When I spoke to Ric Waldman, Overbrook Farm advisor and manager of stallion operations, about discussing the farm’s final yearling consignment, he asked if I wanted to come to the farm for an in-person interview.
As the end-of-the-summer weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and Overbrook was reaching the end of an era, I thought it appropriate to make some on-site observations of the historic operation.
I had been to Overbrook once before, but I had ridden with a co-worker and hadn’t paid close attention to endless paths and winding roadways that lace through the 2,300-plus acre property. Upon my arrival, I was surprised when the guard at the entrance handed me a map of how to get to the main office. I don’t do well with maps, especially ones with unmarked roads that seem to twist, turn, and veer with no warning.
I ended up on a 15-plus minute self-guided tour of the farm, and as I became more and more lost, the grounds became increasingly beautiful. At one point I happened upon the yearling division, where young horses were being hand-walked and observed by interested parties under a canopy of lovely, towering trees. Several other roads led me past considerable-sized ponds that accented the perfectly manicured fields. After doing a complete loop of the grounds, I somehow ended up back at the main entrance. The guard looked at me, bewildered.
On my second attempt to find the office, with the help of some farm employees, I finally spotted the historic-looking brick building, which is tucked away on its own private drive.
I sat with Waldman, who shared his emotions about the farm’s dispersal of its horses, as well as the end of Storm Cat’s breeding career last year. Unexpectedly, he offered to give me a tour and introduce me to the star stallion, whose portfolio he had managed for the last 18 years.
I followed Waldman in my car as he led me past the quaint brick cottage built decades ago by Overbrook founder William T. Young. The leaves on some of the trees had already faded to yellow and were fluttering down onto the roadway in the early September sunshine.
We drove over a covered bridge, and through a shallow creek that gently flows over a portion of the pathway winding through the woods. Up and down hills, looping this way and that, I was just glad I had a guide that knew the property like the back of his hand.
“We’ve moved (Storm Cat) to a secure area that’s not in the normal path of operations,” Waldman had told me earlier. He wasn’t kidding. After what seemed like about at least five to 10 miles (the entire farm encompasses about 38 miles), we finally arrived at Storm Cat’s private barn, where his groom had just fed him a late lunch.
“This is what used to be Storm Cat’s summer residence,” said Waldman, who proceeded to whistle at the pensioned stallion. “Here, Stormy; come here, Stormy!”
Standing in the middle of his expansive paddock, savoring the plethora of lush grass in his midst, Storm Cat, his dark bay coat heavily dappled, defied his 26 years. He glanced up when he heard Waldman’s voice but didn’t pay us much heed.
After several minutes of coaxing, however, the old boy ambled slowly toward us. Once he got to the fence where we stood, he stuck his head back into his feed bucket, searching for leftovers.
When I asked Waldman if Storm Cat seemed to miss his old job, he smiled. “The real test would be if he smelled mares, or if you ran another stallion in front of him, because he always had to be bred first,” he said. “He would cause quite a ruckus if you took another stallion to the breeding shed before him, so he always was able to breed first because of that. My guess is now he’d probably react (to the situation) and then get over it.”
I was warned not to get too close to “Stormy,” as he’s been known to sometimes try and take a bite out of observers standing near his fence. I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos with him before going on my way, however. Storm Cat close-up. Photo by Esther Marr
“He looks great, and he’s enjoying life,” said Waldman.
From the looks of his surroundings, who could argue with that?
Esther Marr is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse.