The Kentucky Horse Park is a top-rated attraction in Lexington, KY. It is home to retired award-winning horses, museum exhibits, meet & greets, and fun for the entire family. And best of all, it’s informative, engaging, and will make a horse fan out of anyone. I’m living proof.
For whatever reason, I never cared for horses other than to admire their beauty. I even met award-winning ones that made more money in one race than I will in my whole life. I can see why over half a million visitors come to the Kentucky Horse Park each year.
Kentucky Horse Park Admission
Opened in 1978, the Kentucky Horse Park is a unique attraction devoted to all things related to the beloved horse. You purchase admission tickets at the front entrance inside the Visitor Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 12. Those under five are free. Military (with ID) and senior discounts are available.
The Kentucky Horse Park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and hours are 9 AM to 5 PM. During the winter season (November 4 through March 30), the Kentucky Horse Park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and hours change from 10 AM to 4 PM. Your admission ticket also includes the next day free, except for major events and holidays. Parking is $5.
The park is not open on Thanksgiving Eve and Day, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Year’s Eve and Day.
Two Kentucky Horse Park bonus offerings are to take a horseback trail ride for $25 and to camp in one of the 260-sites that offer full hook-ups, a pool, tennis courts, and playgrounds.
As you make your way to the entrance, you’ll see Salyers House and Secretariat (Triple Crown winner) Plaza on the right. The bronze Secretariat statue shows him being led to the Winner’s Circle after the Kentucky Derby and is a spectacular photo op. Several famous horse statues dot the Kentucky Horse Park landscape, but to me, none so incredible as Man o’ War one, which is also his burial site and many of his offspring, too.
Kentucky Horse Park has plenty to see and do, with special events taking place throughout the day. Pick up a guide map when you enter the park, which will have the daily schedule posted on it. For instance, you might go to the Hall of Champions Show at 10 AM, the Big Barn Stall-Side Chat at 11:15 AM, and the Parade of Breeds.
The Farming Exhibit is interesting and I learned quite a bit there. Then there is the Mounted Police Barn, with Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police speaking with visitors about their jobs, leading barn tours, and letting you pet their horses.
Breeds Barn houses, you guessed it, different breeds of horses. Here, you can learn the differences between the horses and the things that make them unique. Horse breeds include Icelandic, American Morgan, Andalusian, Lipizzaner, and Gypsy Vanner, to name a few.
A variety of these are in the Parade of Breeds. You can watch them being groomed and bathed for the afternoon show between 9 and 10 AM (during the summer months) in the Breeds Barn.
If you can squeeze it in, try to see the current running film in the Nation Theater (in the Visitors Center), which was Rein of Nobility when I visited. The film runs on a loop from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Two highly popular attractions and activities take place at the Hall of Champions and the Big Barn. I learned about the “large” draft horses at the Big Barn and had a chance to see them up close and personal. I learned how to measure a horse, what they like to eat, about their behaviors, and if they play well with others. The Big Barn is open to walk through at any time, but the instructor-led and very informative meet and greets are during scheduled times. Check your park schedule for those times.
And here is where I fell in love…with Elvis and Kaiser, two world-famous Clydesdales. Kaiser was seriously a sexy beast, born in 2005, weighs 1800 pounds, has a silvery sheen to him, and perfectly-coiffed mane. Elvis was equally as beautiful, but didn’t have the personality of Kaise, which is a flirt and loves attention. Elvis is very jealous if you aren’t giving him all the attention, so be mindful to spread the love equally.
Hall of Champions
Prepare to be wowed in the Hall of Champions as you meet two famous, prize-winning Thoroughbred: Funny Cide (2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner) and Go For Gin (the world’s oldest living Derby winner). A handful of other champion horses reside here, enjoying their retirement in high style, but those were the ones who left the biggest impression on me. This is a do-not-miss part of the Kentucky Horse Park and an excellent opportunity for photographs.
Fun Fact: Go For Gin‘s lifetime winnings exceed three million dollars.
Stroll through the Memorial Walk of Champions behind the Hall of Champions, where award-winning horses that have passed are buried.
There is a kid’s playground and pony rides for $5 between 11 AM and 4 PM. A nominal fee applies. Space is limited, so purchase your ticket upon entrance.
If you get hungry, you can visit High Horizon’s Food Truck daily from 10 AM to 3 PM for hot and cold sandwiches, smoothies and coffee.
There is also a well-appointed gift shop inside the Visitors Center with beautiful souvenirs, logo apparel, toys, snacks, and cold drinks. The pottery is fantastic; I wanted to take home each and every piece.
Museums at the Kentucky Horse Park
One of my favorite parts of the Kentucky Horse Park was the International Museum of the Horse (IMH), which had exhibits, films, photographs, artifacts, and much more. It was easy to follow along and really dive deep into the world of horses and how they have been around basically forever and across the continent.
This fun feature is a Smithsonian Affiliate and focuses on showcasing the horse worldwide and the jobs and importance of horses through time. There is a great emphasis on sporting events in the IMH, dating back to chariot racing, and incredible artwork that may make you “fall down the rabbit hole” admiring it. Kids will enjoy the Al-Marah Arabian Horse Gallery, focusing on Arabian horses with interactive multimedia for young audiences.
The American Saddlebred Museum pays tribute to the Saddlebred horses and their role in our history and culture.
Hats off to the staff of the Kentucky Horse Park, as the grounds are immaculate. The flowers and trees were in bloom, and the buildings are in excellent condition. The staff is obviously mindful of keeping things attractive.
You’ll find plenty of places to take a break and sit for a spell around the horse park property. Be prepared to walk a bit, because the grounds are large.
Keep in mind that this park is the horses’ home. They are not to be petted or fed unless an instructor allows it.
Kentucky Horse Park
4089 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, Kentucky 40511
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