The Ultimate Rolex Field Guide

Are you Rolex-bound? Holly Mooney imparts some “insiders” knowledge of all things awesome in Lexington, Ky.

From Holly:

It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Rolex Edition)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much horsey jumping
and hearts will be thumping
when eventers are near!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes Horse Nation. It’s the hap – happiest season of all. Eventing Season! This year’s Rolex Three-Day Event is gearing up to be AMAZING. So in honor of the only stateside four- star event, today I’ll be talking all about Rolex!

Wait! Stop right there! Not an eventer you say? DOESN’T MATTER! This thing is like the mother of all horse shows and really does have something to offer everybody, plus Lexington, Ky., is literally called “Horse Capital of the World.” Lexington = all things horse.

This will be my second trip to Rolex. Last year’s rookie visit was enough to solidify my yearning to return to Lexington, Ky., every April for the rest of my life. Country roads… take me home. However, I’m also lucky enough to get to travel with a gaggle of seasoned Rolex visitors so I’m going to share some “insiders” knowledge of all things awesome in Lexington, Ky.

Getting There

Our preferred method of travel is driving. Driving through West Virginia is really pretty. Just be prepared for freak ice/snow/cold because apparently the end of April is still winter in the mountains of West Virginia. Also trucks… big ones… lots of them. I can’t attest to what it’s like coming from any other direction, but maybe someone can chime in in the comments section below! Obviously, flying is an option too, but remember… Rolex has A LOT of “shopportunities.” There’s so much stuff to see, and want, and buy, so if you fly you might want to bring an extra suitcase… seriously.

Aside from being able to get all your cool, new loot home from Lexington, driving also affords you the opportunity to make some fun stops along the way. On the way there we plan to hit up Hill Top Fruit Market (Home of CANDYLAND) and an obligatory stop along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail because two cars full of ladies who are both hopped up on candy and tipsy on bourbon (with the exception of our DDs of course) sounds like a great way to get the party started.

Besides, everyone knows Rolex calories don’t count…


So… What Do I Do?

Just so everyone is clear, to attend all three phases a general admission ticket PLUS a reserved stadium seat for Dressage and Stadium Jumping are needed. Only general admission is needed to view the Cross-Country event. Check out the handy dandy FAQ on the RK3DE website for additional info. Side note: RK3DE = Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event. It may or may not have taken me a few minutes to figure that acronym out (hint: it did).

Now that we’ve got that out of the way here’s a list (in no specific order) of all the fun stuff you can do during your visit to the Kentucky Horse Park:

• Watch dressage that will make you weep and wonder, “Why can’t I do that?” Hint: Check out the copy of the dressage test in the Official Program, it’s enlightening. I can barely remember Beginner Novice Test B.

• Attend the Kentucky Reining Cup. It’s cool to see the juxtaposition between the reining horses and the eventing horses. Both sports are full of AMAZING athletes.

• Check out everything in the sponsor village and the trade fair. Swoon over saddles that cost more than your horse. Resist the urge to buy everything… then give in to the urge to buy everything.


• Watch the Pony Club’s Prince Philip Cup Mounted Games. I’m absolutely envious of the brave and talented pony clubbers and their amazing mounts! The “Celebrity Round” is also HILARIOUS AND AWESOME and really shouldn’t be missed (12:30 pm on Friday, April 25).

• Attend a course walk with your favorite eventer. Many of them will be posting details to their Facebook pages, websites and assorted booths at the event, so be on the lookout! Jimmy Wofford’s course walk was great last year. He manages to teach, convey the gravity of what the horses and riders will be doing the next day, AND make everyone laugh.


• Soak it all in on cross country day. Stand next to a gallop lane and just listen to the sound of the hooves flying by. *Chills* Tip: pack a lunch if you don’t want to miss any of the cross country rides. According to the Rolex website, there WILL NOT be a midday lunch break this year, so plan accordingly.


• Visit all the other stuff the Kentucky Horse Park offers! The Hall of Champions, Horses of the World Museum, park memorials and statues, a walking barn tour, trail rides, the International Museum of the Horse, the American Saddlebred Museum, Al-Marah Arabian Horse Galleries, and the Wheeler Museum… you know, in case you’re bored! Tip: Check out the stride markers for Secretariat, John Henry, and Man-O-War. They are on the pathway that leads to the Man-O-War statue. You’ll be blown away!

• Sit back and relax while the competitors enter the final phase of competition. It’s inspiring how the horses and riders can perform by the end of this event. Added bonus, even though the stadium is big, you somehow get this very intimate feel while you’re watching. It might be how incredibly silent it is (beside the sound of cameras whirring), or how focused the riders are, but you’ll absolutely share in the competitors’ joy. Almost a full year later, and we still bring up Gin and Juice’s ‘victory lap’ regularly.


Okay, but What About When I’m Not at the Horse Park?

You all leave?

Okay, fine, twist my arm… here are my tips for the rest of your stay:

• Get on Urbanspoon and find local dining. Lexington is FULL of awesome restaurants and delicious barbecue. No need to eat at a chain.

New Vocations: Thoroughbreds for All has been a big hit with our group and it benefits a great cause.

• Liquor Barn. Google it. Go there.

• Go on a stud farm tour.

• Do a walking tour of the beautiful historical district of Lexington.

Okay, if I haven’t filled your stay in Lexington, then you must be moving there…

A Few Final Words:

• Wear comfortable WATER PROOF shoes and pack some rain gear no matter what it looks like in the morning.

• Slather yourself in sunscreen even if it doesn’t seem sunny.

• Napping under a tree is highly underrated.


Go Eventing!

Editor’s note: Keep it locked on Horse Nation for all the latest Rolex news PLUS announcements about activities, meet-ups and of course Eventing Nation’s Annual “Insanity in the Middle” Tailgate Party on Saturday!

Holly Mooney is 30 year old aspiring eventer, who lacks the bravery necessary for her sport. Her quarter horse Emmy is an absolute professional who has competed through Beginner Novice with her previous owner. Emmy is still trying to convince Holly of the proper speed, tempo, and distances for cross country. While her lifelong dream was to own a horse and compete, Holly often finds herself thinking, “Oh my god, what have I done?” Luckily, her chestnut mare is a much better eventer than she is.



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