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Kentucky Horse Park

A horse grazing at Kentucky Horse Park
Location Fayette County, Kentucky, USA
Nearest city Lexington, Kentucky
Coordinates 38°09′N 84°31′W / 38.15°N 84.517°W / 38.15; -84.517Coordinates: 38°09′N 84°31′W / 38.15°N 84.517°W / 38.15; -84.517
Area 1,224 acres (495 ha)
Established 1978
Visitors 900,000 (in 2008[1])
Governing body Kentucky Department of Parks
Official website

Coordinates: 38°09′N 84°31′W / 38.15°N 84.517°W / 38.15; -84.517

The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm and an educational theme park opened in 1978 in Lexington, Kentucky. It is located off Kentucky State Highway 1973 (Iron Works Pike) and Interstate 75 in northern Fayette County in the United States. The equestrian facility is a 1,224-acre (4.95 km2) park dedicated to "man's relationship with the horse." Open to the public, the Park has a twice daily Parade of Breeds, showcasing both common and rare horses from across the globe. The horses are ridden in authentic costume. Each year the park is host to a number of special events and horse shows.

Beginning with the 1979 arrival of Forego, one of the leading handicap horses of the 1970s, the Kentucky Horse Park has been a retirement home for some of the world's greatest competition horses. The status of the park as a retirement center was further established with the 1985 arrival of John Henry, Horse of the Decade for the 1980s and the top money-winning thoroughbred gelding in racing history. With the exception of a few months in 1986, John Henry lived at the park until his death in 2007, alongside other racing greats such as Forego and his fellow 1970s champion Bold Forbes, and current residents Cigar, voted Horse of the Decade for the 1990s, and Da Hoss, the first of only two thoroughbreds to win Breeders' Cup races in non-consecutive years. In late 2008, the champions Alysheba and Funny Cide became residents, but Alysheba died at the park in March 2009.

Besides thoroughbred horses, standardbred greats such as Western Dreamer, Cam Fella and Rambling Willie have made the Kentucky Horse Park their home, as well as 5-gaited Saddlebred gelding CH Gypsy Supreme and late champions CH Imperator and CH Sky Watch.


Park sculptures

There are a number of horse sculptures in the Kentucky Horse Park including the Man o' War statue on a pedestal near the entrance. There is also a life-size statue of the 1973 U.S. Triple Crown winner Secretariat with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard being led by groom, Eddie Sweat. From harness racing, there is a statue of Bret Hanover. [2]

In 2009, The Kentucky Horse Park will be host to the North American Junior Young Rider Championships, a prestigious event for talented horseback riders ages 14–21.

National Horse Center

The Kentucky Horse Park also contains the National Horse Center, headquarters for several organizations including:

In addition to many competitions and educational events throughout the year, including the Rolex Three Day Event, and Pony Club Championships, the Kentucky Horse Park hosts many diverse events. Kentucky Horse Park also is hosting USEF Pony Finals, the pony hunter/jumper national championships, in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Name Date Description
Bluegrass Classic Dog Show August 31 – 4 An American Kennel Classic sanctioned show.
Kentucky Fall Classic Saddlebred Show October 4 – 7 This is an American Saddlebred, Hackney, and Roadster horse show.[2]
"Southern Lights Stroll" Wednesday after Thanksgiving This is a fundraiser for local food banks and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, where participants can walk (3 miles) or participate in a 5K run past displays used in "Southern Lights".[2]
"Southern Lights" November 20 – December 31, 2009 Every year Southern Lights opens the Friday before Thanksgiving through December 31, the Kentucky Horse Park features a three-mile (5 km) drive-through animated and stationary light displays.[2]
Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event April 23 – April 27 This is where olympic level Riders compete in 5 days. On the first day there is a horse inspection. On the second in third day there is dressage. on the fourth day is cross-country. And wrapping up the competition on the fifth day is show jumping.
Rider and horse in Cross Country Course
Rider and horse negotiating a rather difficult jump
Rider and horse in Show Jumping

2010 FEI World Equestrian Games

On December 6, 2005, it was announced the Lexington and Kentucky Horse Park will host the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in September and October. The 2010 games will mark the first time the games have been held outside of Europe. The games will include eight Olympic-level world championships that have never been held together in a single location outside of Europe, and is expected to attract an estimated 500,000 visitors and $100 million into the state's economy.

As part of the games, several improvements are slated.

  • A new $36 million indoor arena that was approved in 2006 by the legislature.[3]
  • Enhancements to the arena's sound system.
  • A resort hotel that would be constructed near the park. Bids from private developers have been received and are currently under review.

On February 1, 2007, Governor Ernie Fletcher announced that he will seek an additional $38.3 million in improvements to the park in preparation for the games and other major horse events.[3] Included in his address to the 2007 General Assembly will include,

  • $24 million for a new outdoor stadium that would feature 10,075 permanent seats but could be expanded to 30,325 temporarily for major events.
  • $4 million for an additional 21,000 sq ft (2,000 m2). of exhibition space for vendors.
  • $10.3 million for roadway improvements inside the park that would give the facility a second entrance via the campground. A wide loop road would be constructed so that events could be held on both sides of the horse park.

Construction on the segments of the expanded park, in preparation for the equestrian games, could start in April.[3] A contract for the resort hotel could be awarded in the spring.



The new indoor stadium and additional exhibition space, costing $28 million, would be financed with 20-year bonds.[3] The roadway improvements, at $10.3 million within the park would come from the state highway fund. The resort hotel would be constructed and financed without state funds.


Although the park is owned by the state government, it is administered separately from the the state park system.


  1. ^ Retrieved on 2009-12-27
  2. ^ a b c "Calendar of Events." Kentucky Horse Park. 23 Sept. 2006 <>.
  3. ^ a b c d Jordan, Jim. "$38 million urged for Horse Park." Herald-Leader [Lexington] 2 Feb. 2007. 2 Feb. 2007 [1].

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