Moved from Nashville to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Kentucky.
Most of our drive was on I 65, an ordeal for me, too much traffic, plus the road is bumpy and rutty in spots, although the rest stops are great.
When you drive into Lexington Kentucky, you see prosperity on all sides. And a country side unique to, I think, to Kentucky.
Green pastures inclosed by miles and miles of four rail fencing painted black or white; the majority of barns seem to be painted black. Homes and out buildings are built on knolls with acres of fenced in grass with paddocks all neatly mowed and manicured.
Paddocks typically have this two fence arraignment. The main pasture with sperate fenced in path for rotating stock.
A couple of the horse parks animals taking life easy.
Kentucky Horse Park is a 1200 acre state park consisting of an RV camping area with 260 sites, the largest equestrian museum in the world, and home to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event for Olympic hopefuls seeking a seat on the US Equestrian Team. In 2010, the Kentucky Horse Park will host the Alltech FEI Games, " Kentucky 2010," the World Equestrian championships; the largest equine event in US history.
The RV park is just that; a genuine grass and tree park with parking pads for motor homes and RV's. The pads are separated by 40 to 50 feet of grass with another 50 feet of lawn behind each spot, extending to the opposite side of the parking loop. All sites are back in, with electricity and water, no sewer hookup.
The RV park consists of four elliptical loops, two large outer loops and two smaller loops on the inside. From above, the inner loops resemble a dumbbell connected together with a parking lot for the handle. The outer loops are pushed together on one side of each ellipse, and joined by an entrance road. A compact design.
Looking into one corner of the RV park from the front door of our trailer. This turned out to be a very good place to let Sheila run loose. When the park is full there will be RV's in all those empty spots.
In preparation for this weekends event, porta potties have been brought in and placed in appropriate areas. Other than hard surface parking sites, the RV park has several acres of grassy field which will be used as overflow parking. The overflow area doesn't have water or power, but this won't bother campers looking for the convenience of being so close to the events.
We arrived around 3:00 PM and proceeded to the park store and inquired about a site. Usually, you drive in, find a spot you like and park. However, this weekend with the international Rolex horse show, the park will be full. If you don't have a reservation,you'll be kicked out by Wednesday. This is with out a doubt the premium RV park to be in this weekend. All of the venues for the Rolex event are within walking distance; NBC will be here; a really big show.
Next to the camping area is the part of Kentucky Horse Park with museums and where the horsy events are held. It is a short walk, less than two miles from were we parked. I had intended to walk from our parking site but I couldn't find the gate from the RV park to the event site, so Monday we piled into the pickup and drove all of two miles next door to the visitors center and purchased tickets for the park.
You can spend all day walking the park and visiting the museums, or you can take in scheduled events. We chose to follow the daily schedule of events before taking on the museums.
The first event of the day is called "Meet The Draft Horses." So, we wandered over to the draft horse barn and met them.
They have seven breeds, (Belgians, Percheron, English Shire, Clydesdale, Suffolk, Haflinger and Norwegian Fjord), a total of 27 individual horses, if I remember correctly. There sole job is to pull a trolley a short distance around the park. They only work a few hours a week, on a three day schedule, not as good a professional baseball pitcher; the rest of the time they eat, get groomed, and play in the paddock. Some nice life. But their all good genital guys and I know they deserve the treatment. The working horses are all male, brood mares seem to have unpredictable moods and can be hard to handle. The big guys we saw are pretty mellow; the grooms say they move when you nudge them and are easy to handle.
The two Clydesdales
We watched the horses being groomed and harnessed for the days work and then walked over to the Hall of Champions barn for the days next activity.
Having there hooves scraped and cleaned.
A heavy piece of horse to hang onto. If the horse cooperates, the grooms work is much easier, sometimes, a horse gets lazy then the groom has a lot of weight to contend with.
This groom had it a bit better, she's taller than most of the others. and can almost reach the horses back.
Putting on the harness, which doesn't take more than ten minutes.
We watched the horses being harnessed and hooked up to a trolley, then moseyed over to the Hall of Champions for the next scheduled event.
And it is a hall of champions. Horse owners can stable there champion horses free, including vet fees, for as long as they want. In return, the Kentucky Horse Park, gets to show off the horses to the public; visitors get to see real live champion race horses up close and personal, and even scratch the noses of some. The show arena is a 50 to 60 foot circular arena, resembling a large gazebo; visitors sit on bleachers and admire the champs.
Each horse being shown for the day is brought in and paraded around -- first to the center and then four or five stops around the circle for closer viewing and picture taking. We saw Cigar, The Hoss, and Western Dreamer. One of our favorites, John Henry, has been stabled there for years but he's 32 now and the public can only see him from a distance in his paddock, where he spends most of his time. I got as close as I could and took a couple of shots of the old guy; he is showing his age.
Western Dreamer, harness racer and triple crown winner of harness racing.
John Henry, 32 years old, 106 or so in human years. His groomers say he's as irascible as ever.
The other champion horses are -- CH Gypsy Supreme and Staying Together.
After the showing, a crowd gathered in front of Western Dancer's stall to scratch his nose, which he liked a lot; he does seem quite gentle, and kind of a ham. Where we live in Dammeron Valley, there are lots of horses but none anything like we've seen in the horse park. It's like comparing high school foot ball players to NFL stars, they're literally not in the same league. Of course these horses are coddled and perfectly groomed but there's just something a bit extra, a quality that sets these champions apart.
Western Dreamer getting his just reward.
Next on the schedule was The Parade of Breeds. The breeds barn is built in a square with a show arena in the center. Visitors sit on bleachers and the breeds being shown are ridden one at a time into the arena and galloped around a bit. Riders are dressed in costumes appropriate to the breed. The Kentucky Horse Park currently has 32 breeds, with the acquisition of nine more in the future.
The American Paint.
English Shire, horse and handler decked out in full parade regalia.
Pretty rider on a neat horse.
Marwari, a warrior mount for the Rathores, the rulers of Marwar region in India. A very delicate looking and spirited horse, hard to believe it's used in war.
The Shire is very popular with visitors. He will stand there
and get petted as long as there is someone to pet him.
and get petted as long as there is someone to pet him.
Again, after the show, people gathered around the three horses brought to the rail for everyone to get a better shot or scratch noses. Some horses seem to enjoy the attention and visitors certainly like to touch and pet these big animals.
The last scheduled activity was to be the Mare & Foals Show but there was only one mom and offspring, so the show was called off.
To this point, we had been on our feet for almost three hours, I was getting cranky from hunger, so we broke for lunch. Afterwards, I returned to the truck and checked on Sheila. We could leave her in the trailer but I really think she's happier waiting in the truck rather than hanging out alone in the trailer. I took her a bit of my meat ball and veggie lunch, walked her around and she was ready to get back in the truck. I generally try not to leave her more than a couple of hours at a stretch without checking her out and giving her water and a bit of a run around.
Anyway, next on the agenda, was the International Museum of the Horse. The Kentucky Horse Park entry fee for Johnna and I was $ 24.00, which included a self guided tour of the grounds, all scheduled events and tickets to the American Saddlebred Museum. I would have gladly paid this much just for the International Museum of the Horse.
Excerpted from the Kentucky Horse Park web page:
With over 38,000 square feet of exhibition space, IMH is dedicated to the history of the horse and its unique relationship with humans through time. Permanent museum exhibitions highlight the history of the horse from ancient times to the many popular sporting events of modern times.
Temporary international exhibitions such as "All the Queen's Horses: The Role of the Horse in British History" and “Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History”, provide a distinctive glimpse into specific geographic regions. Contemporary art exhibitions focus on the talents of equine artists around the globe and give talented local equine artists much needed exposure to a worldwide audience.
The museum is well laid out but there is to much to see in one visit so, as usual, I looked at just about everything but paid attention to only a small selection of exhibits.
For a complete look at the museum go to:
Artist depicting the horse in a cave.
An early horse drawn mower.
Part of a hanging banner display.
The next three photos are from a special exhibit, "Pony Expressionism: The Horse as Art."
These are about 3/4 life size fiber glass sculptures, painted by various artists.
Reverse of the painted sculpture above.
Another painted sculpture.
I was impressed with the concept and the art work is outstanding. Other than the large works, there are many smaller painted sculptors.
For more information go to:
One of the many statues on display through out the park.
The final museum for the day was the Saddlebred Museum. American Saddlebred horses are often called "The Horse America Made."
Excerpted from WikipediA:
The American Saddlebred, formerly known as the American Saddle Horse, is a breed of horse that was developed in Kentucky by plantation owners. Today, they are used almost exclusively for saddleseat riding in the show ring, although their uphill build has also begun to draw dressage enthusiasts to the breed. They are also used as barrel racers, hunters, jumpers, and parade mounts.
The museum consists mainly of photos and poster size write ups outlining the history of the American Saddle Horse. For me, the interesting exhibit was a short film titled, "Out of the Shadows," which documents the importance of black horsemen in the development of the saddle horse.
It took us most of the day to visit the park and museums. But, by days end, we both felt it was a day well spent.