By Sarah Tackett

Lexington is truly the “horse capital of the world” (Florida’s protests notwithstanding).

It’s easily taken for granted. Watching horses run over the blue-green hills becomes as common as seeing an airplane. The majority of us only lift our heads to notice the horses during the spring and fall races. When Keeneland opens, not only do we pay attention, we suddenly become horse experts. When your guests begin brooding over losing tickets, it becomes your responsibility as a native Lexingtonian to educate them on handicaps, jockey weight, tri-fecta boxes and if all else fails, where they can find one of those tasty mint juleps.

But horse country doesn’t just mean thoroughbred racing—notable exceptions include the Rolex 3-day event, the High Hope Steeplechase, and the upcoming annual Junior League Horse Show.

Actual horse experts from Kentucky and all over the world migrate to our town to participate in many kinds of horse-related traditions. One of the most respected of these traditions is the Lexington Junior League’s Horse Show. Since 1937 the Lexington Junior League has presented the largest outdoor event for the American Saddlebred. This show is revered in that it is also the first step toward attaining the Triple Crown of the American Saddlehorse Competitions. At this time every year, the Red Mile welcomes more than 30,000 people for a week’s worth of events, drawing approximately $10.4 million dollars in revenue for city businesses. The competition also raises a remarkable amount of money for local charities. The Junior League reports that to date, 3.6 million dollars has been raised to benefit the community. That’s pretty impressive.

Ame Sweetall, the 2004 Horse Show Chair, explains “I think the horse show is a great way to show off a fantastic horse community that gets lost in the thoroughbred industry.”

She is very enthusiastic about this year’s show, and excited to be on the home stretch of planning.

Sweetall admits, “It is challenging because every year members take on new positions that they have never tried before; everything from painting the rails in the ring, to raising thousands of dollars in sponsorship. But it is nice to see people committed to the project, and great to watch everything come together.”

Sweetall went on to explain that putting on a horse show is no picnic. “I think people should know that this is a premier show, a real competition, where people are awarded $70,000 dollars in prize money. It is an opportunity for those who work with horses to show off their skills.” Sweetall explains that participants are judged on everything from presentation and composure to the way they control the movements of their horse.

She adds, “the show features traditional costumes and formal riding that you don’t get the opportunity to see anymore. It’s beautiful.”

When asked about what was the most rewarding part of being involved in the horse show, Sweetall replied, “Our greatest achievement is raising money to give back to the community.”

The Junior League funds several organizations with money raised from the horse show. Their Community Education and Research Committee spends most of the year sending out notices and sorting through applications. The criteria for funding is rigorous and depends on how many people will benefit from the project, as well as what kind of impact it will have on the community. Their support is not just financial. The Junior League also assists foundations through an energetic volunteer program.

Sweetall concludes, “We’re not just giving out money, it’s about spending hours volunteering as well.”

Dates: July 12 through 17
Monday through Saturday

The Red Mile
1200 Red Mile Road
(between South Broadway and Versailles Road)

Time: Morning & Evening
9am Tuesday - Friday
7pm Monday - Saturday
(except Friday-6:30pm)

Parking: Free parking in front of The Red Mile

General Admission: General admission $3 (Mon-Thurs); $5 (Fri-Sat)
Children 6 and under: Free. Reserved seats $8 (Mon-Thurs); $15 (Fri-Sat) at the door or call
859/ 252.1893 n

Junior League Mission Statement:

An organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The Junior League of Lexington, Kentucky, Inc. reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and a commitment to
voluntarism. n

About the Horse Show

Where it started?
In 1937 ladies in evening dresses and gentlemen donned in white tuxedos began an elegant era of serious Saddlebred shows right here in the bluegrass.

What’s a Saddlebred?
The American Saddlebred Horse Association preceded all of the horse breed associations, and was founded in Kentucky. The horse itself is exceptional, and is known for its precise footwork, high step, and controlled gait. The history of the Saddlebred reaches back to carrying settlers across the Cumberland Gap and bringing Civil War Generals into battle.

What You’ll See at the Horse Show
The Junior League Horse Show is considered a celebration of the style, grace and endurance, paralleling the characteristics of the American Saddlebred and its rider.

Other Entertainment
The competitions of the Horse Show are definitely the main attraction, but there is fun to be had outside the ring.

Be sure to visit the Gaited Gallery with as many as 40 “shops,” from both the bluegrass and abroad. They will be selling everything from fun gifts for horse lovers, to jewelry, art and handbags for everyone else. There will be unique and custom made items that you won’t be able to find in the mall.

Don’t Forget the Food!
You can either enjoy dinner in the Red Mile Clubhouse with a nice view of the show ring, or try the concessions. Red Mile has added great quick-eats and features a special Junior League and Makers Mark commemorative collectors’ dipped glass and drink.

What to Look For
The elegant riders will be dressed in fine “habits” with long jackets and tiny brimmed hats. Other competitors will don fancy period costumes as they drive grand park coaches with attendants. Get ready to see local and national celebrities entering the show ring, as well

What You Should Wear
Although the participants will be dressed in formal attire, you can go casual. Dress ranges from shorts to suits. Think Keeneland on a warm summer evening.

Organizations funded by the 2004 Junior League Horse Show

The American Cancer Society will receive $2,500 to benefit the Patient Services Room, which provides low income female chemotherapy patients with wigs and prostheses.

Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra will receive $2,000 for the “Friends of Music” program which provides free music lessons for low income students in Fayette County.

The Down Syndrome Association will receive $1,500 toward the “Up with Downs” project which provides information and referral assistance to families of children with Down Syndrome.

The Family Care Center will receive $3,905 for medical equipment in new patient examination rooms.

The Jarrett Mynear Fund will receive $25,000 and 15 volunteers toward the renovation of the Pediatric Oncology department at the University of Kentucky.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation will receive $2,500 for the “Adopt a Wish” program.

The Maxwell Street Presbyterian/East 7th Street Kids’ Cafe will receive $2,500 toward additional activities and extension of staff hours.

Ronald McDonald House will receive $10,095 toward appliance purchases for the total kitchen renovation. n