Visiting farms is a great way to see stallions like Noble Mission. (Photos by Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Oct. 12 is National Farmers Day in the United States, a day that acknowledges some of the hardest working people in the country. In celebration of the day and those who work on farms in horse racing, here are some things to know about farms and what you should know before going to visit them.
1. They are some of the most beautiful places in the world: I swear farms hire the best landscapers around because I’ve never seen a bad looking Thoroughbred farm.
2. There’s always a chance to see a future star: I still remember going to Vinery Farm and seeing multiple Grade 1 winner Constitution hanging out with a few pasture mates as a baby. You never know if that young horse you see in the field is the next racing superstar.
CONSTITUTION (second from right) WITH HIS HERDMATES
3. They are nice enough to open their doors to fans: If you want to visit one of your favorite horses, call the farm he or she is located at. Many of the bigger farms have tours or will allow fans to come see their favorite horses. Remember, if you are scheduling a tour with the hopes of seeing your favorite stallion, request a visit with him when you call to make your reservation.
4. Don’t forget your camera when visiting: There are a lot of things to see at the farms and you’ll want to relive the tour every time you share that experience with your friends.
HORSES AREN'T THE ONLY THINGS FARMS HOUSE
5. Asking questions is encouraged: If you’re wondering why a stallion is wearing something or what a picture on the wall is of, feel free to ask the person guiding you around the farm. More than likely, you’re not the only one in the group who wants to know the answer. This is also the perfect time to learn more about the sport you love.
6. You’re visiting a working farm: Everything you see is what happens every day on the farm. So you’re not only seeing your favorite horses, you’re also seeing what goes into the care to keep them in tip-top shape. Also remember that the horses can get a little playful, so don’t stick your hands in stalls or pet them unless you are given permission.
TOURS ALLOW YOU TO SEE HOW FARMS OPERATE
7. It’s a great outdoor activity: If you like the outdoors and horses, farm tours are perfect. Unless the weather is bad, you will probably spend at least a part of the tour outside. And even when you are under a roof, it is probably attached to a barn so it’s a win-win.
8. Sometimes you run into familiar figures in the sport: If you go to a stallion open house (Remember to follow the advice Charlie Boden shared in this article when visiting) you can run into some of the top breeders and owners in the sport. It’s not uncommon to see a former owner stopping by to see a stallion they used to own or a well-known mare owner seeing potential mates for his or her Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner.
9. Make appointments: Unless you are going to one of the open houses that don’t ask visitors to RSVP, make sure that you schedule your tour more than a day in advance. If you show up with no reservation, chances are you won’t be able to see anything. Like said above, the farms aren’t just showplaces, they are working farms and have a pretty strict schedule they have to stick to.
10. Driving in farm country transports you back to another time: In the Lexington area if you drive down a backroad, chances are you’ll drive past horse farms and stone walls. For me, those drives make me feel like I’m living back when horses were used for everything. The tree-lined roads make it easy for me to imagine horse-drawn carriages traveling down these same roads.
11. Pro advice: If you’re visiting a farm, remember to tip the tour guide and grooms showing you the horses. It’s a common courtesy that is much appreciated by those on the farms. Keeping horses happy and healthy is a 365-day-a-year job and grooms miss holidays and other important days with family to take care of their charges.
12. Most of all, remember to have fun! You don’t often get the chance to see horses as closely as you’ll see them when visiting a farm so enjoy every minute of it.
Do you have more things people should remember about horse farms? Share your tips in the comments!