Vacationing in Horse Country: Where to Stay & The KHP

I hope I've managed to convince you to visit Lexington over the last week. Assuming I have, I'm going to give you an in on the place to stay. We're also going to take a look at the Kentucky Horse Park and talk about the U.S. Dressage Finals a little. Hold on to your pants ...

The Essence of the Bluegrass | Horse Lover's Rating **** | Non-Equine Rating *** | Cost: $170 +, depending on room choice and weekend

The Essence of the Bluegrass is a bed and breakfast located in a modern mansion, just two miles from the entrance of the Kentucky Horse Park. Yes. I said TWO MILES FROM THE HORSE PARK. What. Amazing, I know.

Not only are you super close to the horse park, but the house is located on Mount Horeb Pike, nestled in between huge horse farms. The road is incredibly picturesque, and the driveway is filled with horses as it abuts Stalmare Arabian's indoor arena and pastures. In addition, the owner's have a small barn and a few horses out back.

The amazing view from the back gazebo.
The owner is actually an event rider (who apparently got roasted by Jen of Cobjockey at his last show! Small world!), and his little barn set up was something I totally drooled over. We also talked riding and showing over breakfast, which was really fun! His wife served breakfast, and enjoyed telling us about the times she's ridden and the horses she's worked with. The two are just wonderfully fun people.

We stayed in the "Equestrian Room," which is a first floor room with its own exterior entrance door from the patio. It's a gorgeous room, that is not done justice in the photos on the website. Its tall ceilings, hardwood floors, and little details really pleased us. In addition, we chose this room because we were allowed to have the huskies tag along on the trip! Nothing makes a vacation better than puppies! Note: If you do decide to bring your dogs along, keep in mind that the owners do have dogs of their own. If your dogs are socialized, this will be zero problem!

The front of the house ... also one of the worst photos I have ever taken. I am so sorry.
Coming and going from the house was a breeze (something I always worry about with Bed & Breakfasts), and the breakfast was out of this world good. We talked about it for the rest of the day. It was easily the best thing we ate all day.

I solidly recommend staying here if you're in Lexington on vacation. Wandering out to the gazebo with a cup of coffee and the dogs, and being able to hear the faint announcements from the KHP was unreal. Really, really cool.

They also nestled a little bottle of Maker's Mark onto the bed. Welcome to Kentucky!!

2nd Annual U.S. Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park | Horse Lover's Rating **** | Non-Equine Rating * (maaaybe **) | Cost: $0 (your mileage may vary. Avoid the tradeshow if you're on a budget) | Time Spent: 3 hours

Our first foray into the world of Dressage came Saturday night, waiting for our dinner reservation time. We went straight to Alltech arena, where the Intermediare I Open and Grand Prix Open Freestyles were going down.

If you haven't been to Alltech Arena, it is really something to see, especially decked out for Finals. While the crowd was varied widely depending on who was riding, the excitement in the air was still palpable. It certainly had the air of an important show.
Alltech Arena is one venue in the U.S. that does feel like a big European show. It was just missing the spectators.

We had to leave just before North Forks Cardi entered, but I know you guys have already seen his ride. I was excited to see Angela Jackson and Allure S, whom I have enjoyed watching and showing with at the Hoosier Horse Park several times, walk away with the Intermediare trophy.

I did wander around the trade show in between classes. The offerings varied, and the stores weren't all open. Still, I noticed a few dressage trends. 1. ALL THE RHINESTONES. Seriously. There were rhinestones on everything. Breeches. Helmets. Boots. Spurs. Gloves. Everything that could glittered. Except the horses. I saw zero body glitter on horses. Not sure if that's against USDF rules. I'll have to check... 2. Ridiculous schooling boots. Photo below. Just, what?
Seriously. What is going on with this? Why do I sort of want it?
On Sunday morning, we wandered back to watch the 2nd Level Championships. I like watching horses compete at my level. It helps me to see what judges are looking for, and better measure how Pig and I stack up in the scheme of competition. While the tests we saw were certainly impressive, I don't feel like Guinness and I are completely out of our league at 2nd. In fact, I saw some things we definitely are competitive with (counter canter, anyone? Travers? Renvers without letting our butts leave the wall?). It made me eager to get back into the show ring with my pony!
A view of the outdoor rings, all set up for championship level rides!
One issue I saw was in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship test. The field was intensely competitive, and each horse was amazing to watch. But while we watched, two horses were rung out of the ring in a row by the head of the jury, Janet Foy. Both for unevenness in the gait. I couldn't even spot any issues, so I was completely floored. Janet Foy is a huge name in the dressage field, so I'm sure she was on here. Still, neither of these horses looked uncomfortable or screamed "lame!" to me. I can't imagine getting rung out of the ring at championships for having a lame horse. How awful!
Have you ever seen a judge ring out a rider for lameness? The times I've seen it in the past were obvious lameness issues. Not this subtle stuff.

Still, the show itself was gloriously organized. The announcers were pretty much on point with everything, and the rings were running remarkably on time. I saw relatively few normal horse show snafus, and the competitors hanging out by the rings were really supportive of the whole show (though they were wishing it was about 20 degrees warmer!).

We didn't stay at park long at either visit, but I was really happy for the opportunity to see the competition. It's making me greedy for some showing luck. How fun would it be to show there?!

What do you think? Have I made you all start planning your Lexington trips? Let me know!

We're back to regularly scheduled Pig content tomorrow. Thanks for going on this little vacation review with me!


  1. I am hoping to go there next year so thanks for all the info! Very timely for me :D

    1. Hooray! Hope I can be around for your visit!

  2. definitely bookmarking these posts for my inevitable trip lol... and what an awesome feeling for you to watch such a big competition and feel like you've got the stuff to be competitive at your level! time to go get 'em :)

    1. I hope so! Finger's crossed we can keep everything together until next show season! :)

  3. Kentucky is deff on my to-visit bucket list. When is an altogether unknown quantity, but deff some day. Thank you so much for these fab reviews! ☺


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