Enjoy The Ride At Rock Creek

Managing Editor
The Voice-Tribune

If the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show is the Kentucky Derby for Saddlebreds, next week’s Rock Creek Horse Show is the equivalent of the unofficial Saddlebred Triple Crown.

“It has been known as that, historically,” said David Mount, Rock Creek Riding Club president.

The 76th annual horse show, which begins June 4 and runs through June 8 at Rock Creek Riding Club in St. Matthews, features competitors and their horses in a variety of events, including Show Pleasure Driving and Fine Harness, classes in which horses and ponies are hitched to wheeled carts, and both Three- and Five-Gaited, classes that refer to how a horse and its rider move around the ring.

“The show’s heyday was in the ’60s and ’70s,” Mount said, “but we’ve been successfully building it back to there.”

Never been? Consider attending. Not only are tickets priced right – $10 for general admission; $350 for a box seat for 6 for the entire 5-night show – but the 5-day event is a different perspective of equines and the people who love them.

“Saddlebreds are show horses. They got their start back in the 1800s when the wealthy people in New York would … take them to Central Park to show off,” Mount said. “They were the fancy horse to have back in the day. They’re not built for speed like the horses running in the Derby. They’re built for show.”

There isn’t any betting on the ponies, but attendees do tend to dress up – “more so on Friday and Saturday night,” said Mount – and there will be recognizable celebrity faces in attendance.

“It’s very enjoyable. There’s a lot of variety and vendors – a lot to keep you occupied. Even if you don’t like horses, there’s a lot to do,” Mount said.

But if you do like horses, you’re in luck. “This is the one show where you can get up close and personal to them. You’re right there. You’re right in their face,” said Mount. “It’s really a neat experience.”

Rock Creek History

The Rock Creek Riding Club began on April 21, 1929 when the founders elected Mrs. Henning Chambers, the mother of Warner Jones, as its first president and hired Bayse Howell as its first stable manager. The original club consisted of 37 acres, stables and a pre-Civil War house, which currently is used as the clubhouse. The bridle paths through Seneca and Cherokee Park were the main draw and are still in existence today.

The early club members were also a “wagering lot” with an uncanny desire to compete. And compete they did, in 1933, when they put on the first Rock Creek Horse Show for the pleasure of the membership alone. By 1937, it became a two-day horse show open to the public with other stables represented and invited to compete. From these humble important beginnings has emerged the superb, nationally recognized horse show that it is today.

On May 1, 1954, Helen and Charles Crabtree took over as manager/trainers, which immediately upgraded the status of the club and started a tradition of excellence which is unparalleled in the Saddlebred industry.

Since then, the Rock Creek Riding Club has been home to many Hall of Fame and World’s Champion caliber trainers, instructors, exhibitors and horses. The club has continued to uphold its tradition as being the premier Saddlebred facility in Louisville and one of the oldest continually operating riding clubs in the country.

The 76th Annual Rock Creek Horse Show

June 4-8

7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Rock Creek Riding Club, 3114 Rock Creek Drive


General admission tickets are available at the gate for $10. Box seats are $350 for 6 seats for the entire 5-night show. To reserve a box, call 502.647.0076.