BIG AD­VEN­TURE IN SMALL-TOWN KEN­TUCKY

Pony up to an ac­tive get­away in the midst of Ken­tucky Horse Coun­try.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY KATHY WITT

Ge­orge­town, Ken­tucky, may be a small town, but it has big ad­ven­tures—per­fect for fam­i­lies in search of ac­tive sum­mer get­aways. Be­cause it sits in the midst of Ken­tucky Horse Coun­try, many of th­ese are de­cid­edly horse-cen­tric.

HORSE PLAY

Cel­e­brat­ing its 40th an­niver­sary in 2018, Ken­tucky Horse Park has so many things to see and do it’s best to ar­rive with a plan in mind. I can­not visit the park with­out mak­ing a bee­line to the In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum of the Horse—specif­i­cally the Al­marah Ara­bian Horse Gallery. The sounds, images and nar­ra­tion of the story of the Ara­bian horse pull you right into the desert. Kids stay busy open­ing slide win­dows, de­sign­ing their own horse and braid­ing a horse tail.

My favourite part of this ex­hibit is the col­lec­tion show­cas­ing Wal­ter Far­ley’s best­selling Black Stal­lion clas­sic book se­ries, writ­ten from 1941 to 1989. Colour­ful pic­tures taken right from the books and blown up larger-than-life are fas­ci­nat­ing, and I can never re­sist pick­ing up one of Far­ley’s books to read aloud.

The Kid’s Barn is a kid haven: groom a horse; spot things in a horse stall set up in­cor­rectly; run the minia­ture-scale show jump­ing course. Pick up the day’s scav­enger

hunt here and chal­lenge the fam­ily to check off the sights as you ex­plore the park.

See the Pa­rade of Breeds Show (daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), truly a spec­ta­cle with a va­ri­ety of breeds of horses per­form­ing in colour­ful at­tire and ac­com­pa­nied by mu­sic and nar­ra­tion. Catch early morn­ing bath time when the horses are sham­pooed, rinsed and combed, and then trained for that day’s show.

Get to know (and pet) cham­pion race horses at Old Friends Thor­ough­bred Re­tire­ment Farm. You may get to feed a car­rot to 1997 Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness win­ner Sil­ver Charm or be kissed and tick­led on the hand by Pop­corn Deel­ites, the equine star of the 2003 Academy Award-nom­i­nated Se­abis­cuit.

Horse rac­ing’s liv­ing his­tory mu­seum, Old Friends, cares for a herd of over 175 horses—mostly ones whose rac­ing and breed­ing ca­reers have ended. Rock stars of the turf, in­clud­ing Breed­ers’ Cup cham­pion Al­pha­bet Soup, Bel­mont Stakes win­ner Touch Gold and War Em­blem, another Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness win­ner, live out their golden years here, along with some res­cues. The cod­dling and at­ten­tion they re­ceive ri­vals that of their for­mer glory days.

The horses at Whis­per­ing Woods Rid­ing Sta­bles like car­rots, too, as well as ap­ples and pears, and vis­i­tors are wel­come to bring th­ese crunchy treats for them.

Trail rides are guided, but you won’t see a ring in sight. Trails take rid­ers into the rugged Ken­tucky coun­try­side, over hills, along creeks and into lushly wooded swales dark­ened be­neath leafy canopies. Keep watch: you may spot a doe and her baby, squab­bling wild tur­keys or other wildlife.

“You’ll be swept away from the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of civ­i­liza­tion, out in the woods, blaz­ing the trails just like the ex­plor­ers of yes­ter­year,” said our trail guide, Jessi Wil­bers Cum­mings.

Horse­back rid­ing is hun­gry work and Fatkats Pizze­ria & Restau­rant has the award­win­ning Cow­boy Ex­treme pizza with the cow­poke in mind. It’s loaded down with chicken, onions, ba­con and ba­nana pep­pers in a tasty bar­be­cue sauce and smoth­ered in cheese. De­li­cious!

