Posted in Kentucky Horse Park, News Release at 6:58 am by Thomas

        LEXINGTON, KY (October 23, 2009) 

The Kentucky Horse Park and the

Kentucky Equine Humane Center

are partnering in a new project

to assist Kentucky’s

unwanted horses.

        Last week the Kentucky Horse Park became aware that some unwanted, pregnant Thoroughbred mares were in need of a home.  The owner of the mares no longer wanted them, and sent them to the Kentucky Equine Humane Center (KyEHC), a 72-acre facility located in central Kentucky.  The KyEHC is a model shelter for equines from across the state.  No horse in need of shelter is ever turned away, regardless of breed or mix of breed.  The number of horses they have taken in has swelled recently, including the pregnant mares, so they contacted the Kentucky Horse Park for assistance.

        “We are ever mindful of the responsibilities that march in tandem with the privileges of being the Horse Capital of the World,” stated John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “So we had to make an important decision.  The easy choice would have been to make excuses not to get involved, or to look the other way and hope that someone else would help these mares.  The more difficult choice would entail taking on several new, high-maintenance horses, thus significantly increasing the work load for our already-overworked staff.”  He continued, “We made the right decision.”

        Kathy Hopkins, Equine Director for the Kentucky Horse Park, visited KyEHC with several staff members to make arrangements to take some of the pregnant mares.  “While we were there, we saw a number of horses of other breeds that we thought we could help,” stated Hopkins. “So we formed a partnership that will allow some of their horses to come to the park each year for foster care, to receive rehabilitation and training, which will also ease the overcrowded situation at their shelter a bit.”

        Lori Neagle, Executive Director of KyEHC observed, “Horses that have training are much more adoptable.  This partnership will allow the horses to be more useful, and therefore, find homes easier, allowing KyEHC to place more horses into adoptive homes.  Not only will these horses be easier to adopt, but when properly trained, horses continue to be more marketable throughout their lifetime, reducing their risk of ending up in a crisis situation.  This helps the horse long term as well as KyEHC by not having the horse return to us later in life.”

       Care for the horses will be provided by park staff and by students enrolled in the park’s new four-month Professional Horseman’s Course which starts in January.
        In the Professional Horseman’s Course , students will have the rare opportunity to study and work with up to 40 breeds of horses at the park and gain hands-on knowledge and experience regarding handling, feeding, grooming, foal-watching, rehabilitation of injured horses, and training techniques utilized in today’s equine industry.  The goal of the program is to provide information and skills necessary for the graduates to enter many facets of the horse business.

        Through the partnership with KyEHC, students will have the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of horses who, due to no fault of their own, have found themselves in need of new homes.  The students will also assist in the subsequent adoption process.

        Nicholson concluded, “This might be a perfect example of ‘what goes around comes around’.  As we step up to the plate to help these horses, the horses will, in turn, help our students to become more qualified and conscientious caretakers, who will accordingly discover ways to make their own valuable contributions to the horse industry.”

        For more information on the new partnership or the Kentucky Horse Park’s Professional Horseman’s Course, contact Laurie Brown at 859-259-4290 or lbrown@kyhorsepark.com, or Ellen Hamilton at 859-321-6982 or ehamilton@kyhorsepark.com.  For information on the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, go to www.KyEHC.org or contact Lori Neagle at 859-881-5849 or LNeagle@KyEHC.org.  


Polo Newbie

Posted in My Equestrian Adventures at 8:37 pm by Thomas

Polo is not one of the 8 disciplines at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian 2010 Games but today I went from being a spectator to giving it a try and I must say I am hooked.  I have always said I wanted to try every equestrian opportunity there was before I die, call it my horse bucket list, and I am well on my way. 

I had the luck to win a pair of introductory lessons at the 2nd Annual John Henry Adoption Fair this past summer but just got my first chance to go out today.  In Central Kentucky we have the great luck of being able to take lessons from Jorge Vasquez who is the Captain of the Lexington Polo Club.  He is a highly rated polo player and after meeting him today a wonderful teacher. 

My lesson today was an indoor lesson, probably as much to do with my newbie status, as the fact it was a rainy day for an October day in Kentucky.  That was probably lucky for me because the indoor Polo ball is about twice the size of the outdoor version and is also an inflated ball as opposed to a hard ball.  By the end of the lesson I was still a newbie but I was managing to swing the malet and make contact with the ball with good effect and my wife figures on the Polo rating scale I would rate a minus 2 Goals.  She also had a chance to get up on the horse and give it a try and was hooked like me by the time Jorge had shown her the basics. 

I am going to get back out within a month to use my other introductory lesson with the plan to video that for everyone to see.  I suspect though with all I have going on you are not going to see me playing on the Polo Fields at the Kentucky Horse Park for many years, though after today I might just have to put that specific goal on my list. 

