County horse park
bodes well for one in Oldham County
(October 2001) Carrollton, Ky Kentucky sports a
strong tradition with horses. The annual Kentucky Derby
at Louisvilles Churchill Downs is only a part of
this tradition. A significant portion of the horse population
comes from nearby Oldham County.
According to county magistrate Duane Murner, Oldham is
in the top 3 percent of the nation in horse population.
He cannot think of a better reason to develop a horse
park in Oldham County.
A public interest forum will address the
issue at 7 p.m. on Nov. 13 in the Oldham County Community
Center. This was brought on by a recent appropriation
of $4,700 from Oldham Countys Fiscal Court to fund
an appraisal of the land.
We have a great diversity of breeds and a strong
4-H interest, said Murner. To me, this is
one of the attractive things about Oldham County.
Murner himself has 20 years of experience in showing horses.
In all those years, he never had a close-to-home venue
in which to show them. Thus was born the vision of a horse
park in Oldham County. Murner soon discovered he was not
alone in this vision and soon was talking with fellow
magistrate Mary Ellen Kinser about the project.
Before Murner made his move on a local horse park, he
did his homework out of town. He visited Hoosier Horse
Park in Edinburgh, Ind.
The 200-acre horse park is part of the 600-acre Johnson
County Park and was built specifically for equestrian
events in the 1987 Pan-American games. Funding for the
facility came from the county and the state as well as
According to park superintendent Tim Davis, the project
involved converting the old Camp Atterbury military base
into a horse park. The county purchased the facility first
for the Pan Am competitions, then later for shows and
public use. It consists of a covered arena, three dressage
arenas, two large stadium jumping arenas and two outdoor
practice arenas. It also has 325 stalls and can accommodate
more than 3,000 people.
We used this as a model because it was successful
and attracted a lot of exhibitors, said Murner,
who has been showing horses at the Johnson County Park
for 10 years.
It seems to be very well managed. The stalls are
very convenient to the arena. There is an excellent P.A.
and nice, open and easy parking. Its very accessible
for people wanting to show their horses.
The park plays host to more than 60 events a year between
February and October. The rest of the year the arena is
still open to schools, classes and practices. There are
also 10 miles of riding trails. It costs $2 to ride a
horse. Renting arena ranges from $100 to $300. The cost
to stall a horse is $6 per night.
Davis said the support from the county has greatly helped
the running of the park.
We can offset our prices to keep them low and have
more shows here because people can afford it, said
Murners efforts to develop an Oldham horse park
were at first limited because a lack of an appropriate
location. Then last April, La Grange resident Garnett
Morgan Jr. opened a series a series of riding trails called
Little Big Horse Trails on his 1,000-acre, 200-year-old
Murner presented his idea to Morgan, hoping that the horse
park would play in nicely with these horse trails. Plans
for the park would include a covered arena and two outdoor
arenas for horse shows. stalls, an area for recreational
vehicles and a picnic area.
I think it is well needed, said Morgan. It
is going to be for all breeds and bring in a lot of interest,
not only for people who want to show horses but see horse
shows. Im not so worried about it benefiting my
business. It will some because people who go to the horse
park may get the bug to ride.
Murner said the vision is not enough. Naturally, the financial
backing would have to be in place. Murner has drawn up
a proposal for firms to bid on doing a feasibility study.
Also, Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton recently visited Morgans
land to look it over and discuss possibilities for state
funding. On his Aug. 17 visit to the proposed site, Patton
left optimistic about the proposed plan and said he would
consider some possible funding avenues.
Meanwhile, Murner has mentioned some other possible funding
sources, such as the Federal Trails Program, State Tourism
Development and the Phase I Tobacco Settlement by the
Agricultural Policy Board. He noted that the county itself
cannot afford to be pumping money into the project.
Fundamentally, we need sufficient support from the
state so we can develop the property, he said. It
should eventually support itself on an on-going basis.
If you have a covered area, people show almost all year
round. If were not able to secure adequate support
from the state, then were not going to do this.
The Oldham County movement for a horse park comes a decade
after one was developed in English, Ky., near Carrollton.
David Maiden, who had grown up riding horses, teamed with
his wife, Penny, his brother, Charlie, and Carrollton
residents Jimmy Aaron and Buddy Skaggs. Together, they
started to develop a park that today consists of 20 acres
of arenas, stalls and a recreational vehicle area.
A $5,000 contribution from Carroll County Tourism also
helped start the effort in 1992. According to Penny Maiden,
it was around $10,000 in private contributions as well
as donated labor that made the difference.
We knocked on doors, made phone calls and invited
anyone in the community who wanted to donate their time
and resources, she said. That is what provided
the bulk of what has made this horse park. Weve
been well supported by the businesses in the community.
The park, which opened in October 1992, was originally
built on a portion of the Maidens land, which they
leased to the Fiscal Court. Penny said that this provided
an umbrella for liability purposes. Harold Shorty
Tomlinson was Carroll Countys Judge-Executive when
the Fiscal Court first leased the land. He also served
on the tourism board at that time.
It has been very well received, said Tomlinson
of the park. It adds to the quality of life here
and gives our youth something to participate in and be
competitive. The park is also used for livestock
and 4-H activities.
Recently, it played host to a show sponsored by the American
Quarter Horse Association.
Those behind the development of these parks are true believers
in the Kentucky horse tradition. For them, horses are
a part of life beyond the first weekend in May.