Have you ever wondered where great athletes go to retire? I’m talking about racing horses that make million of dollars for their owners. In the past, these athletes sold for as little as $1,000 and were sent to slaughterhouses. It was heartbreaking to hear these amazing animals were being discarded and thrown away as soon as they quit winning races or producing offspring. This was so upsetting to Michael Blowen that he started a non-profit farm for these amazing horses. The formation of Old Friends kicked into high gear when the news broke that Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had perished in a slaughterhouse in 2002 (learn more about Ferdinand here).
These beautiful horses now have a place to go once they retire. They are allowed to run and play, roll in the mud and stay dirty if they want. The creatures are given sweets, carrots by the truck load, and are loved and cared for unti their last breath.
We took the tour at Old Friends and not only met some of the greatest athletes on earth but Michael Blowen himself. You can tell that he, the volunteers and his workers, love their jobs and these thoroughbreds. Old Friends now cares for more than 100 horses across three states with nearly 20,000 tourists visiting annually to get up close and personal with living legends. We were able to see last great son of Damascus, Ogygian, Kiri’s Clown, and stakes winner You and I, along with Swan’s Way and Escapedfromnewyork and horses who never earned much more than our love and respect.
We give the Old Friends Horse farm four and half popcorns out of five. The girls did get to feed the horses, but the guide gave out most of the treats to the horses. We were not able to pet any of the horses because they bite. She was very knowledgeable about each horse we visited and everyone had its own story. We got to meet Michael Blowen himself who actually came over and told some of the stories to our small group. It is well worth a trip, and we learned a lot about the racing industry. The price is $10 for adults and kids are free which we did not mind paying because they operate mostly on donations. Tours are daily at 10 am, 1 pm & 3 pm. Reservations are required. To schedule a tour, you call at (502) 863-1775.