Jorge is based out at Bryan Station Farm on the North East side of Lexington.  For more information on lessons, you can go to, Lexington Polo – Learn to Play Polo , the main site for the Lexington Polo club is www.lexingtonpolo.com.

Thomas Demond
Kentucky World Equestrian Games Ovation


World Equestrian Games Day @ Keeneland

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:41 pm by Thomas

I made it out to Keeneland today for World Equestrian Games Day.  I had received my invitation as a volunteer for the Grandstand seating but stayed down below as I prefer to run back and forth from the padock to the rail to watch the horses.  Speaking of watching the horses, did anyone else notice that in the 7, 8, and 9th race that the corresponding horse won the race. 

As part of World Equestrian Games Day they had a number of demonstrations out on the track.  We did get to see the Dressage demonstration and heard about the reining and everyone seemed to like.  So it is good to see the Foundation do these kind of events to promote the Games.  All and all I think it was a Great event and a Great day and the weather was about perfect.



Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Test Event, World Equestrian Games at 9:09 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-October 15, 2009- The United States dominated the Kentucky Cup Endurance FEI CEI***, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, garnering all three team and individual medals on Wednesday. The winners were officially declared at an awards ceremony held at the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday morning.   

Danielle McGunigal of Ft. Valley, Virginia, was the individual gold medal winner of the modified CEI*** in a ride time of 6:30:41 with an average speed of 18.43 kph. The race was originally an FEI qualifying event at a distance of 100 miles (160 km), but was shortened to 75-miles (120 km) after the footing became questionable due to the inclement weather that began shortly before the race began and continued throughout the day making the trail slippery and muddy.  

“I was disappointed by the race being shortened but happy to be finished,” lamented the 1996 Endurance World Champion. “This was the toughest ride I have ever done. It was like swimming up hill with a hole in your paddle.” 

The race was shortened—from six loops down to four—and McGunigal led almost the whole way riding Gold Raven, her 8-year-old Arabian mare. McGunigal’s mother, two-time Endurance World Champion, Valerie Kanavy, came to the mandatory vet check ahead of her daughter, but was later eliminated after her mare slipped on the second loop.  

Ellyn Rapp of Dubuque, Iowa, won the silver medal in a ride time of 6:52:16 (17.46 kph) on her 14-year-old Arabian gelding, Berjo Smokey. “Smokey is amazing, said Rapp. He never quits.  I have had all my best rides on him.”  

Jan Worthington, of Scales Mound, Illinois, won the bronze medal in a ride time of 7:01:33 (17.08 kph) riding Golden Lightning. The 9-year-old Arabian gelding was awarded the prestigious Best Condition award, given to the horse that is judged to be the most fit to continue. Worthington was thrilled with his accomplishment. 

“It really took me by surprise,” said the 69-year-old rider of winning Best Condition. “I am blessed with a great horse. I think he did so well in the mud because he has small feet like a mule.”    

The individual medals were awarded first and the ceremony turned out to be very moving, thanks to a technical difficulty. The music for the U.S. National Anthem could not be played, so the audience volunteered to sing it instead. 

Despite the weather, the event was considered a success and a good test for next year.  Competition Manager Emmett Ross said Wednesday provided some excellent learning opportunities, and was pleased with his feedback about the trail.  

“We were committed to make the trail wonderful.  You never got to see the trail in its full glory because of the weather,” said Ross. “I’m saving some surprises for next year. We are looking forward to making this a very enjoyable trail next year – and it’s not going to rain!”

Team USA East – Gold Medal
Danielle McGunigal
Dr. Margaret Mary (Meg) Sleeper
Stephen Rojek
Farzad Faryadi

Team Central USA – Silver Medal
Ellyn Rapp
Janice Ann Worthington
Darolyn Butler
Julie Jackson – Biegert 

Team Mountain USA – Bronze Medal 
Christoph Josef Schork
Suzanne Hayes
Douglas Swingley
Tennessee Mahoney


UAE, USA Riders Dominate Kentucky Cup Endurance

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Pre-Events, World Equestrian Games at 10:10 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-October 14, 2009- HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum  of the United Arab Emirates and 1996 Endurance World Champion Danielle Mc Gunigal of the United States won the Kentucky Cup Endurance events, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.     

HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum son of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, crossed the wire first in the CEI** 75 mile event in a ride time of 6:05:30. Danielle Mc Gunigal finished the CEI*** in a ride time in 6:30:41.  The CEI*** was originally an FEI qualifying event at a distance of 100 miles (160 km), but lost its status when it was shortened to 120 km after the footing became questionable in the inclement weather. 

“I have mixed feelings about shortening the race,” said Mc Gunigal. “The footing was only getting worse. Some of the parts of the trail that we have to go over were already slippery and deep and if the race was kept at the original distance, we would have had to go over it again, so in that sense, I am glad they shortened it. But I was hoping to use this race to qualify my horse (Gold Raven) for next year, and now we have to do it at another event, so that is very disappointing.” 

HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum was thrilled with his win despite the conditions. 

“It was amazing. This is the sport that we most love. It’s our history,” said Sheikh Majid.  “Given the weather today, the course was amazing. But the weather made it very difficult. There wasn’t any hard part, other than the ground being a bit slippery. Other than that, it was excellent. There wasn’t anything wrong or bad.” 

The rain was a recurring focus of the day, with a downpour shortly before the start of the rides. It continued throughout the day for all mandatory veterinary exams, creating a messy vet gate and slippery footing. 

Two-time Endurance World Champion Valerie Kanavy and mother of Danielle McGunigal, was affected by the weather and footing. Kanavy was eliminated after her horse LM Parys fell on the second loop. 

“We were crossing the road on the blacktop and she just slipped,” said Kanavy.  “She went down and I went right after. She has recovered and is doing fine now.” 

The event was aptly named as an endurance test. The endurance levels of the athletes from the 23 countries participating were truly tested.  However, according to Mubarak Khalifa of the UAE the weather was no big deal. “Endurance riders are used to riding in all kinds of weather, so this is normal.”  

One noticeable absentee was HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was expected to compete but never made the trip to Kentucky due to commitments in Dubai.


The World Games 2010 Foundation Announces Competitors for Kentucky Cup Endurance. Official Test Event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Test Event, World Equestrian Games at 10:16 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY—October 7, 2009— On October 14, riders from more than 20 countries will compete in the Kentucky Cup Endurance race, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.  

Athletes from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Romania, Spain and many other countries are expected to compete in or observe Kentucky Cup Endurance in preparation for next year’s Endurance World Championship at the 2010 Games.  The team from the United Arab Emirates will be led by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  His son, HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, will also ride for the UAE.

Current World Champion Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain, and the mother-daughter team of Valerie Kanavy and Danielle Mc Gunigal of the United States will also compete. Kanavy is a two-time world champion (1994 and 1998) and also placed second to her daughter in the 1996 World Championships.

Kentucky Cup Endurance will feature both a 75-mile (120 km) race and a 100-mile (160 km) race. Both races comprise a series of loops through the Kentucky Horse Park and surrounding properties, frequently returning to the Kentucky Horse Park for required veterinary inspections.

The 75-mile race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on October 14 and the 100-mile race will follow with a 7:45 a.m. start.  Awards for the 100-mile race will be held at 10:00 a.m. on October 15 in the new outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. In addition to honoring the top riders, there will also be an award for the best conditioned horse.

Admission to Kentucky Cup Endurance is free to the public. Parking will be $3 per day at the entrance of the Kentucky Horse Park. Kentucky Cup Endurance spectators can also enjoy the other Kentucky Horse Park attractions. Admission to Kentucky Horse Park attractions is available at the Visitor’s Center.

A complete list of competitors and countries is available on the Kentucky Cup Endurance test event page of our Web site.


Posted in Events of Interest, Kentucky at 9:59 pm by Thomas

This year’s Knott County Fall Trail Ride attracted over 10,000 people and 7,000 horses.  The event has now grown into one of the largest equestrian events in the state!   People spent on average $234.22 in the area creating an economic impact on the region of somewhere between $2.3 million and $2.8 million dollars. 

Knott County Fall Trail Ride 2009

Knott County Fall Trail Ride 2009

Located in the heart of Elk Country, the Trail Ride started out three years ago as a three day event.   But this year, campers and trailers started pouring in the Sunday before and stayed all week.  By Tuesday morning, three days prior to the event even starting, there were over 400 campers already set up.   “This is no longer a weekend event”, says Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson.   “People from all over the U.S. are taking a week’s vacation to ride the mountain trails of east Kentucky”.   Riders came from 17 different states including Michigan, Connecticut and Texas.*  

Many people come up early to ride the trails.  Others come just to hear the elk bugle.  “With over 11,000 elk roaming free in the eastern coalfields of Kentucky, it is an amazing experience  and the landscape is absolutely breathtaking”, says one camper from South Carolina.   

The event has grown so much that last year the campsite was relocated to a large coal reclamation site on a portion of land owned by Western Pocahontas Land Company and International Coal Group.   “With over 50,000 acres in which to camp and develop trails, there is always room for more” says Judge Thompson.  

The Knott County Trail Ride takes place twice a year with a ride in both Spring and Fall.  

Details and hundreds of photos can be found at knottcountyadventure.com 

     *This year’s Fall Ride attracted riders from Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona,   Michigan, Colorado, Texas, Utah, Connecticut, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and, of course, Kentucky.   

