We arrived in Lexington on Tuesday and settled into our site at the campground which is a part of the Kentucky Horse Park. It is quite spacious here and covered in green grass everywhere as you might expect. All sites and interior roads are paved and there are mature trees everywhere....all these things make this a really nice place to be. We checked out the visitor center and got the lay of the land on Tuesday with plans to go into the park on Wednesday and go on a horse farm tour on Thursday. We have been dodging rain drops here but that must be normal....did I mention all the beautiful grass?
From the moment you drive into the gate, you know you are in horse country. Beautiful rolling hills, fences, grass and horses abound. The park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility owned and run by the state and exists to educate people about horses. And it does a good job of that. Once you have paid the entry fee you are free to wander and take advantage of presenations, museums and riding if you like.
First on our agenda Wednesday was the Hall of Champions....
This is where great racing horses retire. Now their only job is to be beautiful, live in a way classy barn and be fawned over by people like us. And they seem to enjoy it as much as we do. Racing horses are finished racing after about 7 years so they get to spend the rest of their lives (another 20 years or so) being groomed, romping in the paddock, breeding (a breeze if you are a stallion, hard...constant work if you are a mare) and just generally being adored if you are a big winner. I am sure there are racing horses that don't have as cushy a retirement, but the ones we saw have a life to rival the one at the Landings....
At the Hall of Champions several horses were brought out one at a time after an introduction that included video of some of their spectacular races. These are all famous horses that have great resumes. The girl doing the introductions gave such great rundowns of their greatest races, health history, and personality traits, etc. that you could not help feel affection for these beautiful animals. Before and after the formal presentation, you are allowed to visit their barn and talk to horses and the people there.
We saw Go For Gin and Funny Cide, both Kentucky Derby winners.
And Be a Bono was the World Champion Racing Quarter Horse of 2004. Da Hoss is a thouroughbred that despite a couple injuries earned the name The Comeback Kid for his win at the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile.
And Cigar was the Racehorse of the Decade in the 90s and retired as the all time leading money winner in 1996.
Not far away from the Hall of Champions is the arena where the World of Horses show is performed.
Half a dozen of the horses stabled in this area are brought out with rider and horse decorated to represent the part of the world it comes from.....
Who knew there were so many different breeds of horses? And each with a interesting background.
The riders and horses put on a choreographed show while each horses' colorful origin is discussed.
As with most areas of the park, you are able to wander around before and after the show, look in the stalls and ask questions.
After lunch we visited the International Museum or the Horse and all I can say is WOW.
I didn't know much about horses before my visit....I know more now....but there is so much more I don't know!
The horse plays a big part in most achievements man can claim.
The museum starts with the first origins of what we know as the horse and more or less follows a timeline through history covering their impact on civilization.
There is lots of information here so pace yourself....it's fascinating.