Horsin' Around: A Visit to the Kentucky Horse Park
If you occasionally like to spend the day just horsin' around, have I got a place for you! Saddle up and head to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky where you can interact in all sorts of fun ways with the equine creatures.
A visit to the park begins with a scenic drive through the grounds where horses graze and frolic in lush green pastures behind white picket fences and amongst attractive barns. Beware though; you might have to stop for a minute or two at a "horse crossing" if it's time for the animals to have their lunch. This is of course something you're lucky to experience and a great photo opportunity; hop out of the car and watch the magnificent beasts prance to their meal.
A Percheron goes for a walk
Once you're into the center of the park there's a lot to see and do. As to exhibits, there's the International Museum of the Horse, the Arabian Horse Galleries and the American Saddlebred Museum. The Hall of Champions features tributes to famous racehorses including Kentucky Derby winners like Funny Cide and Triple Crown champ Western Dreamer; adjacent to the Hall of Champions is the Memorial Walk of Champions, a leafy lane where champs like Kona Gold, Alysheba and Rambling Willie are buried. Sculptures are scattered throughout the park; some represent the spirit of the horse in general while others are of specific animals, like the monument to Secretariat with jockey Ron Turcotte and groom Eddie Sweet. There's stuff to look at everywhere (including that huge Percheron walking by!) but don't forget to take the time to get up close and personal with some horses.
Horses of the World meet and greet
Visitors to the Kentucky Horse Park have multiple opportunities to interact with the horses. Horse and buggy rides are available and you can saddle up for real and go on a trail ride if you'd like. The park uses all the big breeds for their buggy rides (they call them horse-drawn trolleys here) and you can meet them --- the Shire, the Belgian, the Clydesdale and more --- as they're being groomed and harnassed for their trolley pulling. There's a Parade of Breeds that takes place during the twice-daily presentation of the Horses of the World show; here you'll see breeds like the Arabian, Appaloosa, American Quarter Horse, Suffolk Punch and others trotting and galloping around a show ring with their riders dressed in costuming that reflects the horse's heritage, and you'll see lots of trick riding too. The bleacher-style seating is close enough to the ring that you can really feel the energy as the horses race by. Best of all after the show the riders take the horses to a special meet-and-greet area where you can give your favorite a loving pat and maybe get a nuzzling in return.
Horses of the World show
Man O'War memorial
Late spring/early summer is a good time to go to the Kentucky Horse Park if you'd like to see some young 'uns; mares and their new foals abound that time of year. The park hosts competitive events on a regular basis too; for a schedule of special events and more information on the park, visit www.kyhorsepark.com
To plan your trip to Kentucky, visit www.kentuckytourism.com
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