Love & Companionship: A Story of Friendship at Old Friends Equine
Conventional wisdom says stallions must live alone—isolated in pastures since, their instinct is to battle others for dominance over mares. Out on that plains, that’s pretty much the case. At Old Friends, the non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY–home to more than 100 former racehorses, 15 of them stallions—we’ve discovered that the opposite can sometimes be true. Here, at least one of our former champions is challenging the norm.
Alphabet Soup, the now 27-year-old son of Cozzene, was always one to defy the odds. As a racehorse, Soup was late to the party. He didn’t show his real talent until the age of four, when he romped to wins in the 1995 Native Diver Stakes and the Del Mar Breeders’ Cup Handicap. The streak continued in 1996 when he won the three grade 1 stakes. But the triple play was just a prelude to what would become his legacy. Later that year Alphabet Soup captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic in a nail-biting race to the finish line. He not only beat the “Invincible” Cigar, Preakness Stakes winner Louis Quartoze, and Belmont winner Editor’s Note, he also set a new track record for 1¼ miles at Woodbine in Canada.
Soup joined Old Friends in 2015, donated to our farm after a breeding career at Adena Springs in Paris, KY. A beautiful gray, he’s one of our most popular residents–a favorite among the nearly 20,000 visitors who come to tour the farm annually. But one day it became apparent that Soup was deeply curious about his neighbor: the darling donkey known as Gorgeous George. He would stare at him all day long as if to say ‘come over and play.’
Because safety is always job one here, our Old Friends Farm managers—who get to learn a lot of equine behavior while caring for over 100 rescued and retired horses daily–first let the duo get to know each other across fence lines. But after a while they decided to introduce them formally and see how it went. It was love! George and Soup are now inseparable, taking care of one another and keeping each other company. Not all stallions would accept a donkey gelding in their space, but they formed a bond that can overcome any challenge. Who says you can’t teach an old horse new tricks?
Visit Soup and George, Kentucky Derby winners Silver Cham and War Emblem, and all of the retirees at Old Friends by taking a tour, which are available daily by appointment. To book a tour or to make a donation click here or call (502) 863-1775. You can also keep up with the latest on the Old Friends Blog.
Do you have a similar story to share about your furry friends? We would love to hear it in the below comments.