Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

A Picnic with Horses on Courses

The day started out cold and overcast with a brief mid morning drizzle, which contributed to holding the crowd down to around 20,000 people.  But by the lunch break shortly after noon the weather for the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event had turned gloriously sunny.  There was nearly a 30 degree temperature swing in just a matter of hours, however the crowd gathered around the Head of the Lake fences – where we picnicked – enjoyed the shelter and shade provided by the trees as the competition got back under way.  Some of us had been there since early morning and had already covered great distances across the entire swath of the Kentucky Horse Park’s 1200 acres.  We were already tired, hungry and ready for a break.

My normal day at Rolex, an event I’ve been attending for more years than I care to admit, usually involves walking.  A lot of walking.  The winding cross country course covers just over 5 miles, and even though it doubles back on itself, the spectators can easy cover twice that distance moving from fence to fence, from the course to the trade fair and vendor tents, from the parking lot to the food stands.

Like any equestrian event, the people to dog ratio was probably 4 to 1. And the pups, like my friend's Great Dane Penny, were just as tired, hungry and thirsty as the rest of us.

A few years ago Rolex began selling tailgating spots along the middle of the course, something that has proven quite popular and now sells out every year.  Our group opted for the less expensive and less time consuming option of a picnic.  The menu had to be highly portable, for if you’ve ever attended Rolex you know where you park (the campground) and how far you have to walk just to make it into the event.  A simple baguette of proscuitto and cheese with butter and fig preserves was paired with asparagus tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.  To accompany it we had a trio of meats – salami, sopressata, chorizo with more baguette.  And of course, wine.

The kids were just as tired as the dogs and grown-ups.

It was nothing fancy, but then again, it didn’t have to be.  The purpose of the day wasn’t to slave in the kitchen, it was to enjoy the spring sunshine in the Bluegrass, watch a world class equestrian event (and cheer on the US riders and Olympic hopefuls).  And most of all to be thankful that of all the places we could be on this day, the only place any of us really wanted to be was here, at home in Lexington.

I would never claim to be a great photographer, or even a great amateur one, but I do enjoy spending the day at Rolex shooting the cross country competition.  The Equine Photography page on this blog has additional photos from this year’s event in addition to previous years and the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  There are a lot of photos on the page so it may take a moment to load all the images. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.


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