This week, Lexington’s Red Mile is playing host to an event that’s been dubbed the “Kentucky Derby of Saddlebred Horse Shows.”
It’s a warm day to be dressed from head to toe in traditional English riding attire, but Cecelia Hoffmann is relaxed after competing in the Pleasure Equitation class, where judges assess rider and horse on their ability to master three types of gaits.
"I thought I did good. There were a lot of competitive riders in there," she says.
Though the event doesn’t involve any racing, Hoffmann says the training presents its own unique challenges.
"It's a lot of hard work getting your core strength and your leg strength. You do a lot of no-stirrup work, bareback," she explains.
The American Saddlebred has deep roots in Kentucky – and so does the Junior League Horse Show, which was launched in 1937 to help fund the leagues community projects. The event has since grown into a make-or-break yearly fundraiser for the group. It’s raised over $4M for charity with an estimated $5M impact on the community as a whole.
"I think it's stayed strong because the Junior League members are very passionate about it. This is the largest outdoor Saddlebred show," says show chair Tina Moss.
This year's event runs through Saturday with morning sessions free to the public.
Find schedules and event info here.