Fatkats also has a crowd-pleas­ing ap­pe­tizer with its pep­per­oni pizza rolls. Th­ese han­drolled morsels of warm, doughy good­ness are stuffed with pep­per­oni and cheese and served with gar­lic but­ter and mari­nara sauce. I no­ticed din­ers around me pour­ing their gar­lic but­ter over the rolls and then dunk­ing them into the mari­nara sauce. I fol­lowed suit and it is the only way to eat th­ese yum­mies.

LARGEST PLANT, LARGEST CREEK

Not equine (al­though you do pass a horse sculp­ture on your way in) but def­i­nitely in the cat­e­gory of horse­power is a free tour of the Toy­ota man­u­fac­tur­ing plant. Watch­ing work­ers—live and ro­botic—zip­ping around par­tially con­structed cars, in­stalling wheels, drop­ping in speak­ers or car­bu­re­tors, mov­ing fork­lifts—is like watch­ing a wellorches­trated dance. But it also sounds like a weirdly out-of-synch con­cert.

As your guide drives you into and out of the var­i­ous assem­bly de­part­ments, ex­pect to hear plenty of mu­sic. This comes from work­ers on the assem­bly line pulling the An­don Cord—a rope tugged to fore­warn of a po­ten­tial qual­ity is­sue that stops the line. From rock mu­sic and car­ni­val tunes to chil­dren’s songs and chimes, each depart­ment has a dif­fer­ent melody and, to­gether, they

add to a sense of tram­ming along on a theme park ride.

Be­sides the tour, vis­i­tors can slip into a brand new, fresh-from-the-assem­bly-line Camry, the reign­ing best­selling car in Amer­ica. Breathe deeply. That new car smell is won­der­ful, and about as au­then­tic as it gets.

It may not be the largest creek in the world, but Elkhorn Creek is the largest in Ken­tucky and a great big scenic por­tion of it flows through Ge­orge­town. Rent a ca­noe or kayak and head to one of the most in­ter­est­ing places from Ge­orge­town’s past: Great Cross­ing Park.

This tiny greenspace, fea­tur­ing shade, pic­nic shel­ters, walk­ing and na­ture trails and a boat ramp, is an an­cient mi­gra­tory path Na­tive Amer­i­cans called Alanant-o-wamiowee, or Buf­falo Path, for the great buf­falo herds that tra­versed the area in search of a salt lick.

The buf­falo and salt licks have van­ished, but the park still draws those in search of a snack, salty or other­wise. Sweet & Sassy Ash­ley’s will even de­liver a pic­nic lunch to the park. The bak­ery has a sand­wich and chip combo that pairs nicely with the shop’s fresh-baked cook­ies or cup­cakes, ideal for gath­er­ings by the wa­ter.

HANNAH SITHER/GE­ORGE­TOWN

OP­PO­SITE: Old Friends Thor­ough­bred Re­tire­ment Farm pro­vides a dig­ni­fied re­tire­ment to thor­ough­breds whose rac­ing and breed­ing ca­reers have ended. Hannah Sither/ge­orge­town Tourism BE­LOW: Ken­tucky Horse Park has at­trac­tions, memo­ri­als, tours, horse trails and pony rides and four mu­se­ums, in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum of the Horse, a Smith­so­nian Af­fil­i­ate that ex­am­ines the role of horses through­out world his­tory. Visitlex

ABOVE: Elkhorn Creek of­fers 27 kilo­me­tres of ad­ven­ture, in­clud­ing ca­noe­ing, kayak­ing and fish­ing. Steve Hock­en­smith/ge­orge­town/scott County Tourism Com­mis­sion BE­LOW: Whis­per­ing Woods Rid­ing Sta­bles presents Ken­tucky’s raw and rugged beauty, which is best ex­pe­ri­enced on horse­back. Ge­orge­town/scott County Tourism Com­mis­sion

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