Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Perfect book for history and horse lovers April 20, 2017

PerfectHorsebookI’ve been addicted to fiction books lately, as it’s sometimes nice to escape to new worlds and other ‘people’s’ stories. But when I was walking through the library the other day, a nonfiction book cover caught my eye and made me pause in the aisle. Many of you know that I’m a major horse lover so when I saw the cover for “The Perfect Horse,” with the beautiful head of a white horse along with military troops, I was intrigued. I’m happy I was!

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If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy the book as it takes place during World War II. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy this book as it tells the story of a daring rescue mission to protect some of the world’s priceless, purebred horses from the Nazis.

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“The Perfect Horse” by Elizabeth Betts is a true story of how Hitler sought to breed the perfect military horse by gathering some of the world’s finest purebreds. The book tells the tale of U.S. Army troops who took huge risks to rescue these horses at the end of the war, before the Russians, refugees or others could slaughter these horses for food or other.

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I found the book fascinating from the start. You learn about the different horse farms in Germany, Poland and Austria that bred Arabians and Lippizzaners. I loved learning about the prestigious and historic Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which has practiced classical equitation for nearly 450 years. The book also shares the history of the U.S. cavalry and their role in military actions.

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As much as I’m a horse lover, it was also horrifying to read how the Nazis looked the other way as millions of people were murdered while horses were treated with kindness and warmth at farms not far from concentration camps. It’s sickening to read how the Germans wanted purebred horses as much as purebred humans and would stop at nothing to accomplish this. I also was fascinated by the loyalty and duty many of the veterinarians, grooms, riders and farm managers felt for these horses, as they considered the horses national treasures. The book chronicles the decisions and challenges the farm directors faced while the war raged around the farms and the Germans began to lose.

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The book shares the stories of the many American troops who played a significant role in rescuing these horses from the Germans and before others could harm or kill the animals. These horses were among the finest purebreds in the world so it ultimately was important to try to rescue them as the war ended. To do this, Americans, Germans, Polish and other countrymen worked together to protect the stallions, mares and foals. Overall, this was a well-told story and interesting book.

 

A few of my favorite charities (#GivingTuesday) November 28, 2016

We’re familiar with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, days that promote retailers and shopping. Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a day to promote and support nonprofits that make a difference in your local communities and the world around us.

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Celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable giving season as many people make donations this time of year to charities. Giving Tuesday is a way to donate time, money, items and more to charities in your community and beyond. According to the #GivingTuesday website, last year more than 700,000 people raised $116,000,000 online in 70 countries for charities. That’s amazing! What a positive impact.

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hh_livestrongwalkI’m a firm believer that we can all give back in some way, whether donating a few hours of your time or giving money or sharing information with others or whatever else you decide. Charities provide a positive social impact on the lives of thousands of people and animals every year. So if you’re looking to support some great charities that make big positive impacts, here are some of my favorites:

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LIVESTRONG: The free navigation services offered to people with cancer and caregivers are so very helpful and informative. Whether you have questions relating to fertility, survivorship, insurance, life during treatment and so much else, LIVESTRONG can help. Other programs include LIVESTRONG at the YMCA (helping people stay active during and after treatment) and LIVESTRONG at School (helping schools provide information about cancer to students). I’ve shared my support for this organization in the past and it remains strong (check out my blog about the LIVESTRONG Challenge in October).

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Imerman Angels: This organization provides one-on-one support to people with cancer and caregivers. Mentor Angels (cancer survivors and caregivers) are matched with individuals needing support who are experiencing similar cancers, treatment and more. In 2016, Imerman Angels celebrates 10 years of providing support, making more than 29,000 matches worldwide.

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Horses Haven: This all volunteer-run organization has helped hundreds of horses, ponies, HH_Sheckyheadshot 1009donkeys, goats and more over the years by providing a home (temporary or permanent) to these animals who need some love. The animals are owner surrendered, rescued, abandoned or in need of a safe place. I’m in awe of the hard work and dedication that goes into running this farm on a daily basis. I sponsored a gorgeous retired Thoroughbred for years before he passed on and have helped at several volunteer days on the farm. I love it there.

