Known as the Horse Capital of the World, it is no surprise Lexington also is home to the world's only park dedicated to man's relationship with the horse.
“The Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) is a place in the heart of Kentucky's famous Bluegrass Region where people can visit and experience the magic of Kentucky's special connection to horses,” says Lisa Jackson, director of marketing for the park.
The 1,224-acre facility is home to approximately 50 breeds of horses, a 60,500-square-foot museum, multiple barns set in breathtaking scenery and some impressive equine celebrities.
“For people who have never been to the park, it is almost like a SeaWorld experience,” Jackson says. “You can see live animal shows, and there is a great gift shop, but the main thing we say is: it's THE place to get close to horses.”
The biggest news at KHP is that it will host the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, but it also welcomes another prestigious addition this year – the A Gift from the Desert exhibition at the International Museum of the Horse.
The exhibition is the third major international exhibition developed by the museum, and Jackson considers it to be the key cultural component to the 2010 Games.
One of the park's most popular attractions is the Parade of Breeds, which consists of a 30-minute presentation that showcases the characteristics of each selected breed. It is followed by a meet-and-greet session, during which visitors may pet the horses and talk with the handlers.
Visitors also get an up-close-and-personal look at horses in the Hall of Champions.
“I compare it to going to visit the retirement home to see Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods,” Jackson says. “These are the superstars of the horse world who are retired here.”
Thoroughbred Cigar, Champion American Saddlebred CH Gypsy Supreme, and Standardbred Pacers Western Dreamer and Staying Together are among those interacting with KHP visitors daily.
Not yet acquainted with these equine elite? The park has plenty of educational materials to help you learn more about them.
There are dozens of classes, seminars and clinics held throughout the year, including lessons, which require advance registration. For the visitor, the park offers daily trail rides for beginners. Even the youngest visitors can take a ride around the pony paddock.
With so much to see and do, visitors who may want to stay closer to the park will find one of Kentucky' most accommodating campgrounds right on the premises, Jackson says.
The 260-site campground has water, electricity, bathhouses, laundry facilities and a swimming pool.
“Pristine and clean, it is really Kentucky's premier campground,” Jackson says. “It is a piece of Kentucky culture and Kentucky history.”
For more information and a complete listing of attractions, classes and events at the Kentucky Horse Park, visit www.kyhorsepark.com.