Bring your dog to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.
Dogs and horses. Awesome. Add a cat show to the mix and I’ve gone to heaven.
Ok, no cats at the Kentucky Horse Park but plenty of horses – 90 live on the property. Some are former famous racehorses, others pull the trolley carts that take visitors around the park twice a day and others represent various breeds and participate in the daily 2pm Breed Show educating visitors about the history and highlights of different horse types.
Victor was less interested in the Breed Show, which is the first thing we watch. He was more interested in the new smells – strong smells – and dodging the attention of a young admirer who toddled around my 11-year-old schnoodle with shaky balance and unshakable interest.
Victor loves kids, so normally I’m not concerned. But when the fondling didn’t wane, and the ear pulling began, my attention shifted from fascination with the beautiful Andalusian, Arabian and Gypsy Vanner cantering in the ring before me to keeping an eye on my understandably uneasy dog.
He behaved well. And I appreciated the bucket of water a stable manager carried out for him.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a one part well-groomed park, and huge part love and reverence for all things equine. Horse events, from races to dressage to jumping to Western roping, happen here throughout the year. There’s the facilities to host them all, along with spaces for the hundreds of trailers and RVs that accompany them.
Today, there are no events (though I plan to come back in the November for Hunter-Jumper and fall colours). The park is open daily to 6pm for those who want to stroll, view various breeds, ride the horse-drawn trolley, visit the museums and learn about horses, horses and more horses.
Dogs are welcome at this park dedicated to celebrating all things horse – especially racehorses. The looming full-size bronze statue of Man O’ War near the park entrance is testament to the park’s (and city’s) reverence for these animals. A tribute to Secretariat is nearby.
Dogs wander the park, staying away from the horses, and can’t go into the museums including the impressive circular Smithsonian-sponsored International Museum of the Horse, which is everything you can imagine learning about equine history, or the visually stunning and technically interactive Arabian Museum. There are two smaller ones: the Saddlebred and Morgan museum.
I snuck into the Arabian Museum (thankfully) for 10 minutes tying Victor up in the lobby at the suggestion of a volunteer … who was replaced with someone else when I got back.
“Your dog barked and pulled the entire time you were gone,” she said.
Ok, so not everyone is as enthusiastic about Victor’s charms as a 2-year-old toddler. Apparently, there are some things a jaunty bow tie won’t win you forgiveness for. He wears one when we travel. (Note: bow ties are also kid magnets).
Other than missing out on a thorough visit to the museums, it was a rewarding day. The Kentucky Horse Park’s acres of trails, grasslands, and paths proved ideal for parading an energetic scent-obsessed terrier around, even if it was extremely hot – too hot for costumes during the show at the Breed Barn.
We ended the day watching retired famous racehorses stroll into a ring for admiration, which happens twice daily during the Parade of Champions. First, you watch a short video of the horses’ amazing accomplishments – such as Funny Cide and Go for Gin who won the Kentucky Derby in 2003 and 1994 respectively – then you coo over and photograph these majestic animals now living a life of leisure.
Victor was unimpressed with famous racers. He flaked out at my feet and kept a comfortable distance from nearby kids. He’d had enough of horses, heat and manhandling.
Later, he crashed in our newly renovated Red Roof Inn in Lexington room at 7pm after charming the front desk attendant, also a schnauzer fan. I was close behind him, crashing that is.
Next up: Dog-friendly Shaker Village near Lexington, Kentucky
Find out more about travelling to Lexington, Kentucky by checking out Moon Kentucky (Moon Handbooks) on Amazon.
Thanks to Red Roof Inn where pets stay at no charge, for providing accommodations during our journey. (click on the RED ROOF BANNER BELOW and save 15% until the end of September 2016 with VIP CODE 621277.)