arena to be built
at Oldham County fairgrounds
want a horse show
similar to Shelby Countys
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (March 2005) Many Oldham County
residents feel that the county has needed a horse arena for a long time.
In a county that has a diversity of horse breeds, an arena or show ring
would keep a growing industry within the county, horse enthusiasts say.
A building is desired that would be serviceable for all types
of things, said Kathy Hockersmith, a member of the Oldham County
Fair Board who has been involved in 4-H activities in the county.
There has been no quality arena in the county for the last 15 to 20
years, said Hockersmith, and 4-H clubs have had to travel elsewhere
to compete in a show arena.
The fair board is taking bids for an arena to be built behind the existing
Merchants Building at the fairgrounds. The Merchant Building houses
pageants and events that need to be held under roof. The site is what
used to be the old tractor pulling area of the fairgrounds.
Compared to what the county now has, something is better than
nothing, said Hockersmith. The only area at the fairgrounds for
horse shows is a track used for demolition car derbies. The ground is
deeply embedded with glass from the many collisions held on the spot,
making it unsuitable for livestock shows.
What is needed is an all-weather arena, said Hockersmith. The fairgrounds
already has a nice, large barn, but Hockersmith believes there are still
ways to improve the facilities. So many people have expressed
an interest in such a project, said Hockersmith.
She said members of the fair board have even spoken to a local dog club
about playing host to an area-wide dog show at the fairgrounds. Goats
and llamas are some alternative cattle crops, and owners might consider
shows and herd sales if an arena were available at the fairgrounds.
Clinics and fund raising are also possible events to be held at an arena.
Any event held would open a whole new venue for the county, said Hockersmith.
There is such as diverse group of horse people within the county that
a future goal of the fair board is to play host to horse shows comparable
to the Shelby County Horse Show. Different horse types to be found in
Oldham County include Icelandic, Arabian, thoroughbreds and quarter
In the past, the Oldham County horse shows have been almost at the same
level as the Shelby County Horse Show, said professional trainer and
judge Howard Rea. Before the population of the county exploded, the
American Quarter Horse Shows were so big you couldnt get
another trailer in, said Rea. With the right facility and management,
Rea believes Oldham County could play host to a show comparable to that
Linda Hamrock agrees that with the right person to manage and promote
an Oldham County arena, the entire county would benefit. An arena
would not be just for horse people, said Hamrock.
Hamrock heads the Ballardsville High Riders 4-H Club. The 4-H clubs
have to hold their district show at Lakeside Arena in Frankfort, Ky.,
because there is no place in the county for one. Lakeside is booked
almost solid year round, said Hamrock. she added that an arena could
be used year-round in Oldham County for different purposes.
There are so many people in the county that ride, said Hamrock.
Talk of a potential horse park in Oldham County has stalled, but she
feels this would also be a facility the entire county could enjoy.
Of the 13 4-H clubs that meet in the community, six are horse clubs,
said Kelly Woods, Oldham County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development.
An arena would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the accomplishments
of 4-H members, said Woods.
Oldham Countys tourism director, Diana Polsgrove, said that based
on the success of the Shelby County Horse Show, she sees no reason why
Oldham County could not do the same. It could be very profitable,
The economy could be boosted from visitors staying in town for shows,
shopping and visiting restaurants while in town. It would be a
tremendous boon to the county, she said.
Rea is a former president of the fair board and has spent 27 years as
a 4-H leader in Kentucky. He said the area, not just the county, needs
an arena. In Indiana, every county has a 4-H facility, said
Rea. Weve shown at many of them.
Reas children put a lot of time into 4-H programs, as did their
father, both scoring the high point at the state show. Rea recently
testified before a subcommittee of the Kentucky Legislature, presenting
the need for an incentive program. Kentucky is loosing a tremendous
amount of horses, said Rea.
Horses are not considered livestock, he said. When a breeding to a stallion
is sold, a 6 percent sales tax must be paid. For this reason, many stallions
have moved out of the state and into Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas or
elsewhere. Were not asking for a tax cut, said Rea.
He wants to see the money used to establish an incentive program.
Former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones tried to save the horse industry
in Kentucky through the Kentucky Equine Education Program. Rea compared
the horse industry to Kentuckys vanishing tobacco crop. Once theyre
gone, there will be no replacing them, he said.
The area comprising the Oldham County Fair Grounds is privately owned.
A nonprofit Friends of the Oldham County Fair group has
recently formed to oversee horse arena efforts. One goal of this group
is to request funding, and $2,000 has come from Fiscal Court for general
fair improvements. In-kind donations are sought, such as labor and a
rubberized material that Hockersmith has seen and thinks could be used
for the floor of the arena.
For more information, contact Kathy Hockersmith at (502)
222-1983 or Oldham County Cooperative Extension agent Kelly Woods at
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