Sunday, August 14, 2016

Being Neigh-borly...

Kentucky Horse Park
...and on that note...

July 15, 2016

I think that slamming doors in a hotel is ignorant. So is filling your cooler with ice at 10 p.m. when you have a reasonable expectation that the rooms on either side of the ice room may possibly be trying to sleep. 

On that note, "ignorant" is also locating the ice room near sleeping rooms! 

Anyway. That being said, today was Lexington, KY. Lexington is beautiful and the area we were in was truly horse country. The shale dry-fit walls were amazing and we could easily have spent more time here. We headed out after breakfast to the Kentucky Horse Park. 

Mind you, Kid #2 said that he "wasn't a fan" of horses. Not specifically a dislike or fear, but as he said, "I have a healthy respect for something that weighs nearly 2000 pounds and has a mind of its own." OK. I can live with that. He promised me a slew of horse jokes and groan-worthy puns, but a funny thing happened on the way through the stables...

Be a Bono
Every. Single. Horse. Loved him. Seriously, I doubted my "horse mojo" with him around, because they flocked to him and ignored me. I think he might be a convert now. 

We took the trolley ride, visited a number of barns and actually got to pet easily a dozen horses. INCLUDING 2 - TWO - KENTUCKY DERBY WINNERS! (as a post-script, a friend went to the Horse Park 2 weeks after we did, and was not allowed to pet the Derby winners...I guess it's up to the grooms and how the horses feel that day)

Royal - unashamed...
Funny Cide and Be A Bono were out with handlers and we were allowed to get up close to them. We also got to pet the miniature horses (who cuddled up to The Kid with alacrity), the draft horses (finally, a horse or two taller than he is!) and two Marwari horses. These are very rare; there are about 20 of them in the US and 4 of them live at Kentucky Horse Park. 

We also touched the noses of a Lippizaner, Morgan, Percheron, Chincoteague Pony and a Saddlebred.

A Paint Horse
So what capped The Kid's conversion was an incident in The Big Barn (aside from his obvious change of heart when they all snuggled up to him...). We saw a stall door open and Royal, a huge black Percheron. He was drinking from one of those 5-gallon "pickle bucket" buckets and we asked his groom if we could pet him; she said, "Wait till I get done here, so I can be next to him." Ok - fair point. 

Well. Royal apparently didn't like the water. In a move which I couldn't have filmed unless the camera had been trained on him, he picked the bucket up by the lip and flipped it over his head. 

Pony before he bolted
Here's some context: There was easily FIFTY POUNDS of water in that bucket. His groom shook her finger at him and said, "Oh, ROYAL, you stinker!" I cracked up and looked at The Kid, saying, "Did you SEE that??" He was laughing so hard that he was leaning up against another stall. "I cannot BELIEVE he did that," he said. "Wow - now I know why they call it a 'horse laugh' -- he's grinning like he knew EXACTLY what he was doing," he said. Of course he knew what he was doing! 

Left: Morgan; Right: brown Marwari
On the way around, because now he wanted to see EVERY barn we could see, we stopped at the farrier's (blacksmith's) shop. We found, through conversation, that the blacksmith was from Lemont! and that The Kid knows his family from Providence Catholic High School! Small world... He did see the power of a peeved horse, however. The Chincoteague Pony was getting his hooves trimmed but one of the gardeners let loose with a weed whacker right outside the shop. The pony pulled the rope right off the wall and nearly took the blacksmith down as he tried to bolt. It was an experience, to be sure. 

Another draft horse
During our time in the park we saw the Man O War statue and The Kid commented on how "sturdy" Man O War was compared to the higher-strung more delicate thoroughbreds were lately. And the "stride display" they had was very interesting. They had three poles spaced a certain distance apart, and they represented John Henry, Man O War and Secretariat. John Henry's stride was 22'... Man O War's stride was 24'... and Secretariat's stride was 28' --- twenty-eight feet. And the average horse does this "stride" about 2,000 times in one race. 
Man O War

The last thing, before I forget. It's kind of priceless. We went into one of the rooms where they had examples of the different styles of riding: Western and English. They were on those 25-cent mechanical horses, but they were fully tacked-out, not just a molded saddle like the old-fashioned kiddie rides. 

So The Kid gets onto the Western style horse and tries to settle in. He grimaces, and says, "Now I know why the cowboys were grumpy...How DID they get comfortable??" I cracked up; he thought English was more comfortable, till he got into THAT saddle. I showed him how to settle in and he's still not confident that "the man-parts" don't get bashed a bit when the horse starts moving! 

Stopped at Limestone Blue in downtown Lexington on our way out of town. Tried to see a church - but it was locked up. The waitress at Limestone was making goo-goo eyes at my kid... and he knew it. And she KNEW he knew it!

I had the weirdest sandwich: grilled cheese. "What?" you say... Well, let's put it this way: whole-grain bread, grainy mustard, brie, grilled Brussels Sprouts and raspberry jam. Yep. 

It was delicious. 

On the way back to Illinois - Tuscola overnight then home - we realized:

  1. Mostly all farm-to-table restaurants on the trip.
  2. No churches this time.
  3. Only 1 cemetery.
Tuscola rolls the sidewalks up at 5 p.m. Not even a decent restaurant open, so we actually had milkshakes for dinner; we were ready to be home.

July 16, 2016... Home. Tired. Still friends... 

No comments: