Visiting the Park
How long should I plan to visit the park?
Most guests find it takes 3-5 hours to experience the park’s attractions during the main season. Many factors can impact this estimation, however, including weather, time of year, and other events that may be occurring on the park grounds. Those who partake in the trail riding or attractions will need to allow extra time, as well. We suggest viewing the daily schedule before your visit to make the most of your time.
How much of the park is indoors?
As a real working horse farm and show facility, most of the park attractions are outside. The Visitor Information Center (with gift shop and movie theater), the International Museum of the Horse, the American Saddlebred Museum & Gift Shop, and restaurant are all indoor facilities with air-conditioning, sitting areas and restrooms.
How can I receive first aid while on park grounds?
The Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police are first responders to emergency first aid situations on park grounds. Visitors who need immediate medical attention should call 911 first, but may also call the on-duty officer (859-509-1450), or may contact the nearest park employee to request assistance for less serious or non-emergency situations.
What if it rains?
True horse people don’t let a little bit of rain stop them, and neither do we. Park activities and shows will take place as usual unless severe weather threatens. If we do experience, or expect to receive, severe weather, we will do everything we can to alter or move a show, or make other accommodations. If there has been recent bad weather that makes the riding trails hazardous, then our horseback rides may be temporarily suspended even if the weather is good on the day of your visit.
Are pets allowed at the park?
Domestic pets are welcome to accompany their owners on park grounds, either on a leash or confined to an approved kennel, providing that the owners clean up after their pets. Sorry, pets are not permitted in the museum exhibits area (lobbies are okay), Iron Works Café (covered patio is okay), and the Alltech Arena. Please DO NOT leave pets in cars unattended for any reason.
Is there a lot of walking?
The main tourist area of the park is situated just off the main parking lot and all of the visitor attractions are within walking distance of each other. While there are some hilly inclines, and turf terrain off of the sidewalk paths, there are no steps.
Can I drive on the grounds?
Visitors are not allowed to drive through the main tourist attractions area of the park. Horse show participants are allowed access to the competition facilities on the back side of the park.
Are bikes or golf carts allowed in the tourist attraction area?
Bikes and golf carts are not allowed in the tourist attraction area. The Kentucky Horse Park recently updated it’s approved shared pathways making park grounds and it’s roads/paths safer for everyone to enjoy. Please view the Shared Pathways page to learn more about the approved paths for cyclists, pedestrians, and golf carts.
About the Horses
Are there live horses at the Park?
Yes! The park is home to some 100 horses representing more than 25 different breeds during our main summer season. These horses are divided between the Mounted Police Barn, Breeds Barn. Big Barn, Hall of Champions, and the horseback trail ride barn. They are not all in their barn daily. Our equine team rotates the horses in the barns and presentations to provide the best care possible for our horses. Literally thousands of additional horses ship into the park to compete in horse shows throughout the year. We have fewer horses in the winter season since some horses, on loan from different owners across the United States and Canada, go home at the end of the season.
Can we pet any of the horses?
There are a number of opportunities where visitors will be invited by handlers to pet our horses. Please listen to our equine team on how to pet their horse properly. Please do not put your hands into horse stalls. (Your fingers may look like carrots!)
Who owns the horses that live on the park?
The horses that live at the park come from a variety of sources. Many of the horses are on loan from their owners for a specific amount of time. The loan of horses by owners, breeders or associations allows the park to present a large variety of breeds and types of horses for our visitors to see. In some instances, horses may be donated to the park. Some horses are purchased by the park according to need, often through funding from generous donors.
What happens when horses are ready to retire from their duties performing and working in the various equine areas of the KHP?
At the Kentucky Horse Park, our horses are our family, so their health and happiness is our utmost concern. If a horse reaches retirement age, or for any reason can no longer perform its normal duties, its original owner is contacted to initiate a return home. If the original owner is unable or unwilling to take back the horse, then the park finds a suitable adopted home. Most horses do not do well without a job, if only as a family pet and need one-on-one attention. Horses with special needs, making them unsuitable for normal adoptions, are often adopted by individuals who had cared for them at the park. In some cases, the best option is for the horse to remain at the park for the remainder of its life, many times performing a much less stressful job such as being petted and groomed in our Kids Barn.
Are there famous horses buried at the park?
The great Man o’ War, the most famous Thoroughbred race horse of the 20th century, is buried at the park in a memorial with a statue dedicated to his life. Buried with him are some of his offspring, including Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who was upset by Seabiscuit in their famous match race in 1938. Other famous horses buried at the park can be found at the park’s Hall of Champions and include: Thoroughbreds Forego, Bold Forbes, John Henry, Alysheba and Kona Gold; Standardbreds Rambling Willie and Cam Fella; Saddlebred show horses CH Imperator, CH Sky Watch and CH Gypsy Supreme; and, Quarter Horse racehorses Sgt. Pepper Feature and Tailor Fit. The great European race mare Allez France is also buried at the park, as is the European Steeplechaser, Jay Trump. A complete listing of all horses buried at the park can be found under Park Memorials.
Does the whole horse get buried?
Many guests have heard that some only bury the head, the heart and the hooves of a horse, and have the rest of the horse cremated so that the ashes can be scattered over the farm. The head represents the horse’s intelligence and personality; the heart represents the spirit or will to win; and, the hooves represent their speed or agility. Horses here at the Kentucky Horse Park are buried in their entirety.
This may have been a tradition well before the industrial revolution, when heavy machinery was not available to bury livestock, and rendering of livestock was common. Although it is possible a horse owner may have requested certain “parts” to be returned from the renderer, it was not common practice for a farmer/horse owner to treat a beloved equine in this manner, even in death.
The “head, heart, hooves” story just doesn’t reflect reality. It’s become a gruesome trope that misleads the general public about the proper way to “respect” and “honor” an otherwise respected animal.
Here at the Park, we never disrespect the body of a deceased equine. Horses that pass away are treated with dignity and honor. They are either buried whole, or cremated and interred in a place of honor.
About the Park
Who owns the park, and how many people work there?
The Kentucky Horse Park is owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and is one of many agencies within the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. There are approximately 77 full-time and 43 seasonal staff that work for the Kentucky Horse Park itself. Approximately 400 people work in the various businesses or organizations of the National Horse Center, or as service providers on the grounds.
How old is the park?
The park hosted its first big event, the World Three-Day Championships, in September 1978, but the park officially opened to the public in November 1978.
How big is the park?
The park covers 1,229 acres of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass. This land provides space for the park’s tourist attractions, competition facilities, 260-site resort campground, and offices of more than 30 national and regional equine organizations and associations, as well as open farmland for pastures for our beloved horses.