Many people wonder what happens to race horses when they can no longer race. Well, some of them are bought to be hunter/jumpers; some are purchased as therapy horses; some are purchased by riding schools; some become companions of horse lovers, and some have unfortunate fates that I don’t want to discuss here. But many of them end of in this happy place.
They become permanent residents of Old Friends Equine retirement home for horses. The farm is open to the public for guided tours. I visited this farm last year and shared it with you then, but since horse theme going on this week because of the Kentucky Derby, it seems only fitting to share the photos with you again.
Most race horses can compete for just a few years, but they can live to be 20 and even 30 years old. For instance, Gulch here won over a million dollars and sired some impressive offspring, but when his racing and breeding days were over, he was put out to pasture – literally. Old Friends farm was there to accept him.
This big boy didn’t do so great on the race track or on the stud farm, but he still needed a home. The masks the horses are wearing work like sun glasses to protect their eyes from the sun and flies. They can see just fine with them.
The horses at Old Friends love to ham it up for their visitors because they will get to eat these carrots.
This rock star is named Silver Charm. He has his own Facebook page (Little Silver Charm at Old Friends) and is a miniature horse.
He also plays soccer.
Silver Charm has a big crush on Zenyatta. She is a very successful fillie who raced. Her photo hangs in his run-in shed.
Meet Popcorn Deelites. He is an actor and has his own Screen Actor’s Guild card. Can’t you tell he loves a camera???
He earned $10,000 playing in “Seabiscuit”. They used eight horses, and Popcorn Deelites was one. His role was to play Seabiscuit when he was in the starting gate waiting to start a race. Popcorn has a calm temperament and didn’t mind staying in the gate for the long filming process. He gladly donated his paycheck to the farm.
They also have a large horse cemetery, and every Memorial Day the farm has its own ceremony to recognize and honor the horses that have passed away. The Keeneland bugler plays a “call to the post” in honor of the horses, and every adult in attendance has the opportunity to toast the horses with a shot of the best Kentucky bourbon.
Old Friends operates completely on private donations. They give tours daily. There is no charge, but they will accept financial contributions. If you are ever near Georgetown, KY, located about 15 miles north of Lexington, plan to visit the farm. Be sure to make a reservation. You will learn lots of interesting facts about the horses’ pasts, and you will make some new friends.