The Kentucky Horse Park

4089 Iron Works Parkway

Lexington Ky. 40511

July 13th, 1999

OurMap name first week of full-timing, for the most part, we just rested. Both inside and outside, our bodies needed repairs from the grueling experience of moving a 5 bedroom house into a 10X10 storage bin. We had driven into Kentucky just to have a place to go; to be out of Ohio. Lexington was only a few hours away and the rolling countryside with its stately horse farms had always impressed us, although we had never actually stopped there. In our travels up and down I-75 we had seen the large signs announcing the "Kentucky Horse Park" and would usually comment about stopping some day to see what it was all about. Laura, who is among other things, the camping guide, found that there is a "Kentucky Horse Park Campgroudn.". Even if you don't stay there, its worth pulling in to buy the discount tickets for the Horse Park at the camp store. Normally we do a little more research than we did on this outing. We visited the park on Sunday and although the staff was always helpful, getting the background on the park's creation almost slipped by. As best as we could determine from those available, the park owes its existence to one woman. Lucille Caudill, who was born and raised in Morehead, Kentucky, and schooled at some of the finest image-01Universities in the country, including the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York. She gave up her professional career after marrying W. Paul Little in 1937. Relocating to Lexington, she became a mover and shaker in the fields of music and drama for the surrounding area. W. Paul Little was the son of prominent Lexington Standardbred breeder Ernest R. Little. He received his introduction to thoroughbred racing while still in his teens. Encouraged by one of his father's trainers, the young image-12Little took a Thoroughbred prompter used to train his father's trotting horses and turned him into a stakes winner. While involved in diverse business interests, Mr. Little's passion was always Thoroughbred horses. Throughout his career, he proved that a small breeder could successfully compete with the industry's giants through a combination of shrewd breeding and business decisions, a thorough knowledge of conformation and bloodlines, and a love for the horses with which he worked. W. Paul Little's career spanned six decades. Throughout this period he had remarkable success arranging pairings which produced top priced yearling stakes winners and champions. At the 1947 Keenland sales he and a partner purchased the mare Rocket Gun, which produced the 1954 Belmont winner High Gun. He would repeat this performance over and over, building a solid reputation as a horseman and breeder. image-06One of his crowning achievements was to join forces with Mrs. H. W. Nichols, the owner of Walnut Hall Farms to re-organizing the Lexington Gentleman's Driving Club which presented Standardbred amateur races, for which Paul Little constantly ranked among its top riders. After his death in 1990, Mrs. Little, desiring a tribute to her late husband, created an endowment, funding the park as a center for education, in his name.
As we pulled in, the parking lot was as large as a theme parks'. It was hot, in the upper 90's. I added a generous portion of suntan lotion. Fluids were no problem. There were several food stands and numerous pop machines throughout the park. The front entrance was framed in a large iron works, and although there were positions for
image-07 ticket takers, the area was unmanned. Our tickets would be redeemed on the inside of the spacious visitors center. The area around the visitors center is adorned with the life size statues of those famous horses who's names have become American household words, like Man o' War and Secretariat. We entered the visitor's center and were directed to the Breed barn, for the 2:00PM show of the Parade of Breeds. As we made our way up the hill, we passed by the Farrier's shop and the Harness shop, image-04 where I paused for a moment to talk to Julann Spromberg as she explained the workings of the Todd style show harness for the Belgian horses, which was on display in the shop. The ring at the Breed Barn was surrounded by covered bleachers, and gave shelter from the relentlessly beating sun. In the United States there are more then 150 established breeds with over 40 breeds represented at the Kentucky Horse Park. As we rested in the shade, six of the finest horses I had ever seen were presented. Among them, a Morgan horse, a Quarter Horse, and a Clydesdale. Each rider was costumed in the attire matching the horses' history. It was here that we learned about horse hands. A horse is measured to the highest part of his back, the withers, in 4 inch units called "Hands". In the old days a man may have placed his hands one above the other, from the ground to withers to determine height. As a man's hand is about 4 inches wide, this measurement was taken as standard.

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