retired stallions has already been done--Gainesway keeps them going until they are into their thirties in a private part of the farm where they are not on display and are quite content just to be old horses with mud in their hair. Gainesway does not under any circumstances allow photos of its Gashouse Gang.

                I don't know Gulch other than having seen him at Lanes End but why doesn't LE do that with him instead of such a public retirement? Not every horse wants to be on constant display.
                I am all about the rescues - but I agree here - this should have been LE taking care of him - not sending him to OF who is there for horses that have no where else to go.

                Not a good way to repay a horse that has done so much for them.
                Hickstead 1996-2011 Godspeed
                " Hickstead is simply the best and He lives forever in our hearts"
                Akasha 1992-2012 - I will always love you sweet girl.


                • #9
                  its great to see Gulch has retired. he is the sire of my thoroughbred out in the barn. I dont thinl Old friends is anything like the kentucky horse park in which there is a constant overflow of people going through. Old friend's has their horses out in pasture all day long, etc with the best of the best care. their horses are not primped and cleaned all day long like most stallion barns, their horses are out rolling in the dirt, playing, and eating much.

                  They are in no way an animal on display, but normal horses turned out in an environment where people can walk around and look at them. i think old friends does a tremendous job keeping their horses in a relaxed environment, where they can go about their daily lives while people can come and learn and watch while the horses are content and happy. its not like there is a river of people standing around a primped, bathed, cleaming horse in a stallion barn like the KY horse park on a daily, routine basis


                  • #10
                    Lord Helpus

                    I think the horse you are referring to was Pleasant Colony.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by libgrrl View Post
                      I think the horse you are referring to was Pleasant Colony.

                      BINGO! Two words -- The first one begining with a P. That's closer than I usually get.

                      I still shake my head at that one. A known high strung horse who fretted and lost weight at the drop of a hat being donated to KHP to be brought out 2 - 3 times a day for shows to tourists. And his paddock in full view of everyone walking around...

                      Plus the dangling penis!!! What a great horse to show off to the public. The perfect, er, specimen for little kids to ogle at.

                      What were Lane's End and KHP thinking would come of this? Obviously nothing good.

                      My farm adjoined the old Buckland Farm, where he had stood all his life until Mr Evans died; I could see the stallion barn from my barn. [Sarah Palin probably could see Russia from there ) I offered to take him, thinking that he might feel comforted, living 2 fields away from where he had always lived.

                      But some kind person beat me to it and has given him a retirement home elsewhere.

                      A black mark for sure.

                      AP Indy is getting on in years. I wonder where he will end up. (Yesterday, I would have thought that was a facetious comment, but the divesting of a quality horse such as Gulch, leads me to believe that nothing is sacred.)

                      I may be casitgated for saying these things "out loud". Dissing Lane's End is like saying the emperor has no clothes. But, judging from the PM's I am getting, I am the tip of the iceberg, feeling this way.
                      "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                      Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                      • #12
                        I enjoy visiting the Hall of Champions every time I am in Lexington - never felt like I was gawking over horses in a Freak show. If I were a horse I would be thrilled to live in the Hall of Champions.

                        I would imagine Old Friends may be similar.

                        If a horse is not happy in these situations I would wager that both places would find a place where the horses are happy. That is what KHP did for Pleasant Colony. I believe there is a clause for Funny Cide if he does not fit in as well. So what is the problem?

                        I see your gripes about Lanes End but I in no way understand why you seem to dislike horses in situations like OF or KHP.

                        Pat Ness


                        • #13
                          I have a huge amount of respect for Old Friends. Love what they do. And I can see both sides of the argument. The more I think about it, the more I agree that space at Old Friends could be better used for stallions with no other options. But, I'm sure LE gave OF a hefty donation (or I would hope, anyway!), and I think it's right to say that having an "all star cast" of stallions at Old Friends does help to bring in income to support the lesser known guys who live there.


                          • #14
                            The purpose of Old Friends isn't just to provide for down on their luck rescue stallions. They were founded as a retirement facility, particularly for stallions, in addition to doing rescue work. They utilize the famous retirees to bring in funds to support the needy rescue cases. Like it or not, people don't go to places to see down on their luck claimers; they want to see the stars. At Old Friends they go to see the stars and might come away loving an unknown rescue, but it is the stars that bring in the people and the funds.

                            If Gulch comes with a large stipend from Lane's End, he and Lane's End are doing their part for less fortunate thoroughbreds. If it doesn't work out and Lane's End won't take him back, then I could see castigating Lane's End.


                            • #15
                              Gulch is my horse's grandfather....I have to admit I would be interested in visiting him. It's definitely brought my attention to their program. If the horse is OK with the move I really don't see what the big deal is.
                              I love my Econo-Nag!


                              • #16
                                I thought it was a little odd when I read the article about Gulch going to Old Friends. Summer Squall stayed at Lane's End from the time he was pensioned until he was euthanized a few months ago. It seems like they would/should do the same for Gulch and all of their stallions. Especially Gulch, since he was one of the first stallions at the farm.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by billiebob View Post
                                  .... If the horse is OK with the move I really don't see what the big deal is.
                                  Gulch is 25. He has lived at Lane's End for 20 years. As in -- he has NEVER LEFT THE FARM IN 20 YEARS. He knows no other life.

                                  I have never bred a mare to Gulch, but I know his stud fee was in the $60,000 range for many years. That is $60,000 x (min) 100 mares = $6,000,000 a year for, say 10 years = $60,000,000 and maybe half that amount for the other ten years = $30,000,000.

                                  These are extrememly rough, off the cuff numbers, but, ballpark, Gulch has brought in approximately $90,000,000 for his connections.

                                  Let's be conservative and reduce that number by 15% and we are still talking $75,000,000.00.

                                  IMO, that kind of money ought to buy him a stall on the same farm he has lived on for the last 20 years.

                                  There should be no question: "IF the horse is OK with the move..."

                                  At his age, he should not be asked to relocate.

                                  "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                                  Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                                  • #18
                                    i personally don't have a problem with Gulch going to Old Friends.he'll get excellent care and loads of carrots for the rest of his life...I personally support the work that Old Friends does,and i hope to someday start a branch of Old Friends(or something equivalent to it)here in New Hampshire...


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by EightBelles134 View Post
                                      i personally don't have a problem with Gulch going to Old Friends.he'll get excellent care and loads of carrots for the rest of his life...I personally support the work that Old Friends does,and i hope to someday start a branch of Old Friends(or something equivalent to it)here in New Hampshire...
                                      I don't think the care is the question, and no one's trashing Old Friends... just the motives behind why Lane's End decided to send him there, instead of letting him retire on the only farm he's ever known.


                                      • #20
                                        I have to agree with Lord Helpus on this

                                        Gulch has earned a nice retirement and surely, Lane's End has the ability to provide that. Why would they send him away after he has made so much money for them?! It's not like he's a five year old that they might have to support for 25 years after only having a couple of years at stud. He's old and he shouldn't have to be uprooted at this point in his life!!

                                        I have no problem with Old Friends and support their mission. It just seems that it might not be the best thing for a 25 y.o. who hasn't left his home in twenty years. If he's going with a stipend, why can't LE make a straight donation and leave the horse where he is?
                                        Y'all ain't right!