If you are a horse lover, there is no better place to be than in the Bluegrass. But wintertime presents a challenge for those wishing to get closer to their favorite animals.
This year, however, a new midwinter event will give those equine aficionados a day of fun, learning and interaction, all based around the state’s signature industry.
The Kentucky Horse Council (KHC) recently announced the first Kentucky Round-Up, to be held Feb. 2 at the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“This is the first year of an event we plan to have every year,” said Ginny Grulke, KHC executive director. “This really has two sides to it, but probably the most important side is getting the average citizen in Kentucky, and families in particular, in an environment where they learn about horses and touch them and feel them and basically take away the intimidation factor.”
Unlike a school field trip, this event is designed to also get parents involved and get them comfortable with the idea of their children being around horses, Grulke said.
“No matter what the children want to do, if the parents don’t agree with that or feel comfortable with it, the activity will never happen,” she said.
Anna Zinkhon, KHC president, expanded that idea to livestock in general.
“Kentucky Round-Up is a way for the Horse Council to address an issue that all of agriculture faces,” she said. “Less young people today are comfortable around horses and other livestock because the family farms are disappearing. Getting the kids off the couch and into the barn not only introduces them to the wonder of horses but also has tremendous character and health benefits.”
The day will include fun things related to horses for the children, including live horses and activities that don’t involve animals, such as stations where they learn to rope a cow and horse-driving activities, arts and crafts, a reading corner and many other learning stations, according to Grulke.
“For the parents, we have put together a series of speakers on the hour that address those considering, or who would like to consider, getting their kids into horses,” she said.
This information will include how to become involved with horses without owning a farm or a vehicle in which to haul the animals.
“You don’t have to have a farm, truck and a trailer. I think that’s the most important thing. A family can be involved with horses without buying the whole package,” Grulke said. “You can go to a horse rescue and volunteer to work; you could go to horse shows and help with managing the show or helping get the horses in and out of the show ring or grooming, but you don’t have to own the horse. You could go to the Horse Park and volunteer.”