Lexington, KY. – Kentucky’s reputation is built on horses and bourbon. The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) paid homage to both at the second annual Sips ‘N Saddles on Friday, September 19th. The theme Kentucky Proud was threaded into all aspects of the event, from food and beverages to music and entertainment. Farm-to-table Lexington restaurant Holly Hill Inn, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Barren County and Ayres Family Orchard overlooking the Kentucky River Valley provided dinner at the event. Guests enjoyed beverages from Lexington’s Grimes Mill Winery and West Sixth Brewing Company, and Maker’s Mark concocted a signature drink especially for the evening. Winchester’s Ale-8-One supplied a slushie machine, inviting guests to flavor Maker’s Mark and Ale-8-One soda drink slushies.
In between bites and sips from acclaimed local vendors, guests danced the night away to bluegrass tunes performed by Lexington band NewTown and participated in horse and ranch-themed challenges such as horseshoes, lasso tossing and more. Former professional football player Jeff Tow Arnett will speak about his newfound love of Thoroughbreds and his decision to adopt from the MMSC.
MMSC Director Susanna Thomas led a demonstration of her unique and effective Horse Centered Reschooling Program, which can prepare an off the track Thoroughbred for a second career in an average of 42 days. Guests were able to see firsthand how MMSC staff starts each horse’s education with natural horsemanship and bombproofing, followed by long-lining training, and then starting to build each horse’s knowledge base under saddle with classical dressage schools and basic jumping lessons. Thomas talked about each horse’s backstory and personal journey as it exhibited its new skills during the demonstration, explained each step of the process, and highlighted the athleticism and versatility of Thoroughbreds.
MMSC graduate Warden’s Choice showed off his new jumping skills with owner and MMSC Head Rider Carolyn Drover, and another graduate, Tidings, wowed guests with her new career as a polo pony with her current trainer, University of Kentucky polo team member Emma Oakley. MMSC ambassador Patrick Henry also made an appearance. His owner, Louis Riggio, and trainer, Melissa Murphy, joined Thomas to speak about the Patrick Henry Project and bringing Thoroughbreds back into prominence in the show ring.
“We had three objectives when planning Sips ‘N Saddles,” said Thomas. “The first was to celebrate the versatility of former racehorses in new careers. The second was to showcase all the things that make Kentucky so unique: from our horses, to our bourbon, our foods, and our music. And the third was to ensure that all guests had a wonderful time and came away Kentucky Proud!”