On a high from our fabulous tour of Three Chimneys Farm, James and I booked a tour of Ashford Stud (same type of farm as Three Chimneys). This tour was a little different in that it was free (woo!), but it was very quick and informal (boo!).
It took us forever to find this place. There were multiple gates and entry ways for Ashford, but we were looking for one where we could…umm…actually get through as everything was locked up tight!
We finally found a gate with a call-box outside and were able to sweet talk the receptionist into still letting us in (we were a few minutes late). We were instructed to pull our car all the way down to this small building in the back and wait for the guide. The drive down was absolutely gorgeous. Large maples and oaks lined the driveway and the fields and shrubs, everything, was perfectly manicured.
There was only one other person in our tour, a sweet older man who had driven down from North Dakota to visit Lexington. (This prompted me to give James “the look.” See, James? I’m not the only horse crazy person out there who’s willing to drive hours to see horses when I already have a bunch back home). It’s a totally normal thing to do.
The tour guide came to meet us and he was rather gruff and unfriendly. He was from Ireland, and his accent was so thick, I had trouble understanding him. No matter – I just wanted to play nosey tourist and stick my head into every stall in every barn.
He led us into a few barns which housed some retired racehorse greats, and told us a little about each. We met Thunder Gulch, Giant’s Causeway, Dunkirk, and Fusaichi Pegasus, among others.
Since our guide wasn’t the nicest, I figured I should just go ahead and ask if I could pet one of the horses, (I felt like he couldn’t like us any less at this point)…and he promptly replied “no” with no explanation. I was about to get all pompous on him (well I have an off-the-track Thoroughbred at home…), but it seemed like a lost cause with Mr. Friendly.
I can’t remember the exact amount of property Ashford Stud encompassed (a couple hundred acres, easy), but we were told that two groundskeepers cut grass constantly, 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to keep the place as well-groomed as it appeared. Interestingly, during our entire trip, we never saw anyone at any farm doing this type of landscaping work…it was as if these places just maintained themselves.
Regardless of Mr. Friendly, we still enjoyed meeting the horses and talking to our new friend from North Dakota. In comparison to Three Chimneys, this tour was somewhat disappointing, but it was free, so no complaints.
PS – interesting side note…Ashford Stud was used in the movie Dreamer. When Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning visit a farm in search of a mate for their mare, Sonyador, they were walking through the same barns we were in!