If you’re traveling to Lexington, Kentucky anytime soon, you’ll want to put the Kentucky Horse Park on your must-see list. The 1,200-acre park is located off of Hwy, 1973 and I-75 in the heart of Lexington, and is the only known horse theme park in America. The park is a working horse farm, educational park and equine competition facility. Incidentally, the drive to the park is breathtaking and filled with horse farms with rolling hills and grazing horses.
Memorial to Man o’ War A Most Famous Racehorse
We visited the park last week and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of horses and horseracing. Once you enter the gates to make your way to the Visitor’s Center, you’ll see beautiful grounds and moments dedicated to Kentucky’s horse industry. To the left is the statue and grave of Man o’ War considered one of the most famous racehorses in America. Known as Big Red, he was sold to his owner, Samuel Riddle, for $5,000 and went on to win 20 out of 21 races. His owner didn’t race him in the Kentucky Derby, if he had, some believe he would have won the Triple Crown. Man o’ War did sire War Admiral who was a Triple Crown winner.
History of Horses
It’s at the Visitor’s Center is where you will buy your ticket for the day. You also will find the gift shop and the International Museum of the Horse. The International Museum of the Horse depicts the history and importance of horses and the impact they have made on human civilization. There are three additional museums at the Horse Park; the Saddlebred that gives the history of the American made horse and has a 2400 volume research library, the Al-Marah Arabian Horse Museum and the Wheeler Museum which displays equestrian memorabilia.
The Kentucky Horse Park
If you choose to forgo the museums then you must catch some of the horse events. There’s a horse-drawn trolley, The Hall of Champions, where you can meet Kentucky Derby winners, a Draft Horse demonstration, Parade of Breeds and Groom & Shine for kids in the Big Barn. The former Kentucky Derby winners are a must-see!
Hall of Champions
During our visit, we saw Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, Western Dreamer, who won the 1997 U.S. Pacing Triple Crown and Point Given who won four races in a row including the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes at the Hall of Champions.
Parade of Breeds
Another fun and educational event at the Horse Park is the Parade of Breeds. This event included the American Saddlebred, an Arabian, the Gypsy Vanner, the Tennessee Walking Horse, the American Faso Pino, the Friesian and the Hanovarian breeds. After the performance, you will get to pet the horses. We found that the horses thoroughly enjoy meeting and greeting visitors.
Big Barn Draft Horses
If you want to learn horse care, you’re in luck! The Draft Horse demonstration, you will learn about show prep, harnessing and breed history. You also will get to meet and greet the horses at this event.
Here your children will learn which tools are used to groom and care for horses. They will then get to groom the horses themselves.
Horseback and Pony Rides
In addition to the horse events, there are horseback and pony rides at the park. Riders must be seven years old and four feet tall to ride the horses. Pony rides are for children two through 12 and who are under 90 pounds. The horseback rides are 30-minutes long and on a guided trail ride.
If you’re looking for other things to do at the park, there also is a summer camp series for children and Horse Country Farm tours. The park also hosts several special events throughout the year.
However, to take in all that the Horse Park has to offer, you should plan to visit for two days. Currently, the park offers free next day entry with a paid receipt from the day before. To plan your visit and for pricing information visit www.kyhorsepark.com