Friday, January 7, 2022

Kentucky Road Trip - October 2021 (2)

…continuing with our fall season exploration of the area around Lexington Kentucky and the Kentucky Horse Park.

In ‘normal’ non-Covid-19 times, a plethora of equestrian events and competitions are held at the Kentucky Horse Park.  During our visit, there were some events underway, both outdoors and in the Alltech arena although spectators were still not permitted in the arena.

Numerous equestrian events are planned for 2022.  These include dressage shows, a huge charity horse show, hunter-jumper competition and “Road to the Horse”, an event where humans, aka ‘colt-starters’ compete to show their ability to communicate and train young colts.

We weren’t planning to visit every attraction at the Kentucky Horse Park.  One thing we didn’t want to miss was the Parade of Breeds Show.  This event features the introduction of a number of horses and riders to park visitors. 

The horses shown vary but in our case we were treated to 6 different breeds with their appropriately costumed riders.  The first horse that we encountered was this Thoroughbred.  We were able to get up close and personal with the horse and rider before the show and then we watched the horse go through its paces in the rink.

The Thoroughbred is best known for its use in horse racing.  These horses are known for their speed, agility and spirit.  This breed was developed in the 1600s and 1700s in England, where native mares were crossbred with imported Mid-Eastern stallions of Arabian, Barb and Turkoman breeding.  All modern Thoroughbreds can be traced back to just 3 stallions.

This was the one horse that was presented during our visit that none of us had ever heard of…and Laurie knows her horses!  This is the Akhal-Teke from Turkmen.  They are known for speed and endurance as well as their intelligence.  Their distinctive metallic appearing coat led to their nickname, “Golden Horses”. 

These horses are adapted to severe climates and are considered to be one of the oldest existing horse breeds.  There are about 6,600 Akhai-Tekes in the world, with most being found in Turkmenistan.  FYI, Akhal is the name of the line of oases along the north slope of the Kopet Dag Mountains in Turkmenistan and it is inhabited by the Tekke tribe of Turkmens.

How tough are these horses?  In 1935, a group of Turkmen riders rode their Akhai-Teke horses for 2,500 miles from Turkmenistan to Moscow in 84 days…including a 3-day crossing of 235 miles of desert without water. 

This is the most popular breed of horse found in the USA.  The Quarter Horse is an American breed that excels at sprinting short distances.  Its name is derived from its ability to outrun other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less.  Some Quarter Horses have been clocked at speeds up to 56 mph. 

The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world with roughly 3,000,000 living horses on its books.  In addition to sprint races, this horse is certainly well-known for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and, of course, as a working ranch horse.

The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited for the complex and fast moves required in reining, cutting cattle, barrel racing, calf roping and many other western riding events.

This horse being led across the rink is an Arabian… Remember those 3 stallions from which all of today’s Thoroughbred Horses have descended?  This Arabian is related…a distant cousin…but this breed definitely stands on its own.  Arabians dominated the discipline of endurance riding…

The Arabian horse originated on the Arabian Peninsula…now mostly occupied by Saudi Arabia.  With its distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, it is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world.  It also is one of the oldest breeds.  Archaeological evidence of very similar horses in the Middle East has been found that date back 4,500 years.

For many centuries, Arabian horses lived in the desert with their humans.  For shelter and for protection from theft, prized war mares were sometimes kept in owner’s tents, close to children and everyday family life.  Only horses with a good disposition were allowed to breed, which resulted in today’s Arabians have a good temperament.  It is one of the few breeds which the United States Equestrian Federation allows children to exhibit stallions in most show ring classes.

This compact and muscular horse has a refined build, an expressive head and a nicely arched neck.  The Morgan horse is one of the earliest horse breeds that was developed in the USA.  The breed can be traced to the ‘foundation sire’, named “Figure”.  This stallion was later named Justin Morgan, after his best-known owner.  FYI, the garment worn by this rider may well have been like the one worn by Daniel Boone as he rode his Morgan horse through the Cumberland Gap...

These horses had many roles in 19th Century American history.  They were coach horses, general riding animals, racing, (especially harness racing), and as cavalry horses for both sides during the Civil War.  Morgans have influenced other American breeds including the American Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse and the Standardbred.

In 1907, the United State Department of Agriculture established the US Morgan Horse Farm near Middlebury Vermont for the purpose of perpetuating and improving the breed.  This farm was later transferred to the University of Vermont.  Laurie and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting this farm and viewing both the facilities and the horses.  You can check out what we saw by clicking on the following link:

Not a horse of course…but instead a well-behaved Sheltie who laid down on the bleachers behind his/her parents, paid little attention to the horses, but kept an eye on me…

This last and very eye-catching horse with its appropriately dressed “Lady” in the saddle, is an English Shire.  Predecessors to the Shire were valued as war horses and were the property of the wealthy and royalty.  The Shire as a breed was established in the mid-1700s despite its origins being much earlier.  

This large horse is both tall and heavy.  It has held records for both the largest horse and for the tallest horse.  A Shire named ‘Mammoth’ or alternately ‘Sampson’ born in the mid-1800s weighed 3,360 lbs. and stood 21.2 hands tall…over 7 feet tall at the withers.

The shire is a draft horse and it has great capacity for weight-pulling.  It was and sometimes is used for farm work and as a cart-horse for road transportation.  They were even used to tow barges back when the canal systems were at major means to transport goods.  They also pulled brewer’s drays/carts for delivery of beer. 

With increased mechanism of farming and transport, the need for draft horses dropped drastically and by the 1960s the number of Shires had dropped from a million or more to just a few thousand.  Although the numbers have increased, the breed is still considered “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.  I was able to stroke and scratch this particular gentle giant… What a great temperament!

After the Parade of Breeds for this particular day, horses and riders came to the rail around the rink and visitors had a chance to ask questions and touch the horses if they wanted to… The first photo above has Laurie and her sister Bonnie checking out the Akhal-Teke up close and personal.

In should be noted that this was just a sampling of the horses from the Breeds Barn.  Others include the American Cream Draft, American Miniature Horse, American Paso Fino, Appaloosa, Chincoteaque Pony, Dales Pony, English Shire, Fell Pony, Friesian (my personal favorite), Gypsy Vanner, Hanoverian, Lipizzan, Marwari, Mustang, Palomino and Tennessee Walking Horse.  Additional breeds represented on the Park include the Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, Silesian, Standardbred and the Suffolk Punch.

Laurie and Bonnie just had to stop and visit with just one more horse, this one in a pasture.  We had a great time at the Kentucky Horse Park.  Still, we just scratched the possibilities.  The daily schedule allows for watching the daily grooming, riding a horse-drawn trolley, a viewing of champion race horses from the Hall of Champions, the Saddlebred Museum, horseback and pony rides and the Mounted Police Barn. 

The Kentucky Horse Park also features a fully equipped camp ground that hosts over 40,000 visitors each year.  For shoppers there is a large gift shop in the Admissions building.  In addition, a large variety of events are held in the Alltech Arena.  Depending on the event, be it a concert or a horse show, the seating ranges from about 5,500 to 8,500.  Upcoming events include a truck and tractor pull, a gun and knife show and the Tristate MX event. (Motocross - arena cross racing)

To learn more about the Kentucky Horse Park and all it has to offer, just go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for coming by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. Thanks...I enjoyed reading about these horses. Wouldn't know what each one is without your descriptions. Most enjoyable.

  2. Looks like that you and Laurie had a blast in the horse park, David. I don't know anything about horses, but these look so handsome! Thank you for sharing with us. Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

  3. I can imagine Laurie was in hog-heaven for this visit.

  4. I enjoyed this post and now know more about the different types. The English shire was my favorite, a beautiful animal and rider as well. we drove through Kentucky on our cross country road trip a few years ago, but didn't stop here, perhaps on a future trip.

    Also, did you read my comment on your previous post, Dave? On our upcoming Feb road trip to FL (ham radio convention) we're driving to and fro and stopping along the way. We would enjoy meeting you and Laurie, if possible, as we may be visiting friends in Powell, TN. Since your location isn't given on your blog, please contact me at the email on our blog, if interested in a meet-up.

  5. Dear Dave, What a beautiful experience to see those horses and Kentucky.
    I wish you and Laurie a blessed New Years filled with good health and lots of happiness.