If you doubt the Kentucky Horse Park’s reverence for all things equine (especially race horses) look up … way up. Near the park’s entrance stands the looming full-size bronze statue of Man O’ War, on a stone base surrounded by a circular garden and narrow water motte. To photograph the statue of this great racer, lean back and clouds will halo his bronze head.
Born in 1917, Man O War is one of the greatest thoroughbred racehorses ever. Shortly after World War I, the horse won 20 out of 21 races and he’s proudly Kentucky born. The stallion is buried at the Kentucky Horse Park, surrounded by several of his successful thoroughbred offspring.
If you love horses, museums and a day outside, a road trip to the Kentucky Horse Park is one pilgrimage you need to take, especially if there’s an event scheduled. The facility is part well-groomed living museum, and part equestrian event facility complete with tracks, arenas and rings.
Horse competitions including racing, dressage, jumping and Western roping are held here throughout the year. Even if it’s not an event day – as was the case when I was there – there’s enough outside to make a day of it.
My favourite thing? Real live horses, of course. Get there in time for the Breeds of the World show at the Breed Barn. Here beautiful examples of horse breeds live like living artifacts and tributes to the diversity of this powerful, graceful animal.
Twice a day in the summer, costumed riders (if it’s not too hot) canter some of the most adored breeds from around the world while a commentator educates the viewers. On the roster the day I visited: a white Spanish Andalusian; a feathered Gypsy Vanner, so called for pulling the caravans of European Gypsies; a majestic black Friesian from the Netherlands; crowd favourite the American Appaloosa, and a sleek Arabian, clearly named for its region of origin.
Breeds of the World Show:
About 90 horses live at The Kentucky Horse Park, some Breeds of the World, some are friendly Paints and miniatures grazing as guest ambassadors. Others retired racers.
That’s right. It’s not Lexington, horse capital of North America, without racers. If you missed your beloved thoroughbred (or Standardbred) on the Breeds of the World list, never fear – your fix is at the other end of the park.
End your day at the Parade of Champions – a circular viewing ring attached to the stables of beloved retired racehorses. First, watch a short video of the horses amazing accomplishments – such as Funny Cide and Go for Gin who won the Kentucky Derby in 2003 and 1994. Then these specific winners, now living a life of leisure, parade into a ring to be admired, cooed over and photographed.
And that’s just outside at the park. Up next: Inside the museums of the Kentucky Horse Park.
Check out my day at the Kentucky Horse Park with my dog on dogtrotting.net.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a link above and then make a purchase, horsetrotting.net will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you. Cheers!