Contact:   Debby Spencer
WMTH Corporation
P.O. Box 51153
Bowling Green KY 42102
(270)792-5300 or (270)781-6858


Chester Weber Wins Kentucky Cup and Record 7th Consecutive National Title

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Pre-Events at 7:35 pm by Thomas

Lexington, KY – October 4, 2009 –   Chester Weber of Ocala, FL, is now in possession of the 2009 Kentucky Cup, which was a test event for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and a record 7th USEF Four-In-Hand National Championship.    

Weber went into the Cones phase a mere 6.86 points ahead of the pack and maneuvered his team around the course with only a 2.30 time penalty, for a final score of 131.35 to take the title.

“This course was up to international standards,” said Weber.  “The time is always difficult at a Championship and I felt that this was good preparation for next year where we are going to have to fight to make the time.”

Tucker Johnson, Hobe Sound, FL, placed third in the Kentucky Cup and finished as Reserve Champion, in second place behind Weber as the second highest placing US driver in the National Championship race.  Johnson was within the time on the Cones course, but managed to bump two cones and dislodge the balls on top for a penalty score of 6 and a final score of 141.40.    

“This was a good course” said Johnson.  “I was very pleased and thought it was a very appropriate course for the competition.  For next year I plan to build a team from these horses and the team I have in Europe and prepare by competing in Windsor and Aachen.  Now that we have gotten a taste of what the course can be, with the hazards and the hills, I plan on coming back with something that is ready to show.” 

Boyd Exell, from Australia, spent the week chasing Weber and Johnson and after his spectacular Marathon phase and was less than 7 points behind the leaders going into the last phase of competition.  Exell drove his team tight and fast, covering most of the track at an extended trot and crossed the timers with only a penalty of 3, for one ball dropped, for a total of 138.91 and second place in the Kentucky Cup. 

“The course was, just like yesterday’s Marathon, very horse friendly” said Exell.  “It was also nice to watch.  But from my previous competition experience in Europe, this was the most horse friendly.  This was a test event and I anticipate that next year it will go up to WEG standards.” 

Exell is already guaranteed a spot at the 2010 Games representing Australia.  For Weber and Johnson, the Kentucky Cup and USEF National Championship titles are just two among a history of stiff competition between top American drivers. 

“Tucker made me work really hard for this all weekend, harder than in the past,” said Weber.  “I remember watching his dressage and thinking maybe he has got me here.  Cones have been my weakness in the past but this was pretty fluid.  I did use Jamaica at the left wheel today and frankly he gave me a bit of grief.  That’s what I get for trying to give an 18 year-old a break.”

Chester Weber, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Cup

Chester Weber, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Cup


Top Drivers Go Head-to-Head in Kentucky Cup Driving Competition. Weber and Johnson Vie for Record 7th U.S. Four-In-Hand Championship

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Pre-Events, World Equestrian Games at 7:00 am by Thomas

Lexington, KY – October 1, 2009 – A real shootout is underway for the U.S. Four-In-Hand Driving Championship, which will be decided on Sunday at the 2009 Kentucky Cup, a test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, being held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.    

Chester Weber, Ocala, FL, and his team of warmbloods, which includes Jamaica, the 2008 USEF Horse of the Year, turned in a beautiful dressage performance to lead the competition with a score of 40.06.  Weber has won 6 consecutive National titles and is looking for his 7th. 

Also gunning for a record 7th Four-In-Hand National title, and sitting in second place with a score of 41.98, is S. Tucker S. Johnson, Hobe Sound, FL.

“This is so exciting,” said Weber.  “To see so many other American teams competing here.  When I first started driving fours in 1999, it was Tucker and Jimmy (Fairclough) and I think that they were happy to have a third competitor with them.” 

Johnson echoed that sentiment. “Having 16 teams competing here is huge.  It is a great step forward for the US.  In Europe you will see 30 to 40 teams competing at every show.  This shows that we are moving in the right direction with our sport.” 

“I would like to get to the low 30s, which I did with my team last year, but the results today were acceptable”, said Weber.  “The goal is always to win, but with this competition the goal is also next year.” 

Boyd Exell, who hails from Australia, sits in third place behind Weber and Johnson for the Kentucky Cup title with a dressage score of 47.87.  “This is a prep for next year”, said Exell, the 2009 winner of the Four-In Hand at Aachen in Germany, third in the 2008 FEI World Four-in-Hand Championships and winner of the 2008 British National Championship.  “This was the first dressage test these horses have done as a team.  So they did well.  I think that it is great that Tucker is chasing Chester.  I plan on sitting back and picking up the leftovers.” 

Kentucky Cup Driving is both a competition for the National title and a test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, giving these competitors a chance to preview the venue at the Kentucky Horse Park prior to the Games next year.
The latest results from this event can be found at www.alltechfeigames.com on the News Headlines.  Also on the site is information on all the test events as well as general information about the upcoming Games.

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