Mary is the typical middle child. She doesn’t get to do anything first, like her big brother. And she isn’t “the baby” who gets away with everything, like her younger brother. She’s a go-with-the-flow kind of gal who is mostly fine doing whatever her brothers do.
So, when she developed a passion for horses a year ago, we were excited to foster her interest. We bought horse books. We found various horse activities and figures. We took pony rides at local festivals. We made a point of visiting a horse stable on a recent vacation. And, in the process, her love for horses spread to my boys, and became something they could all enjoy together. But there was something we had yet to experience: the Kentucky Horse Park.
Located in Lexington, the Kentucky Horse Park is an easy 90-minute drive from Cincinnati (closer to an hour for you Northern Kentuckians!). It’s a perfect day trip, so, the weekend before Mary was set to start preschool, we decided to surprise her with a special day celebrating all things equine! With lots of kid friendly attractions and activities, the Kentucky Horse Park is definitely a gold medal winner.
My brother and sister-in-law recently relocated to Lexington, so we met them for a fun afternoon. We arrived first, and waited for them at the outside entrance, which was incredible. There were several large statues to admire, and my new-to-Lexington brother was happy to learn the meaning behind a popular road in the city: Man O War (the Man O War is considered one of the greatest racing horses of all time!).
The main attraction at the entrance for my kids was a mechanical horse with a button my kids to push to activate! This statue is a new (and temporary) addition to the Horse Park, installed in 2015 by New York sculptor and horse enthusiast Adrian Landon. It’s only up through October, so
gallop drive to the park ASAP to see this interactive display!
After checking in and getting a map, we headed to the Kids Barn, an interactive facility specifically for horse enthusiasts 13 and under. However, on the way, we suddenly felt very small:
These larger-than-life chairs were part of a horse jumping course back in the day, and now serve as super cool statues guests can sit on for an Alice in Wonderland-inspired photo op. My kids loved them.
My kids also loved the Play Barn, which was filled with different activities, displays, toys — and real, live horses! Harvey learned how many “hands” tall he is (roughly 9); Mary ogled the collection of Breyer horses; Julian pet a show horse; and the kids delighted in participating in the scavenger hunt.
We had 30 minutes before our Pony rides, so we wandered over to a horse show. The kids were captivated by the horses jumping and galloping gracefully around the course. (Harvey, meanwhile, admired the many dogs at the park — pooches are permitted as long as they’re on a leash!)
One of the best parts about the Horse Park is how natural and relaxed it feels. There are horses everywhere you look — competing, grazing, being groomed, hanging out in their stables. You’re literally immersed in their world, and it’s a really cool experience.
The Pony Rides were what my kids were most excited about, and they didn’t disappoint! After last weekend’s horse rides, I wasn’t sure if Harvey would be up for a ride, but he eagerly and fearlessly entered the paddock. I think seeing the smaller ponies (which we learned have to be under 14.2 hands/58 inches) emboldened him.
There were three Shetland Ponies and one Miniature Horse, the latter of which Harvey got to ride. They went around the loop three times, at a nice and easy pace which allowed the kids to relax and enjoy the ride. Pony rides are $5 each and for kids 2-12, making them a fun and affordable addition to your day at the Horse Park!
Knowing we had a car ride ahead of us, I was relieved to see a playground by the Pony Rides. This place wasn’t your run-of-the-mill playground, either. It was massive and different from any other playground we’ve visited! Mary loved the ride-able horses; Harvey loved climbing every topsy turvy ladder; Julian loved the balance beams and zip lines. It was the perfect way to end our visit.
As we drove away, the kids admired Kentucky’s rolling hills full of rustic barns and beautiful horses. The Kentucky Horse Park is a fun, family friendly place to visit where you’ll instantly feel welcomed (Southern hospitality!) and inspired. It’s definitely worth a trip this fall! The only downside? A day at the Horse Park might make it very difficult to deny your kid’s next request for a pony.
The Kentucky Horse Park is located at 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Ticket prices vary by season and can be found here. (Right now, the Park is running a “Next Day Free” promotion where you get in free the day after paying admission, which would be fun for a little weekend trip!)