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Kentucky: a road trip through the state - Part 29 - Orlando / Florida Guide

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There are two other horse related places in the area that are worth talking about. Also if you’re not really into thoroughbreds but still like horses then these may even be a better option for you.

The first is The Kentucky Horse Park; it' s not just a park but a working horse farm as well. The 1, 200 acres that make up the park have served a horse farm since the 18th century. They have up to 50 breeds of horse both working and playing which include the 2003 Derby Winner, Funny Cide. The Park has a number of equine presentations as well as horse drawn tours. It is also home to The International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddle Horse Museum. So really it’s halfway between a working farm and an equestrian theme park where you can watch farriers and saddle-makers at work, or attend a show-jumping display.

The grounds are also home to many of the top equine management associations and breed organizations where they fill six office buildings. Just a few of these are The United States Equestrian Federation, The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, The Pyramid Society, the American Hackney Horse Society, the American Hanoverian Society and U. S. Pony Clubs Inc.

The Park is open seven days a week from around mid-March to the end of October. Outside these dates then the Park is normally closed for Mondays and Tuesdays.
All these winners earn multi-million dollar prizes and command sky-high breeding fees. The most famous champions of all, horses such as Secretariat and War Admiral, are remembered with statues and even streets named after them. At auctions such as the Keeneland Yearling Sale, where prospective owners try to spot the year’s most promising talent, horses regularly fetch in excess of $1 million. So what happens after all this is over?

The second place you may want to visit is where champions go in retirement. When the racing and breeding part of a horses life is over this is where this organization steps in. It’s known as ' Old Friends' and is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing a dignified and comfortable retirement home for some of horse racing' s elite.

The organisation is based at Dream Chase Farm, which is quite near the Kentucky Horse Park, and offers tours with an up-close encounter with past great champions. You can meet past Kentucky Derby Winners, multiple Grade One winning horses and celebrity horses from the movies. Tours are available seven days a week year round which is great if you are there in breeding season when many farms will be closed. During spring, summer and autumn there are three tours a day which reduces the one during the winter months. Old Friends focuses primarily on stallions, while Mims Retirement Haven which is just north of Lexington in Paris look after retired Thoroughbred Broodmares.

The next section of our trip continues in part 30

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