Besides a short horseback ride through the Chilean vineyards of J. Bouchon Winery, I have not had a horse encounter in over twenty years. Until now, until Kentucky. Frankly, it’s hard not to have a horse experience here.
Lexington, Kentucky is a horse lovers haven with equine farms spread throughout the bluegrass countryside. And we were going to be paying a visit to a few stellar stallions at the neighboring Three Chimney Farms.
Three Chimneys is a lush 2,000 acre farm that provides world class breeding, boarding and veterinary services.
Our tour started out a bit backwards, with a walk through the champion cemetery. This was a peaceful burial grounds for the award-winning, four legged residents that pass on. Each of the headstones, of the dozen or so that where there, boasted the dwellers numerous claims to fame, a resume of their triumphs.
We went straight from seeing gravestones to perusing the breeding shed. See, we were going backward in the timeline of a horse’s life. The floor of this circular room was made from shredded recycled tires, the walls were thickly padded and a couple of video cameras were lurking. All for security purposes. It gets a little rough in there.
Just like the stars on MTV Cribs always said when entering their master bedrooms, “this is where the magic happens”.
Mares are flown in from all over the world to be impregnated by one of the Three Chimney stallions. Though most are local to the United States, 40% of the mares come from out of the country delivered through an equine specific plane carrier.
But, you can FedEx a horse too. Good to know.
Typically there are 5 people involved in the very technical breeding process. Not romantic at all. Different fees are charged for each foal that is produced during these breeding sessions. Big Brown, a champion Kentucky Derby winner, brings in a hefty $35,000 for every baby he produces. Now that’s quite a stud. His fee is determined by how well the offspring perform. Apparently, his are doing pretty well.
Though, the contract is not fufilled just upon a confirmed pregnancy. For these breeding arrangements to be legit, and the fee to be paid, the foal must stand and nurse from it’s mother. It’s a done deal once that happens.
After leaving the breeding barn, we spent the rest of our time just walking through the impeccably manicured land. With the endless sights of green rolling hills and brown picket fences, I wish I could have plopped down in the middle of grass with a picnic basket and bottle of wine.
Life here does seem like a nice dream. The horse tenants spend about fifteen hours of their day noshing in the lush pastures, being ridden for exercise and each have a personal groom. I would be happy here too.