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Camp Casey: This organization brings two of my favorite things together – horses and supporting people touched by cancer. Camp Casey provides horseback riding experiences for children and teens with cancer. My favorite program offered by the organization, Horsey House Calls, brings a horse, pizza party and arts and crafts to the home of a child or teen going through cancer. Along with siblings and/or friends, the child gets to ride a horse in their neighborhood and have a great party experience. We’ve traveled throughout metro Detroit and now spread into west Michigan. Nothing makes my heart swell bigger than seeing the smiles that these horses bring to the kids’ faces.

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American Cancer Society: The ACS has been a leader in all things cancer for a long time. From getting information on specific cancers to learning about research to finding local support groups, the ACS offers all this and more. I volunteer for the ACS’ Cancer Action Network, which is the non-partisan advocacy affiliate of the ACS working to make certain that cancer issues are state and national priorities.

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Local libraries: As a self-declared book/reading addict, I spend a lot of time at my local library or using the library’s Kindle app to borrow books. I also love the quiet corners I can find for reading, writing, working and sometimes just escaping from the world. After so many city cuts, many libraries rely on private funding to help maintain hours, books, and more.

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Stage Nature Center: This nature center has become my favorite local spot to hike and escape into nature. The nature center isn’t large but it’s welcoming, educational and provides some perfect spots to sit and enjoy nature both indoors and out. The trails offer a quick opportunity to both get exercise and fresh air, while usually encountering wildlife (check out my blog on hiking these trails). Perhaps this isn’t your local nature center, but I’m sure your local outdoor center will greatly appreciate some support.

 

10 fun facts about Mackinac Island, Michigan July 26, 2016

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Approaching Mackinac Island from the ferry.

During my family’s recent getaway to Mackinaw City, we took a day trip to Mackinac Island. The island is located in Lake Huron between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. This is one of my favorite spots to visit in my home state.

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The 3.8-square mile island once served as home to a Native American tribe, a center for fur trading, then a military post when the British built Fort Mackinac (still available to tour on the island). It became a popular tourist destination in the late 19th century. The primary way to get to the island is via boat so there are several ferry companies that depart from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. In the winter when the lake freezes, some residents will drive snowmobiles across the ice. There is a small airport that private planes use.

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I love visiting Mackinac Island. It’s relaxing, even during the busy summer season, and beautiful. I love the uniqueness of horses, bikes and walking as the only modes of transportation. I love that it’s like a secluded getaway in the midst of busy civilization.

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Here are 10 things I find fun and interesting about Mackinac Island:

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1. No vehicles: Motor vehicles were banned from the island at the end of the 19th century and the restriction continues today (except for emergency and some construction vehicles). M-185, the country’s only state highway without motored vehicles, goes around the 8-mile circumference. The only modes of transportation are horses, bikes and your own feet. I love this about Mackinac Island. It makes the island unique, and also provides a sense of peace and break from our crazy, honking society.

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2. Mackinac Island State Park: Mackinac Island was the second national park, then the land was given to Michigan in 1895 and became our first state park. The state park comprises 82 percent of the island. There are more than 70 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. I’ve hiked the majority of these trails and there is always something interesting and informational to see and learn.

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3. Family time: I love any place that enables my family to relax and spend time together. Mackinac Island is the perfect place to do just that. From the ferry ride over to the horse-drawn wagon tour to fudge sampling to simply wandering the streets of the island, we felt worlds away from ‘regular life.’ We even all agreed to suspend technology use (except for pictures) while on the island (so awesome to me!). It was so fun being on the island with my family, especially for the first time with the younger nieces and nephew. We discussed quite a bit of history, horses and nature.

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Horses are everywhere!

4. Horses: I love visiting Mackinac Island where my favorite animal is pretty much everywhere I look. More than 500 horses are brought to the island every spring, and taken off the island for the winter. Many of the horses are used to pull wagons for guest taxis, maintenance supplies, island tours and business needs. You can also rent saddle horses for tours around the island. I unfortunately never got to ride a horse on the island before my cancer surgery so I’m disappointed that I can’t experience this. However, I was happy that my two older nieces and my niece’s husband took advantage of this fun outing.

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5. Grand Hotel: This 390 room hotel opened in 1887 to summer tourists. It has the world’s largest porch (660 feet) overlooking Lake Huron and the hotel’s beautiful gardens. No two guest rooms are the same, which makes me want to walk through every room to see the decor! There is an evening dress code and non-guests are charged $10 to visit the porch. It’s definitely a pricey hotel, but a pretty one.

