Kentucky Horse Park
I know nothing about horses. It’s all spavins and heaves to me. But I got an education this week at the Pony Finals held at Kentucky Horse Park.
I’m winding up my solo trip after a spending a couple of days with my folks – Happy Birthday, Dad! – and I’ve landed in Lexington as an almost-home respite.
They call it the Sport of Kings because you’ve got to have a king’s ransom to participate in these competitions. It’s a really expensive sport, and I watched children of the rich and almost famous compete in the Pony Finals. This was an invitation-only event and the kids (under 18) had to win a title or two to get here. They rode well-trained ponies, which I was told are smaller horses somewhere under 14 hands high.
The Pony Finals are a series of three different competitions held over several days. I watched the hurdle contests, or Hunter Jumping as it’s called. Riders trot around a ring and jump over carefully groomed hurdles in a set pattern. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the course, and then the rider and horse are awarded points that count toward a prestigious grand prize.
Kentucky Horse Park is a huge complex devoted to all things equine. But I’m here because it has a really big campground – 260 sites – and nearly every spot was occupied this week for Pony Finals. Lots of people brought their giant Horse Trailer RV rigs. These trailers are a good 50′ long, not counting the truck that pulls them. I don’t know how they can even park them. It took me 10 minutes just to back our little 29 footer into an easy spot.
Everyone in the campground, and I mean everyone, rented a golf cart to tool around the horse park. I did see one lonely guy who had a boat with him and we laughed that neither of us got the Golf Cart Memo. But all those golf carts came in handy when I hitchhiked with a couple of Pony moms over to the show ring – saving myself a sweaty mile-long walk in the dense humidity.
The Pony moms were very sweet, poised and well-dressed, and had entire stables full of trainers and grooms to help their kids compete. The Horsey Crowd obviously live in a different world from the rest of us schmoes, but even the parents were grousing about how much time and money this sport takes up. It’s a full family commitment to attend these shows, not to mention all the time it takes to train to get here. But I guess that’s true for just about any high level sport, be it baseball or ballet.
I enjoyed watching the Pony Finals, was glad I lucked into seeing this event, but now I’m eager to get back home. It’s been a lovely 10 days touring around the region with my dog in the RV, and after a long rest at home maybe I’ll be ready to saddle up and trot out again soon.