The International Museum of the Horse. Parade of Breeds Show. Man O' War's Grave. Hall of Champions. The Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) is famous for many things, all in celebration of the history of the relationship between human and horse. But there are a number of things that remain under the radar at this combination working horse farm, educational theme park and international equestrian competition venue, a 1,224-acre landmark attraction located in Lexington and Georgetown, Ky.
Here are seven that may have slipped your notice:
1. The greatest American jockey of all time, Isaac Burns Murphy, is buried at KHP. Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and the first jockey elected to the Hall of Fame. You can visit his gravesite and then learn more about the man who set a standard no other jockey has ever met at the "Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf" exhibit in the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate.
2. You can go horseback riding at Kentucky Horse Park. It's true. Guests ages 7 and up can saddle up for 35-minute trail rides through the park's famous paddocks and little cowpokes can take a few laps on a pony. Visitors can combine exploring park attractions with a horseback ride or reserve a horseback ride only. Rides are offered April through October and advance reservations are required. (See website for ticket prices.)
3. KPH has an original 1931 one-and-a-half-ton REO Speedwagon that was originally used as a horse transport vehicle. Wait – wasn't that a band? Was (and is). The band formed in the 1970s, taking its name from a 1915 truck designed by automotive designing pioneer Ransom Eli Olds. But back to the truck ... It is one of only three left in existence in the world, and the only one from 1931 still in existence of this model chassis. According to marketing director Kerry Howe, Kentucky Horse Park is trying to find someone to help restore the truck to its original glory and welcomes any recommendations.
4. You can see one of the nation's largest wooden structures here: The Big Barn measures 463 feet in length and 74 feet in width. It is home to KHP's largest horses, including Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians, an English Shire and a Suffolk Punch, and where visitors can watch the horses getting groomed and harnessed. A daily meet and greet with the draft horses takes place at 11:30 a.m. in spring, summer and fall.
5. With Buffalo Soldiers buried at the Benevolent Society No. 2 of Lexington and Georgetown's New Zion Cemetery, KHP offers an opportunity learn more about the first peacetime all-Black regiments in the U.S. Army at the "Buffalo Soldiers of the Western Frontier" exhibit in the International Museum of the Horse. Watch a video narrating the origin of the Buffalo Soldiers and check out photographs of nationally significant members of the regiments.
6. The Kentucky Horse Park is home to 30 different equine organizations and businesses that make up the National Horse Center. This includes the United States Equestrian Federation, which is the National Governing Body of equestrian sport in the United States; Central Kentucky Riding for Hope; Kentucky Horse Council; Carriage Museum of America; American Academy of Equine Art; Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; a number of breed associations and others. In other words, it is one busy place.
7. The Kentucky Horse Park came into existence in 1978, but horses have galloped across this land for more than 200 years. History connects it to Patrick "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Henry and Daniel Boone, the first farm in Kentucky to establish a greenhouse and a horse breeder who built the circa 1860s residence now used for KHP offices. Read more about its illustrious timeline on the Park's history page.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
For more information about things to see and do and planning a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park, go to www.kyhorsepark.com. To see changes that have taken place at the Park in light of the pandemic, click www.kyhorsepark.com/visit-khp/park-reopening.
Several area vacation home rentals provide no-contact, social distancing stays:
- Woodland Hills, a 1,200-square-foot basement cabin apartment, sits on 70 country acres 20 minutes north of the Kentucky Horse Park in a tiny town called Sadieville (Airbnb).
- The Buffalo Springs Distillery Company in Stamping Ground, 14 miles north of KHP, is a private retreat tucked in the former main office and gatehouse of the Buffalo Springs Distilling Company – one of the last structures left on the former distillery site that got its start in 1868 (Airbnb).
- Georgetown's Linden Place has a new one-bedroom cottage on a gated property in the midst of Kentucky Horse Country. Located two miles from KHP, it features an indoor and outdoor private shower, five acres of flora to explore, a private deck overlooking the pastures and horse boarding next door (Airbnb).
(Author and travel and lifestyle writer Kathy Witt feels you should never get to the end of your bucket list; there's just too much to see and do in the world. Contact her at KathyWitt24@gmail.com, @KathyWitt.)
(c)2020 Kathy Witt
Visit Kathy Witt at www.kathywitt.com
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