Being at the Kentucky Horse Park invokes a sense of pride in being a Kentuckian, whether that title comes from being born and raised in the commonwealth or from moving here from Indiana before the age of six.
Superior college basketball. Bluegrass. Bourbon. Arguably, all things synonymous with Kentucky. Perhaps the most indelible association, though, is with the horse. We cannot think of one without also thinking of the other. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, celebrating its 40th anniversary, honors that connection.
Upon arriving, check the show schedule first to coordinate the day. The museums and indoor attractions will wait, while the outdoor attractions won’t.
Worth seeing is The Parade of Breeds, presentations showcasing different breeds of horses, which are housed in stalls surrounding the show arena. You can expect to see an American Quarter Horse, an American Saddlebred, an Andalusian, an Appaloosa, a Clydesdale and many, many more. Not only that, you can learn the history of each, their strengths and the purposes for which they are best suited.
Another worthwhile event is the Hall of Champions, which allows visitors to sit in an intimate gazebo setting while champion horses are individually escorted to the center and then paraded around so visitors can take a closer look at the magnificent animals. Thoroughbreds Funny Cide and 1994 Kentucky Derby Winner Go for Gin are featured, as are American Quarter Horse Be a Bono and others. The personalities of the horses come through as the staff members share stories and video clips of some of the horses’ best performances.
If you’re a fan of the beautiful draft horse, you will not want to miss the Big Barn, where these are housed. There, you can participate in a meet-and-greet with the animals and, a couple of times a day, you can even take a horse-drawn trolley ride through the park.
In addition to all the interactive, up-close-and-personal opportunities with the beautiful creature best associated with our commonwealth, the horse park features three museums. Naturally, you should expect to see memorabilia, trophies, equipment, artifacts and art. But you will also have the opportunity to try on silks and to catch a glimpse of a draft of the novel, The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley.
Visitors to the Kentucky Horse Park will have access to more than they will ever be able to assimilate. Additionally, with the park celebrating its anniversary, expect the opportunity to enjoy special events, such as family fun nights, vintage market days, horse trials and more. Check out the website, www.kyhorsepark.com before planning your trip.
(Note: Margie Appelman is an English, communications and journalism teacher at Mason County High School and co-founder of the travel blog, Tales from the Trip, which is also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She can be reached at [email protected].)