Horse Farm Tours
Here's some favourite ways to visit the homes of Lexington's wonderful four-legged Kentucky stars.
Beautiful horse farms have been a part of the Bluegrass since the region was first settled and so have their horse farm visitors. Early 19th-century travellers remarked on the beautiful country estates of the Bluegrass State noting "a handsome horse is the highest pride of a Kentuckian."
When the great 20th-century Thoroughbred Man o' War retired to stud visitors from around the world flocked to see him. Man o' War's groom, Will Harbut, kept ledgers for visitors to sign and when Man o' War died in 1947 there were 63 ledgers containing over 1.3 million signatures.
Visiting a horse farm while you're in Lexington is a uniquely Bluegrass kind of experience. There are about 450 horse farms in the whole region. with about 150 in the Lexington/Fayette County alone. They are all still working farms, which means you should never just "drop by" but several allow visitors by appointment or through arrangements with a professional tour company.
Here's how to revisit racing history, see the world's most fabulous farms, get up-close-and-personal with the Kentucky Derby winners or discover an exciting variety of horse breeds.
Giddyup and Go!
There are three ways to visit a horse farm:
- Reserve a seat on a guided group tour
- Hire a private guide for a custom tour
- Arrange it yourself by making appointments at specific farms
A Guided Tour:
If you have a general interest and your time is limited why not consider taking a guided group tour. The itinerary is planned by a tour company to offer an overview of Lexington and its horse farms. Some farms allow visitors only through these tour companies. Although offered daily most of the year, reservations are still needed for the tours. Make them as far in advance as possible because tours can sell out, especially during peak visitor times.
- Blue Grass Tours (+859-252-5744). Two tours daily at 9:00am and 1:30pm Monday through Saturday and 1:30pm on Sunday, Spring through to Autumn, with a minimum of four guests. This tour lasts about three hours and includes a stop at a local horse farm, Keeneland Race Course plus other points of interest. Pick-ups are available at several hotels. $35; $25 for ages 12 and under. You can also request information about longer tours like "Horses, Hooch and History" which includes a packed lunch and at stop at a distillery.
- Horse Farm Tours, Inc. (+859-268-2906). Tours are given daily at 8:15am and 12:45pm seven days a week, all year-round. Every tour includes a drive by Calumet, two or three farms to see mares, foals and stallions; plus Keeneland. Lasts about three and a half hours for the whole thing. Tours depart from several local area hotels. $38 ($45 during Derby week). Children under 12 are $28.
- Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farm Tours (+859-260-8687). Tours are offered daily at 8:30am and 12:30pm all year-round departing primarily from the Embassy Suites. This 3+ hour tour includes a drive by Calumet, a tour of Keeneland Race Track, an up-close personal encounter with Thoroughbreds and extra points of interest from the movies Seabiscuit, Dreamer and Secretariat. $36 ($40 in winter). Children 12 and under are $26.
- Unique Horse Farm Tours (+859-213-6653). This tour departs from several hotels near the Kentucky Horse Park, usually around 8:30am and noon. This tour highlights behind-the-scenes stories about the people and horses that make Lexington the "Horse Capital of the World." You'll tour historic estates and new multi-million dollar farms on this 2.5-3 hour tour. Adults are $40. Children 12 years old and under are $20.