Department of Tourism
Many Kinds of Horse Events and Activities Start in April Around Kentucky
Spring officially begins March 20, and Kentucky awakes to green fields, redbuds, dogwoods and horses! Horse lovers young and old will find activities coming in April that will entertain and educate right in your own back yard.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008, the Kentucky Horse Park just off I-75 Exit 120 in Lexington begins its full season of activities beginning March 15. Enjoy the sounds and excitement of the show ring during the Parade of Breeds staged twice daily. Riders in authentic dress put selected breeds through their paces. Tour the Draft Horse barn and see why the Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons, English Shires, Haflingers, Suffolks and Mammoth Mules are the “gentle giants” that pull the Park’s trolleys. The Hall of Champions program will let you photograph real racetrack champions that are living the good life of retirement at the Horse Park.
The International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum are also included in your admission price. A huge carriage display, the silver trophies from the glory days of Calumet Farms and the new permanent exhibit honoring Affirmed, the third horse of the 70s and the last horse to win the elusive Triple Crown, are just a few of the many exhibits to enjoy. Both the International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum are in the process of major expansions.
The Horse Park is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 15 to Oct. 31. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children 7 – 12 years, six and under are free. Parking is $3.00 per day. Check website for winter hours and seasonal passes. http://www.kyhorsepark.com/, 800-678-8813.
Are you ready for some Thoroughbred racing? Keeneland begins its spring meet on April 4. Don’t miss the excitement of thoroughbred racing at one of the most beautiful historic tracks in the country. Start your day on Saturday during the meet with Breakfast with the Works. Watch the Thoroughbreds work out and listen to trackside commentary as your family dines in the Equestrian Dining Room from 7:00 – 8:30 a.m. for just $5.00 apiece. There are free children’s activities and live demonstrations at 8:45 in the Paddock. At 11:30 a.m. attend a free handicapping seminar—it just might improve your wagering skills.
You may not have a million dollars to purchase a two year old, but you can still enjoy the excitement of the sales. On April 8 and 9 beginning at 7 p.m. each night, Keeneland will host the Two-Year-Old-in-Training Sale.
During the spring and fall meet is not the only time you can enjoy Keeneland. It is open year round so you can enjoy watching the workouts, breakfast at the Track Kitchen and touring the grounds throughout the year. Keeneland’s 2008 spring meet runs through April 25 with no racing on Monday or Tuesday. www.keeneland.com.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an Olympic champion? Visit the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park and see for yourself the skill and agility of both horse and rider. The ability to train and test at a Four Star level on an annual basis at the Rolex is a precursor to many for the World Championships and Olympic Games. At the Rolex, which is the first three-day eventing competition of the year on the international calendar, you can enjoy watching dressage, cross-county and jumping. These are considered the triathlon of the equine world. Dates: April 24 – 27, 2008,
If you are interested in a little shopping, then you will not want to miss the Sponsor Village and Trade Fair. With more than 175 merchants, corporate sponsors and food vendors, you will find the perfect horse related designer and sport clothing, accessories, paintings, prints, jewelry and gift items. http://www.rk3de.org/index.php.
At the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Harrodsburg, the Spring Jubilee Charity Walking Horse Show sponsored by the Kentucky Walking Horse Association Ladies Auxiliary and the Mercer County Fair is scheduled for April 17-19. Again this year, the show will feature Saddlebreds, Walking Horses, Road Horses and ponies. Enjoy the opportunity to view the various breeds as approximately 400 entries will be featured during the event.
This is the eighteenth year that the show will benefit the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, a non-profit organization established to provide horseback riding for therapeutic purposes and social and recreational activities. The program has proven highly successful in helping people with a wide range of disabilities to develop self-esteem, confidence, coordination and a sense of achievement while learning horsemanship, tack and riding principles. The show begins at 7 pm on Thursday, April 17; 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. 859-734-2364. www.kywha.com
Ready to get back on your own horse and rides some trails? Try the Wranglers Campground at Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky. This campground offers stalls, tack and farrier service, hitching and tethering posts and water troughs for your mount while providing amities of camping Shelters, primitive or electric campsites, picnic tables, food concessions, clean showers and restrooms and an activities court for riders. This beautiful area located between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake offers almost 100 miles of horse and wagon trails and abandoned logging roads for year round riding.
Don’t own your own horse? No problem. Equine Adventures (open April through November) allows you to schedule a guided horseback ride. For more information, call Land Between the Lakes, 270-924-2000, or Equine Adventures, 270-924-2211. www.lbl.org
Five of the state parks also have horse trails that are open year round for use with you personal horse. At the trail head, the parks provide parking, tie up and water. These parks are: Greenbo Lake, Carter Caves, Dale Hollow, Green River and Taylorsville.
State parks that provide short trail rides through concessions from Memorial Day through Labor Day are Kentucky Dam Village, Barren River, Lake Cumberland, Carter Caves and Cumberland Falls. And horse camping is available at Taylorsville Lake and Dale Hollow State Resort Park. Visit www.parks.ky.gov/
This “Discover Your Own Back Yard” travel column is produced twice monthly by the Department of Tourism to help promote Kentucky events and travel destinations. For more information about these and other tourism opportunities, visit www.kentuckytourism.com
For photos to accompany this article, please contact Marge Bateman at 502-564-4930.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy