Dear Friend of the Kentucky Horse Park,
As the new interim executive director of the park, I am pleased to introduce you to a true jewel of Kentucky. The Kentucky Horse Park is like no other place on Earth. The park is more than a home for horses in elegant barns surrounded by white-planked paddocks, just north of Lexington. More than a collection of world-renown competition facilities scattered along the rolling hills of beautiful farmland.
It is the embodiment of an idea – one that makes this corner of the Bluegrass a true “horse heaven” as it is home to several dozen breeds of horses, large and small, ancient and new, all for the sole purpose of introducing you to the special world of the horse.
Horses of all shapes and sizes are awaiting you at the Horses of the World Barn where there are many unique and rare breeds that are presented in daily summer shows, including the Akhal-Teke, Marwari, Luistano, Fjord, Fell Pony, Icelandic, Friesian, Paso Fino, and Kiger Mustang – along with breeds of horse that may be more familiar to the American public, and breeds that are special to Kentucky.
Horse racing has been an iconic sport in the United States for more than 200 years, and Kentucky is home to the most famous race of them all – the Kentucky Derby – held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, about an hour west of Lexington. While the Kentucky Horse Park itself is not a racetrack, the storied history of these grounds includes both Thoroughbred and Standardbred farms here, as well as some of the first horse sales of Kentucky’s famed horse flesh in its Big Barn. The immortal Thoroughbred Man o’ War rests at the entrance of the park welcoming guests today, and the park’s Hall of Champions houses a line-up of modern greats from the worlds of Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing.
Horses participate in more sports and events than racing. At the park, we feature most all of those throughout a typical year. With more than 200 special events and horse shows of every equine breed and discipline available, and more than 18,000 horses coming through the park each year, the park serves as an ambassador for the American equine industry and a showcase for athletes and sporting events of world-class status, like the annual Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, that attracts international competitors and visitors for this Olympic- and World Equestrian Games-qualifying event.
While we may use horses for racing or sport competitions today, mankind has always had a special relationship with the horse since the earliest days of our history and imagination. The horse has helped mankind build the world we have inherited today. Though we are just now more than 100 years removed from their direct influence, human civilization was built on the backs of horses and this amazing story is told through the many exhibits and displays awaiting you in the park’s International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate. Dedicated to all breeds of horse, the museum covers some 50-million years of equine history and is enjoyed by both the experienced horseman and the novice.
There is still more to the park to share with you, but I encourage you to come visit this special place for yourself to see what all we offer. Come in the morning and watch the behind-the-scenes work as handlers bring in horses for the day to feed and bathe them, or watch in the afternoon as they are turned out and promptly roll in the dirt as horses so often do. Horses are family to us, with their own needs and personalities that you will get to experience and enjoy up close and personal.
Big or small, rare Asian breed, or bred and raised just a few miles away, horses and the reverence we have for this magnificent animal makes the Kentucky Horse Park a bit of heaven on Earth. Come explore this special world!
Interim Executive Director
Kentucky Horse Park