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6. Biking: Riding bikes is one of the most popular ways to get around on the island. You can bring your own across the lake on the ferry or rent one of the more the 14,000 available from vendors on the island.

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Beautiful lake waters below Arch Rock

7. Arch Rock: This is one of my favorite spots on the island. The natural limestone rock is 146 feet above sea level. It’s unique in the size and shape. Many legends surround the arch. It’s predicted that it will erode completely in the next few decades so check it out.

 

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8. Population: Approximately 7,000 people live on the island during the summer months as tourist season brings many temporary workers to help at the restaurants, shops, hotels, bed and breakfast inns and elsewhere. During the winter, only 400-500 islanders remain.

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9. Education: I find it fascinating that there is a K-12 school on the island. Of course, the year-round island youth need to be educated but I guess the island size and sort of remote location made me think there wouldn’t be a school. The largest graduating class in recent years had eight students. The 2016 class graduated five students.

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10. Fudge: There are 14 fudge shops on the island! So much fudge is made that more than 10 tons of butter is brought to the island every year. I’m not a huge fudge fan but I admit to some sampling when on the island.

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There is so much more I could share about the island! It truly is a fun, unique, relaxing experience. Have you been to Mackinac Island? If so, what was your favorite experience?

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I love this phone booth next to the Grand Hotel! Phone doesn’t work but I still think you can call a superhero if needed.

 

7 tips for finding a great volunteer activity April 13, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , , , ,

volunteerimage quoteThis week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week so I want to thank all of you who volunteer in your community! Volunteering is an incredible way of helping others and supporting your community and neighbors.

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I love to volunteer for many reasons – I feel so fortunate to be alive, healthy, financially stable, educated and loved by many. I know how lucky I am to be here, especially as a 17-year cancer survivor. I believe that everyone can pay it forward in some way. Maybe not financially, but we can all donate our time and talent. Every minute can help others.Consider this information:

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Last year, 62.8 million Americans volunteered almost 8 billion hours!* This equates to almost $184 trillion! Need another reason to volunteer? Volunteers have 27 percent higher odds of finding a job after being out of work compared to people who don’t volunteer. Consider the new skills you learn and people you meet as added bonuses of helping others.

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If you haven’t yet found the time to volunteer and help others, no worries. You can start tomorrow (or today depending when you read this)! Maybe you’re wondering how to get started and what you might be able to do. There are thousands of nonprofits that need help! Here are some suggestions to get you started:

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Start with your local community: Think of what interests you or what really makes you passionate (Are you a cancer survivor too? Love animals? So grateful to your shelter for helping you or someone you know? Experienced in planning events or finances?). Check out some nonprofits near you. Ask your family and friends where they volunteer and what they like about these organizations.

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Thank your church: Many churches welcome volunteers to help with activities such as office tasks, answering phones, greeting members before services, and during Sunday School for the children. Our church hosts coffee time between services where members volunteer to greet others, donate baked goods, and basically ensure everyone is enjoying the social time as we get to know each other.

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School time: Those of you who are parents know that most teachers and schools love to have volunteers help out in the class and at activities. I’m not just talking about PTA. While I may not yet be a parent, I still love volunteering at my nieces and nephew’s schools. I’ve done everything from chaperoning field trips to helping with classroom activities to checking out books during library time to assisting at holiday events.

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Volunteer with a group: Volunteering with others is a great way to help and have fun at the same time! Gather your family, friends and/or coworkers together to help make a big difference. Many nonprofits have special group projects, such as spring cleaning gardens, packing food boxes, painting and building homes. The local horse rescue organization that I support organizes group volunteer days in the spring and fall to clean the farm for the four-legged residents. Tasks can range from washing water buckets to fixing and painting fences to organizing the feed room to cleaning the pastures. It helps the organization get a lot of big projects done quickly while also exposing many people to the great mission and animals. And I love meeting new horse-loving people!

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Cuddle some animals: Many animal shelters need people to play with and simply love the pets in their care to help socialize the animals waiting for adoption. Many of these animals have been abandoned and possibly abused so letting these furry creatures know there is lots of love in the world can help them find a home.

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Hang out with seniors: I have so much respect for the generations above me and love talking to them to hear about our history through their experiences. Some senior citizen homes have volunteers come in to play games and activities with the residents and help them not be alone.

