A chronological exhibit that leads visitors through five million years of equine history, Legacy of the Horse is the signature exhibit of the International Museum of the Horse. Beginning with the evolutionary history of the horse, the exhibit then moves on to the domestication of the horse and its use by the earliest civilizations. Visitors then learn about the expanding role of the horse throughout the Old World, how the horse was reintroduced to the Americas, and about the “Golden Age” of the horse in the nineteenth century.
The African American contribution to the rise of Thoroughbred racing as the nation’s most popular sport of the 19th century is undeniable. The story of the Black experience in the stables of the South and on the country’s tracks goes far beyond sport, offering a microcosm of the country itself and the difficult issues it faced. Human slavery, reconstruction and the repressive Jim Crow legislation still haunt this country today. This exhibit tells the story of the African American experience in the stables and on the tracks here in Kentucky.
With each passing year, access to these stories is disappearing, which is why the International Museum of the Horse has developed the Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry. This project aims to document and archive the history of African Americans in the horse industry, expand knowledge of the people, places, and events, and interpret these experiences as included in the fabric of American history.
The draft horse has played a pivotal role in humankind’s agricultural and industrial history. This exhibit contains decorative horse tack, polychrome wood carvings, and historical photographs that illustrate the changing role of the draft horse over time.
An exploration of the contemporary uses of the horse in recreational activities, Horse in Sport features sections devoted to rodeo, polo, thoroughbred racing, standardbred racing, and more. The exhibit was renovated in the summer of 2010 and now features a major section devoted to the eight disciplines of the World Equestrian Games, which the Kentucky Horse Park hosted in 2010.
The National Horse Show has been a showcase for excellence in American equestrian sport since its debut in 1883 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. This exhibit showcases the show’s collection of trophies and highlights the events and people who made it the premier horse show in the U.S. As America’s oldest indoor horse show, it is firmly established as a major fixture on the national and international sports and social event calendars. In 2011, the National Horse Show moved to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Opened in 2010, the Al-Marah Arabian Horse Gallery is an exciting exhibit that utilizes both interactive technology and historical art and artifacts to teach visitors about the history of the Arabian horse. Beginning with the earliest domestication of the Arabian in the Middle East, the exhibit follows the breed through history as it spread across the world to Europe and, eventually, the United States.
The 560 Thoroughbred racing trophies contained in the Calumet Farm Collection represent an incomparable achievement in the history of horse racing. For five decades, beginning in 1932, Calumet recorded over 2,400 wins, with total earnings of over 26 million. This exhibit features many of Calumet’s most stunning trophies, along with original oil paintings of the farm’s greatest horses.
In 1978, Affirmed became the third horse of the decade and the last horse to win the elusive Triple Crown until American Pharoah in 2015. His duels with Calumet Farm’s Alydar stand as perhaps the greatest rivalry in the history of American racing.
The exhibition features his entire racing trophy collection, including his Triple Crown trophies, his racing silks, blanket, halter, numerous photos, and jewelry belonging to Mrs. Wolfson, custom-made in celebration of Affirmed’s wins.
The Museum’s horse-drawn vehicles collection is built around the thirty-four-piece Pansy Young Grant Spindletop Farm collection, donated by the University of Kentucky in 1977. Over the years, additional vehicles have been added, placing this among the finest collection of American vehicles in the country.