LEXINGTON, KY (May 20, 2005) By which would you prefer to travel: the jinker, rulley, timwhiskey, barouche, phaeton, fiacre, ekka or droshky? What if you could choose between a britska, tum-tum, calash, dos-a-dos or quadriga? For your 16th birthday would you ask for a karrozzin, herdic, gig or a dennet?
For thousands of years, the vehicle of choice for everyone from peasant and plebeian to patrician and prince was horse-drawn. There were more styles of carriage than breeds of horse.
John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park observed, “Today thousands of people across the country are enjoying a revival of ‘driving’ in horse-drawn vehicles for pleasure, competition and show. That’s why we are happy to welcome driving enthusiasts to the park once again for the Carriage Round-Up June 4-5.”
Horses have pulled humans to their appointments with destiny in every manner of conveyance from surreys, chariots and wagons to carts, coaches and sleighs. Today most people have no contemporary point of reference to this bygone way of life, so we usually have to rely on Hollywood to paint vivid – if not entirely accurate – pictures of the lost, horse-fueled lifestyle.
As transportation evolved and people pushed the envelope with their horse-drawn vehicles, they made some unfortunate discoveries that were critical to human species survival along the way. For instance, carriages don’t work if you work your horse to death (see Gone With The Wind ), chariots don’t float (see The Ten Commandments) and open wagons leave passengers rather vulnerable (Dances With Wolves). They also found that tail-to-nose traffic along muddy, rutty, bumpy trails could leave settlers in Conestogas both tardy (The Donner Party) and queasy (ditto the Donners). On the lighter side, a Sunday trip to church in a quaint, Quaker family buggy could turn as fiercely competitive as the Indy 500 (Friendly Persuasion).
Rudimentary horse-drawn carts (almost any Monty Python) and romantic sleighs (Doctor Zhivago) eventually evolved into elaborate and eccentric coaches (Cinderella). However, by the early 20th century, the romance, adventure, danger and frustrations of carts and coaches had given way to the convenience of Cadillacs and Chryslers. Cue the Carriage Round-Up.
The Carriage Round-Up will involve approximately 200 horses from across the nation in a pleasure-driving weekend. Park visitors will enjoy seeing and learning about a variety of horse-drawn vehicles and the resurgence of driving popularity. Breeds ranging from Draft Horses to Miniature Horses will be involved in everything from 4-in-hand coaching to pony carts. Additional activities include tailgate picnics, clinics, lessons, and educational classes on driving.
For more information on the Carriage Round-Up, June 4-5, contact Charlie Poppe, 513-688-0210 or 513-315-7143.
The park is open from 9 to 5 pm, seven days a week. Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for children ages 7-12 and children six and under are admitted free of charge. Admission includes the Carriage Round-Up and the American Saddlebred Museum.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted more than 900,000 visitors and 15,000 competition horses in 80 special events and horse shows in 2004. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.