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Focus on your passion: I’m pretty passionate about fighting cancer, helping others touched by cancer, and anything horse-related so it’s probably no surprise that I give a lot of time and energy to organizations with missions that fit my interests. I am particularly partial to organizations that support young adult cancer survivors since I know first-hand the powerful impact cancer can have on you when diagnosed at that vulnerable stage of life. Do some research though. As you can imagine, there are thousands of organizations focused on cancer so I thoroughly research an organization, meet some of the staff to ensure we ‘click’ and commit to organizations that I feel really need my help (I refuse to help as a volunteer or board member just to list this on my resume).

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There really are SO many volunteer opportunities available throughout the country, even world. Many communities have an organization that lists volunteer opportunities throughout the area (Volunteer Impact is one example in the Detroit area and Volunteer Impact highlights U.S. opportunities). What are some volunteer opportunities you participate in?

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*source: Corporation for National & Community Service.

 

More from the Kentucky Oaks and Derby May 8, 2015

 

There are still so many stories and memories to share from the trip to last week’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. It was like a sensory overload at times for me – so many people and things to see, so many horses to watch, so much to soak in so I wouldn’t miss anything nor forget anything! I took a lot of pictures so I’ve decided to share some visual recaps in the hopes of bringing you a little closer to the fun of this amazing trip.

Twin spires of Churchill Downs

Twin spires of Churchill Downs

The crowd near the grandstands.

The crowd near the grandstands. More than 150,000 attended the Oaks and 170,000+ attended the Derby.

 

American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, performed both days. A really nice guy!

American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, performed both days. A really nice guy!

A good year to win the Derby. :)

A good year to win the Derby. 🙂

In the starting gate!

In the starting gate!

A very deserving display honoring the great Secretariat.

A very deserving display honoring the great Secretariat.

Beautiful Churchill Downs track waiting for the horses.

Beautiful Churchill Downs track waiting for the horses.

Talking with Steve Cauthen, jockey on 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

Talking with Steve Cauthen, jockey on 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

More time with Pat Day, Hall of Fame jockey and all-around nice guy.

More time with Pat Day, Hall of Fame jockey and all-around nice guy.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

I hope you enjoyed the picture show and were able to get a feel for the excitement of the two days. As a horse lover, I, of course, encourage everyone to experience these great races to witness history being made!

 

Highlights of our Kentucky Derby adventure May 4, 2015

KYOaksWow. A simple word to describe our recent experience at the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. A dream come true for me to attend these races where I watched history being made.

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In addition to amazing, sunny weather in Louisville, our days went off without a hitch. We met many people, saw beautiful horses, got autographs from jockeys and ate and drank too much. Frankly, it was an awesome sensory overload!

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There is so much to write and share but believe it or not, it’s difficult to pull it all from my mind to the computer. I keep reliving the sights and sounds, the excitement and nostalgia. I loved this experience, yet I had a few moments of sadness….because it reminded me how much I miss the ability to ride these majestic animals, how much I miss ‘talking horses,’ and how much I miss the peace being at a barn brings to my heart and soul. I am grateful to have this awesome experience.

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Here are some highlights of this great adventure:

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Jockey Pat Day

Jockey Pat Day

Meeting famous jockeys. This may have been one of the best parts of the experience for me. We talked to Pat Day and Steve Cauthen both days, hearing their racing stories, getting autographs and pictures, and simply hanging out. Throughout childhood, I watched Pat Day ride to victory more times than I can remember. He rode one of my favorite horses, Easy Goer, won the Derby on Lil E. Tee and accomplished so much more. Steve Cauthen holds a rare title of Triple Crown jockey (only 10 others). Both of these men are kind, genuine and legends in their industry.

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Kentucky Derby Museum. Only our VIP private lounge provided access to the museum. This great place showcases so much history on the race, the horses and people, and the industry in general. I loved wandering through the exhibits to read facts and see artifacts from races.

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A package deal. We booked a package through Quint Events/Derby Experience. It was tough to swallow the cost but in the end, we were quite pleased with the experience and included options. The package for both the Oaks and Derby included lodging, transportation to/from the track, fast entrance, grandstand box seats, food/drink in a private lounge, live entertainment by Taylor Hicks, jockey meet & greets, gift bags and on site staff assistance. Having someone else plan everything certainly let us enjoy the days a bit more.

