This past weekend stallion farms, veterinary hospitals, aftercare organizations and other Thoroughbred-related businesses welcomed visitors from around Central Kentucky during Horse Country’s second annual Meet the NEIGHbors weekend, which offered complimentary tours at 24 of their member locations.
The event, which drew 1,500 visitors Saturday and Sunday, gave locals the opportunity to learn about their state’s signature industry and play tourist in their own backyard.
“The Horse Country tours have made many different aspects of the industry available to the general public,” said Holly Smith, who visited Hurstland Farm & Spendthrift as part of the Meet the NEIGHbors weekend. “Even though I have been around horses for most of my life, I still geek out when I get to see American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) or days-old foals running around with their mothers.”
Joyce Patci, who visited Darby Dan Farm Sunday, said the experience was as much about seeing the horses as it was learning about the farm’s history and their approach to horse husbandry.
“An employee explained the breeding process to us and showed us the protective gear the mare and farm workers wear during the breeding,” said Patci, a retiree who enjoys volunteering at Old Friends Farm. “Most of the people on our tour were racing fans, but they hadn’t had the opportunity to get up close to these horse ‘stars’ until now.”
While much of Horse Country’s efforts typically focus on showcasing Central Kentucky’s Thoroughbred heritage to out-of-town visitors, this weekend’s events were aimed at giving locals the unique, up-close and personal experiences that thousands from around the world travel to their state each year to see.
“Most of our visitors throughout the year are tourists from out of state, so it’s been wonderful to welcome local residents to Jonabell Farm, many of whom have lived in the area for years, but have never been inside the gates of a horse farm,” said Brianne Sharp, Market Research Coordinator for Godolphin. “We hosted over 150 locals at Jonabell this past weekend and were able to give them a fun and educational ‘behind the scenes’ look at what we do here.”
Created in 2015, Horse Country, Inc. coordinates tours of Thoroughbred farms and other equine-related businesses in an effort to create greater fan interest in Thoroughbred racing. Since its inception, Horse Country has hosted more than 50,000 visitors from all 50 states and 18 countries outside of the U.S.