I started writing as the equestrian writer for Louisville.com back in January of 2012. The first article I did for Louisville.com was published onsite January 28, 2012. Since starting to write for this beat I have been awed by what Kentucky means to horses.
The state of Florida has attempted to try and steal the title of being named the “Horse Capital of the World” in recent years but they can not compare to what Kentucky brings to the table when it comes to major equestrian events, world famous venues, and world famous horse farms.
Kentucky wins the title hands down. First of all the most famous Thoroughbred racetrack is located in Louisville, Kentucky. The famous twin spires of Churchill Downs Racetrack hosts the most famous 2 minutes in sports - The Kentucky Derby. It is not the Florida Derby that holds that distinction. The Florida Derby is a qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, enough said about that. Churchill Downs also hosts the Breeders Cup on a rotational basis.
Racing on the turf at Churchill Downs.
Kentucky is most famous for its Thoroughbred horses but its other horse is the American Saddlebred. This breed was developed in Kentucky by plantation owners. The breed’s top show is held in Louisville, Kentucky during the Kentucky State Fair. The World’s Championship Horse Show is the top show destination for those in the saddlebred horse industry.
World's Championship Horse Show at Freedom Hall.
Besides the World’s Championship Horse Show Louisville’s Freedom Hall has hosted a multitude of well known equestrian events such as the North American Championship Rodeo, Arabian Horse Celebration, IBRA National Finals, and Apassionata who decided to kick off their national tour right in Louisville, Kentucky because of its title of being the “Horse Capital of the World”. There are many local horse farms, most are centered in the Prospect, Kentucky area. These farms offer area equestrians many opportunities to indulge in their favorite equestrian past times. I have written about many of the events they offer.
The North Amercian Championship Rodeo Paint Horse Colorguard.
We have covered Louisville but let us not forget about the famous horse country of Lexington, Kentucky, the center of the famous Bluegrass. This is where famous horse farms abound. Calumet Farm, Gainesway Farm, Three Chimmneys Farm, to name just a few, are world renowned for their thoroughbred racehorse breeding programs. The movie Dreamer highlighted the beautiful horse country in the area of Versailles, Kentucky. One of the world’s most beautiful racetracks Keeneland Racetrack is located in the area. Its world famous Keeneland Horse Sales are where thoroughbred racehorses are sold. As a matter of fact Keeneland is having a sale for all ages of thoroughbred racehorses coming up on January 7 through January 11. They have horse sales throughout the year.
Racing at Keeneland Race Course.
The final argument for Kentucky’s rightful claim to being the “Horse Capital of the World” has to be what can arguably be called the best equestrian venue in the world - The Kentucky Horse Park. Why can this venue claim such a title? Hmmm, well let’s see they have hosted the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, the only time it has ever been allowed outside of Europe. The upgrades that were made to the park in preparation for the games are all state of the art. Everything from all the arena footing to the new Alltech Indoor Arena were made to be the best anywhere. It is the only time the games were able to be held all in one place. It is the park that is dedicated to the horse and everything about it is phenomenal. Its museums and attractions are amazing. The Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event is world famous with Olympic riders from around the world coming to compete at The Kentucky Horse Park's famous grounds. It is the only 4 star three day event held in the United States. The Kentucky Reining Cup is the highest ranking reining show in the world, and is held in the Alltech Indoor Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park at the same time as the Rolex Kentucky Event. Then there is also the Alltech National Horse Show, which started in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, but debuted for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2011. It is the world’s oldest indoor horse show making its first debut in 1883 in New York City‘s Madison Square Gardens. Because of the success of its first debut at the Kentucky Horse Park plans are for it to remain there indefinitely. There are so many more notable equestrian events that are held at the Kentucky Horse Park that I can not begin to mention them all here. Many of the world’s top equestrian organizations’ headquarters are located within the Kentucky Horse Park at the National Horse Center.
2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games dressage competition held at the Kentucky Horse Park.
A Rolex Kentucky competitor navigates a cross country obstacle at the Kentucky Horse Park.
In the end no place deserves to be called the “Horse Capital of the World” unless it has the welfare of the horse at heart. I have done a number of articles on Kentucky’s equine rescue, adoption, and retirement organizations who tirelessly work on behalf of Kentucky’s horses in equine welfare issues. They have saved so many horses from abuse and slaughter. They are the ones who bring home the title in the end for Kentucky. To read my Louisville.com feature article on some of those you can go here.
Old Friends Equine founder, Michael Blowen, feeds one of the retired Thoroughbreds at the facility a carrot.
You can review some of the 2012 articles I have done on many of the equestrian events I have talked about in this article by going to my profile on Louisville.com here and press the articles button where all the articles I have written will appear.
I am looking forward to writing about all the equestrian events that the “Horse Capital of the World”, that would be Kentucky, has to offer in 2013.
Photos: Courtesy of Louisville.com, Churchill Downs, Keeneland Racetrack, North American Championship Rodeo, World's Championship Horse Show, Sandy Dolan, Charlie Blanton