Road Trip With a Dog: Kentucky Horse Park

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I love road trips with my pup but the downside is finding dog-friendly attractions along the way. Thankfully, the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., allows dogs!

Radcliff Enjoys the Morning at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Aug. 2019.
Radcliff Enjoys the Morning at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Aug. 2019.

Last summer, with my mutt Radcliff in tow, I trekked up I-75 from Florida to Buffalo, N.Y. I found canine-compatible stops along the way to break up the drive. For instance, the iconic attraction Rock City is dog-friendly!

We spent the night in Lexington (in dog-friendly Red Roof Inn). The next morning was a quick visit to the Kentucky Horse Park before heading to Delaware County, Ohio. I was one of those little girls who adored horses and dreamed of having one in our barn. They represent freedom, power, and grace and as an adult, I still admire them.

Lexington, Ky., Horse Capital of the World

There are more than 400 horse farms around Lexington. But why? What makes Lexington the Horse Capital of the World?

The answer is right under your nose. Or feet. Look at the bluegrass and think of each blade as a straw of calcium which builds strong bones for healthy horses.

The bedrock for this area is primarily limestone, Lexington Limestone, to be exact. It dates to the Ordovician age which is 488 to 443 million years ago. Limestone is a sedimentary rock mostly consisting of calcium carbonate. It’s relatively soft which means when water passes through, some of the minerals dissolve. This creates a mineral-rich soil which feeds the grasses.

In Kentucky, there is one horse for every 12 people. Lexington has farms and facilities producing legendary and championship horses. These include Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin and legendary Man o’ War, considered to be one of the greatest racehorses of all time. A statue at the Kentucky Horse Park memorializes him. Isaac Murphy, the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies, lived in Lexington.

Horses mean business. More money is exchanged in Lexington for horses than elsewhere in the world. Kenneland is the leading auction house of Thoroughbreds and during their sales. horses have been purchased for millions of dollars.

One of the beautiful horses at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 2019.
One of the beautiful horses at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 2019.

Dog-Friendly Kentucky Horse Park

The Kentucky Horse Park is a 1,200-acre working farm celebrating all breeds of horses. There are about 115 horses representing almost 40 different breeds!

Traveling solo with a dog, missing out on some attraction sights comes with the territory. My visit to the equine attraction, two hours at tops. Although we could not view the museum exhibits, there was still much to see on the grounds. During our short visit, we toured some of the barns, admired a few statues of legendary horses, and watched part of the Parade of Breeds show.

Taking Radcliff here was a bit risky. I know how he is around people and when he’s around other dogs, he’s usually good but has his moments. I was not sure how he’d be around horses so I was cautious as we approached them. Turns out, he was curious about them and did not freak out! A couple of horses seemed interested in him and reached down to sniff him.

Make the Visit!

My only regret is not planning enough time to enjoy this Lexington attraction as we could have spent the better part of a day exploring. I know I missed a lot but so glad I stopped and spent a couple of hours learning what I could about horses. The Kentucky Horse Park is not far from I-75 which makes it a convenient place to take a break when road tripping, especially with a dog.

A life-size bronze sculpture of Secretariat at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 2019,
A life-size bronze sculpture of Secretariat at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 2019.

Nuts & Bolts About Visiting the Kentucky Horse Park

Kentucky Horse Park
4089 Iron Works Pkwy.
Lexington, Ky. 40511
Tel: (859) 233-4303
www.kyhorsepark.com

Although it is dog-friendly, understandably, canines cannot visit every inch of the park. For instance, although they are allowed in the museum lobby, they are not allowed in museum exhibits. They are not permitted in the gift shop, Alltech Arena, or eateries but are welcome in outdoor dining seating areas. Dogs, or any domestic pet, must be kept on a leash or confined to a kennel and either walked or carried. This goes without saying, clean up after your pet! For more about bringing your dog to the Kentucky Horse Park, visit their website.

Where to Stay Near the Kentucky Horse Park

If you’re into camping, the Kentucky Horse Park has a dog-friendly campground. Radcliff and I stayed at the Red Roof Inn Lexington where dogs are welcome!

Red Roof Inn Lexington
1980 Haggard Crt.
Lexington, KY 40505
Tel: (859) 293-2626
www.redroof.com

View More Photos on Flickr

Lexington, KY

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Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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