“The first horse to be tamed changed the world forever.”
These are the words written at the entrance of the International Museum of the Horse in the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, Kentucky.
Truer words couldn’t be posted.
Civilization owes its existence to horses. No exaggeration. Horses allowed the world to evolve, as we know it, good or bad.
Horses changed the course of wars by giving one side mobility advantages.
Horses provided transportation through landscapes before roads existed then, after roads were built, horses carried us long distances before railways connected towns.
Horses cultivated crops, moved cargo, built infrastructure and even delivered mail. The history of the domestication of the horse parallels human history.
The International Museum of the Horse claims status as the world’s most comprehensive of its kind, documenting every century of human history through the evolution of the domestic horse.
The goal of this Smithsonian affiliated, 60,000-square-feet of museum, which opened with the Horse Park in 1978, is to educated people about relationship between humans and horses throughout history.
Begin by climbing the 360-foot spiraling ramp that takes you around this circular museum and you’ll see the following:
- models of Tarpan, ancestor of all modern horses, and Prezwalski
- replicas of early horses full-scale dioramas of horses loaded onto wooden ships bound for the new world
- horses pulling regal British royal carriages
- and even photos of Canada’s RCMP and the role horses played in the peace keeping of the county and development or our national identity.
Make a special stop near the tour’s end at “Angels for Horses” marking the establishment of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in 1866. Now an advocate for all animals, it began attempting to protect the many horses labouring on city streets. Included among the artifacts is the organization’s original charter.
What’s new in 2017? An exhibition honouring the Kentucky Horse Park’s most celebrated horse: Man O’War who is buried in the property (in a casket, not cremated) under a full-sized bronze statue. 2017 is the 100th anniversary of his birth.
This tribute exhibition will cap a visit to the International Museum of the Horse, before you head out the door to the Kentucky Horse Park and admire the real things.
Check out our visit to the Kentucky Horse Park and all the reasons to take your dog with you, on dogtrotting.net.
Traveling to Kentucky?
Check out these guides books on AMAZON:
The Moon Kentucky Travel Guide (affiliate link) is a comprehensive list of sites throughout the state.
Also, Kentucky Off The Beaten Path guide book (affiliate link) includes the Kentucky Horse Park and Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.
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!
That sounds like a museum I would like to explore. When I was growing up, we used horses to plow our fields. Dad loves to tell stories of all of the horses he owned over the years, how smart they were, how much he loved them, etc. It is amazing how the domestication of horses changed our world. Wonder who the genius was that decided to do that?
That is a good question…
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One that probably has no known answer.
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[…] won by famous thoroughbreds like American Pharoah, a tribute room to Man O War (buried in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington) and even information about thoroughbred retirement and rescues, a significantly […]