LEXINGTON, KY (December 13, 2004) 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. According to the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park, an observer of life in the 1700s commented, "No one walked save a vagabond or a fool."
Horses have pulled humans to their appointments with destiny in every manner of conveyance from surreys, chariots and wagons to carts, coaches and sleighs. 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. Enter the Carriage Association of America (CAA).
Currently headquartered in New Jersey, the CAA has decided to join the hub of national and international equine governing bodies already located in the National Horse Center at the Kentucky Horse Park, accompanying more than a score of equine organizations anchored here. They are tentatively expected to arrive in the spring.
The CAA was founded in 1960 and is the oldest and largest international organization devoted to the preservation and restoration of horse-drawn carriages and sleighs. They have introduced thousands of people to the wonders of collecting these vehicles and the pleasures of driving them, while helping people “discover the beauty and charm of a lifestyle that has all but vanished from our modern world.”
John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park commented, “We are just thrilled that the CAA has chosen our park for their headquarters. Their new facility will be located in an existing structure, which is being retrofitted to accommodate their offices, conference room, display area and gift shop. Once again, we can be proud that park has drawn another nationally-recognized organization to Kentucky and to the National Horse Center.
“Today thousands of people across the country are enjoying a revival of ‘driving’ in horse-drawn vehicles for pleasure, competition and show. Driving enthusiasts in Kentucky already flock to the Kentucky Horse Park and other scenic spots around the state for driving excursions. Now we’ll attract CAA members from around the country to our state as well.”
The Kentucky Horse Park already boasts an extensive, permanent collection of carriages on display for the public. Bill Cooke, Director of the International Museum of the Horse stated, “With the arrival of the Carriage Association, renewed emphasis will be placed on the park's own carriage collection. Approximately half of our 49 vehicles came from the collection of Ms. Pansy Yount, matron of Spindletop farm, and is representative of carriages, sleighs and competition vehicles from the late 19th century. Since opening in 1978, the park museum has enlarged the collection with the addition of significant American vehicles such as a Conestoga wagon and one of the finest and earliest Concord coaches in America.”
For more information on the CAA, go to www.caaonline.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 856-935-1616. For information on the Kentucky Horse Park’s permanent collection of carriages, email email@example.com or call 859-233-4303.
Winter Season Hours and Rates: From November 1-March 14, park admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children 7-12. Children six and under are always admitted free of charge. Open from 9 am until 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission includes 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 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. 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.