Whether you own horses, ride them, or just plain love them, the Kentucky Horse Park is the place for you. I have visited twice—once five years ago and again on July 16! Although not much about the park itself seems to physically change, it is always interesting whether there is a special event or not. They do tours of the park with horse-drawn trolleys, there is a basic beginner trail ride around the park, and there is the museum on the history of the horse, just to name a few activities. There weren’t any special events or shows happening when I was there, but I did see all of the major parts of the park.
The grounds are picturesque; rolling hills, green grass, and pasture fencing everywhere you look. The whole place is around 1,400 acres, and you can see some of the outdoor Dressage arenas before you even pull into the park. Right before you enter the visitor’s center, there is an adorable statue of two foals, shown in the picture above. To the right, there is a memorial to Secretariat and to the left is where Man O’War is now buried, as well as one of his offspring, Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
There is an educational kids’ barn which doesn’t actually have horses in it, and the Mounted Police Barn was empty that day. My next stop was the Hall of Champions, which houses some very famous horses (hence the name!). Only about four of the horses were in at the time, but I did get to see famous racehorse Funny Cide, who was thoroughly enjoying his stall fans and a good nap. Next to him is a horse named Point Given, who has won some very prestigious races. This horse was actually interested in getting some love, so I spent some time petting him through his stall door. He was so sweet!
The next stop was the Breeds Barn. This is a great place to see many unique breeds of horses that are hard to find. Of course there are the more common breeds, like American Quarter Horses, but there are some breeds that you don’t see very often in the United States. For example, there are two Marwari horses that currently live there, and the Kentucky Horse Park is the only place that I have ever seen that breed in person. There is a beautiful American Cream Draft mare named Sugar Cookie, and not only is she incredibly unique-looking, she is also very sweet. There is a Parade of Breeds show, which I did not see this trip, but five years ago I saw part of it and it’s a fantastic show. They do a great job of showcasing each breed in an entertaining way.
The Big Barn is my absolute favorite part of the park (besides the arenas that make me green with envy). This is the barn that houses the draft horses and the horses that pull the trolleys for the trolley tour. There are Percherons, Clydesdales, Belgians, and I saw one Hackney. I fell in love with one of the Percherons, a large horse named Gus, and we became fast friends. Honestly if I could have bought this horse, I would, because he’s gorgeous, sweet, and well-behaved. I also made friends with a Clydesdale, who’s name I unfortunately did not get, but was also just sweet as pie. There was a 2200 lbs Belgian Draft that was very appreciative of some neck scratches as well.
There is a lot of interesting information inside the museum. They tell you all about the history of the horse, including it’s domestication and major events that brought us to where we are today. I recommend doing this on your way out of the park because it’s air conditioned! As you exit the park, you can see two giant chairs sitting off to the side with a small pathway leading up to them. These used to be the end pieces to a cross country jump called the Giant’s Table.
All in all, the Kentucky Horse Park is the place to visit if you love horses. It’s got something for everyone and it really doesn’t matter what discipline you ride or if you even ride at all—it’s just a place where horses are loved, appreciated, showcased and preserved. There is usually some kind of event or show there but it’s good to check the website to see what’s going on, and you can do that here.