Kentucky Blue Grass a Callin!

In May, the American Horse Publications conference returned to Lexington, Kentucky. In a previous professional life, I beat the pavements in Louisville, but Lexington evaded my work schedule. The renowned Kentucky Horse Park and the Keeneland Race Track were mysteries in magazines to me. With each trip I take, I rent a car for a couple of days before conference proceedings commence to drive around the countryside and open the roads for unseen sights.

I arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park as the gates opened. Morning fog started to break, and dew sprinkled the well-kept lawns. I had planned to tour the International Museum of the Horse, but the path to the Man O’ War sculpture beckoned. The mighty stallion, hidden by the trees and the grey atmosphere, emerged regal and breathing history. I catch my breath for a moment, surprised as I always am that a statute can appear to come to life. Man O’ War rose to cast his power over the park once more.

The pre-conference state of mind tour allowed me to step out of my comfort zone by photographing warm-up jockeys and their assigned horses at the Keeneland Race Track. Timing with photographing a moving horse isn’t a skill that I claim to have, but after shooting at least a couple of hundred frames, I captured a handful of good images. The riders stood in a line at the rail, waiting for their turn at a morning gallop. The raw power of some of the world’s most expensive animals thundered down the track before finishing with a sedate canter.

The Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center offers advanced therapies with a cold saltwater spa and a hyperbaric chamber. In addition to a complete equine-centered swimming pool, the facility’s Aquatred is built into the ground. Horses are led down a ramp into the water versus being asked to step up into the water. The buoyancy water reduces the possibility of injury while still providing a challenging workout. Rehabilitation from injury and conditioning for a horse benched from training utilizes muscles during recovery.

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy room delivers oxygen under increased pressure, surpassing the standard atmosphere most breathe in. Horses breathe oxygen in the chamber, saturating the body’s cells to promote healing. Central to a body’s recovery, infusing the horse with total oxygen, blood plasma cells, and tissues, acute injuries and infections heal more quickly. The non-invasive treatment improves the results of traditional medicine and accelerates recovery from injury or chronic conditions.

A tour of Coolmore America at Ashford Stud rounded out the morning, followed by a tour of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in the afternoon. Incredible day.

I will add a photo gallery to the Equi-Libris website in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!