Day Trip to the Kentucky Horse Park

While trail riding at Big South Fork Recreation Area in Tennessee, hurricane rains prompted the author and friends to stay dry and take a day trip to Lexington, Kentucky.

by Susan St. Amand

Read Part I about Trail Riding at Big South Fork Recreation Area in Tennessee.

We drove three hours to Lexington, Kentucky, also known as the Horse Capital of the World, to visit the Kentucky Horse Park. This is a huge park that opened in 1978 and worth the visit. Plan to spend several hours touring the facility in its entirety.

On the day we visited, there was a huge Paso Fino horse show occurring in the show arena. We observed many beautiful gaited Pasos strutting their stuff. Especially impressive was when they were shown going across the wooden boardwalk and hearing the quick four beat gait of their hooves loudly reverberating on the wood planks. Various horse shows and events occur regularly at the Park.

Kentucky Horse Park Secretariat

Next we visited the Breeds Barn where many different horse breeds were on display. At the Hall of Champions, we were introduced to 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, Funnycide, 1994 Kentucky Derby winner, Got for Gin, the oldest Derby winner currently alive, as well as Be A Bono, a Quarter Horse ex-racehorse who successfully received stem cell therapy to rebuild his knee and continued racing afterwards. We also met Won the West, a Standardbred harness pacer who earned over 4 million dollars in earnings, one of the highest in history as well as holding the fastest mile record of 1:47 minutes as a pacer.

Kentucky Horse Park Be a Bono

Another interesting building was the Showplace for Saddlebreds, addressing the history of the Saddlebred as well as showcasing the Saddlebred horse and included a gift shop. A farrier's workshop and tack shop are available for visitors to view demonstrations.

We visited the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian sponsored museum as well as being the world's largest facility dedicated to the history of the horse. This was a very interesting and worthwhile museum to visit.

The museum depicted the evolution of the horse and use over the centuries, as well as different breeds, especially showcasing the Arabian horse, as well as popular Hollywood movie horses such as the Black Stallion and racehorses such as Secretariat.

The museum also depicts the variety of ways horses are used for sports and recreation today. In addition, the museum houses a large gift shop of equine related items and Kentucky keepsakes. Several popular horses are buried at the park such as Man'O'War. Outside of the Kentucky Horse Park borders, many sprawling thoroughbred horse farms with white fences bordering the pastures dot the landscape.

Kentucky Horse Park Museum

On the fifth day, the rains continued with more rainy days in the future forecast, so we decided to cut our stay in the Big South Fork Recreation Area short and head back home to Virginia where the hurricane rains were also pounding the entire Eastern Atlantic states shoreline. Regardless, the Big South Fork Recreation Area of Tennessee is a great place for trail riding and I highly recommend it. I look forward to riding there again sometime in the future.

About the Author: Susan St. Amand is a Board Member of the Shenandoah Trail Riding and Horseman's Association and is employed with the Virginia Cooperative Extension as a 4-H Youth Program Assistant. She grew up in Northern Maine with horses on a farm and has been a transplant to Virginia for the past 25 years. She enjoys planning horse vacations with friends and has completed rides in Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee as well as Virginia, and trailers her own horse.