The Kentucky Horse Park Mustang Troop celebrated another successful summer in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19. This beloved KHP education program introduces underserved children in the community to horses and has been in existence for over twenty-five years. Traditionally, children are invited to attend a horse camp experience where they gain self-confidence and other life skills through the channels of horsemanship and riding.
This summer presented some unique challenges, and those challenges were met with creativity and enthusiasm by the KHP Education Department. Through a collaboration with Consolidated Summer Enrichment program, twenty-five children were identified who qualified for the program and demonstrated an interest in learning about horses.
Each child received a backpack and lunch box filled to the brim with learning materials, craft supplies, snacks, and gift cards for lunch. Every weekday for two weeks, children participated in a lesson over Zoom with KHP Education Supervisor, Amanda Reardon. Topics covered included grooming, safety, horse body parts and anatomy, horse racing, horse tack, and horse history. At the conclusion of each week, the children were invited to visit the KHP for a socially distance tour and trail ride.
In addition to their experience at the KHP, Mustang Troop participants spent additional time learning about the life of Isaac Murphy. Participants read and studied the poem by Frank X Walker, “I Dedicate This Ride” and had the opportunity to participate in a Zoom call with Mr. Walker. They also virtually rehearsed and performed dramatic readings of Mr. Walker’s poetry in collaboration with Lexington Children’s Theatre.
Through a collaboration with the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, Mustang Troop participants created a quilt inspired by the life of Isaac Murphy and other African-American jockeys, titled “I Dedicate this Quilt.”
The Kentucky Horse Park was honored to receive this quilt from the 2020 Mustang Troop during a special ceremony in September. This special quilt will be on display in the Visitor Information Center for all to enjoy.