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Churchill Downs track ready for the horses!

Churchill Downs track ready for the horses!

The track. Churchill Downs is a beautiful track that makes history. Secretariat still holds the speed record (1973) and only 11 horses have gone on to win the Triple Crown, yet every year another horse wins the Kentucky Derby with the hopes of taking the coveted crown. Maybe American Pharaoh will do it this year?

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Taylor Hicks‘ performance. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Taylor Hicks and his music before this trip. My mom, sisters and nieces are big American Idol fans. I am not so took their word that Taylor was a good performer. And they were right. I’m a fan now. I enjoyed his music quite a bit. He was an incredibly nice, down to earth guy too. We enjoyed talking to him and his band members throughout the day.

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The crowd. History was made on both days with attendance – more than 150,000 for the Oaks and more than 170,000 on Derby day. So many people dressed in their best, with fun hats on men and women, bow ties, bright colors and big smiles. We met some really nice people – whether horse-savvy or not, we were all there to enjoy the days. And as the horses come running down the backstretch, you almost forget which one you’re rooting for as the energy and cheers from the crowd propel the pack to the finish line.

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Lilly and mint julep. The official drinks of the Oaks and Derby, these two drinks pack a punch. I wasn’t keen on trying a mint julep since I don’t like bourbon but I knew I had to try one at the Derby, so of course I did. Every year, more than 120,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs during the Oaks and Derby, requiring more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep ready-to-serve cocktail, 1,000 pounds of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice! The Lilly is the official cocktail of the Oaks, made with vodka and cosmopolitan mix. It was delicious.

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Box seats. We really debated which seats to reserve (of course the price went up the better the view). We ended up with box seats on the third level, which offered a great view of almost the entire track. We weren’t quite at the finish line but close enough (and big screens in the infield showed the entire race). Plus I was thankful for the cover from the shade. The one odd thing we encountered was that seats were missing from our box so we had to find an usher to track down two more chairs for our box-mates.

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Jockey Steve Cauthen

Jockey Steve Cauthen

The infield. Very crowded, slightly chaos is how one might describe this area of the track. From what I’ve heard, people go here to party rather than focus on watching the race. One gentleman we met said to watch for the naked, drunk man running across the top of the porta-potties (we didn’t see this). It’s a much more casual environment. We planned to check out the infield on one of the days but ran out of time so never made it. Watching some antics from our box seats showed a very crowded area. I’m sure it’s fun.

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And of course, the horses. Watching these horses walk to the paddock to get ready, step onto the track for the post-parade, enter the starting gates, then put their heart into the race to the finish absolutely shows the heart, personality, strength and agility each animal possesses and thankfully shares with us. Lovely Maria had a strong showing in her win at the Kentucky Oaks, although I was impressed with I’m a Chatterbox’s come-from-behind third place finish. American Pharaoh was the favorite in the Derby, and he lived up to the hype. Firing Line showed awesome talent as he fought for the lead, and Dortmund demonstrated his speed. Even my choice, Frosted, made a strong showing at the end, reminding us that these races can be any horse’s good day.

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These are events that I highly recommend for anyone to experience. You obviously might enjoy it a tad more if you’re a horse-lover like me, but I think anyone would enjoy the excitement and history packed into these days.

 

On the road to the Kentucky Oaks and Derby April 28, 2015

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If you know me, even just from reading this blog, you know I have loved horses since I was a child. I rode hunter/jumpers for many years until my bone cancer diagnosis and surgery replaced my femur with titanium. One of my jobs before my diagnosis was exercising race horses. Despite not being able to ride anymore, these four-legged amazing creatures are still my favorite animals.

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When I was in junior high my interest expanded to horse racing. I read books on Secretariat, Man O’ War, Ruffian, Affirmed, Seabiscuit and other great horses. I started following horse racing on television, newspapers and magazines (before the internet was a household product). I loved that my papa would start following horses on the road to the Kentucky Derby so we could share our opinions on which horse might win. On the day of the Derby, he would call me from Kentucky where my grandma and he had retired to discuss our picks. I watched the coverage and race on television with my parents, then Papa would call to either congratulate me or discuss the horse who upset our picks. I loved these moments.

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ChurchillDowns

© Chuckvanrens | Dreamstime.com

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The Kentucky Derby is the longest consecutive running sporting event in U.S. history (since 1875), known as the “fastest, most exciting two minutes in sports.” Held for three-year old Thoroughbreds, it is the first jewel of the Triple Crown, three top races that also include the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The Derby is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, race to win. It is held the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

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It made sense I liked horse racing because frankly I like anything to do with horses! The Kentucky Derby has always been a ‘life list’ item (side note: I created a life list because I want to focus on living, not dying.). This race brings together the top performing horses to demonstrate their power, grace, beauty and personality. It also is quite the social event!

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I turn 40 this fall. My husband asked me many times what I wanted or wanted to do to celebrate the milestone. After a few discussions, he decided we would splurge on a trip to Louisville to attend the Derby. I am ecstatic! And grateful to him,  not just for spending the money, but also indulging in an activity that he normally would never think to do (this is one of those examples of doing for your spouse; sort of like our beer tasting adventures! I know we both will have a blast.). Not only will we be at the Kentucky Derby, we will also attend the Kentucky Oaks, which is held annually on the day before the Derby for three-year old fillies (female horses).

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Here are some quick reasons why a trip to Churchill Downs is so exciting:

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Horses – This may be a “duh” word because why go to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks if it’s not to see the horses? Being anywhere near these majestic animals brings such joy and peace to my soul. Their personalities, beauty and strength inspire and wow me. The fillies and colts running in the Kentucky Oaks and Derby are among the top three-year old horses in the country, possibly the world.

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Jockeys & trainers – I have such admiration and respect for these people who devote their lives to horses, managing the many ups and downs I imagine this industry brings to their lives. Being a jockey takes so much talent, strength, courage and patience. Our package lets us meet several jockeys. I am thrilled to learn we’ll meet Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown victory in 1978 and is the last jockey to win the Triple Crown (he’s also the youngest jockey to win the Triple Crown), and Pat Day, one of the best jockeys who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991. Pat Day raced when I started following horse racing as a youth so I clearly remember him riding Easy Goer in the Triple Crown races. Easy Goer came in second to Sunday Silence (my favorite at the time) in the Derby and Preakness, then won the Belmont, stopping a Triple Crown victory. I used to tell people I wanted Pat Day to ride my racehorse so it will be exciting to meet him.

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© Stelya | Dreamstime.com

 

The history – The Kentucky Derby began in 1875 and, along with the Oaks, has been run consecutively since at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Secretariat still holds the track record for running the 1 1/4 mile race in 1 minute 59 2/5 seconds in 1973 (a track record for 41 years!). As the first race in the Triple Crown series, the Kentucky Derby sets the stage for a possible Triple Crown win, although there hasn’t been a winner since Affirmed in 1978. Could you imagine if we watched the Kentucky Derby winner this year go on to claim the Preakness and Belmont too?

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People watching – the Kentucky Derby typically welcomes more than 150,000 people on the first Saturday of May. The infield tends to be more of a party, although the race can’t really be seen from there, hence our more expensive package because what’s the point of going to the Derby if you can’t watch the horses? Okay, that’s my opinion! We’ll be in the grandstand where there will also be good people-watching opportunities. From the outrageous hats to the glimpses of celebrities (I’m terrible at recognizing people out of context) to bow ties, I’m sure we’ll be entertained and amused throughout the two days!

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Traditions – From wearing hats to drinking mint juleps to singing “My Old Kentucky Home” before the race (Did you know The University of Louisville marching band has performed this almost every year since 1936?), there are so many traditions surrounding this race. The Kentucky Derby bugle call by Steve Buttleman. A 40-pound blanket of roses, made of more than 450 red roses, is draped over the winning horse. The racetrack, Churchill Downs, is rich in history too. The twin spires of the grandstand, constructed in 1875, are a beautiful monument that I can’t wait to see.

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Ladies – the Kentucky Oaks, known as the “Run for the Lilies,” started in 1875 for three-year old fillies. This race showcases the talent of these amazing fillies, often overlooked by the bigger and sometimes stronger boys in the Derby. There are no fillies in this year’s Kentucky Derby, but a female trainer, Carla Gaines, entered Bolo.

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Post parade – This is one of my favorite parts when watching on television so I can’t wait to be there in person as the horses take their first steps onto the track while “My Old Kentucky Home” is playing.

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So stay with me on this journey to Kentucky as I’ll bring you the horses, hats, people and fun.

 

 
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