LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland is looking to expand Fayette County students’ knowledge of Kentucky’s horse industry.
For the tenth year, nearly 1,800 Fayette County Public Schools fifth graders went to the track for its annual educational program.
Equine professionals are teaching students about the state’s leading economic assets. The kids also learn how some of the top equine specialists, jockeys and fans find their way back to Keeneland year after year.
Keeneland’s community relations manager Lauren Sparrow says the program gives students a look at historic places in their state. “Many students who live here right in the state of Kentucky and Fayette County don’t realize how large of an economic impact that racing instills — has on all of us in this area,” Sparrow said.
Students toured and interacted in areas all over the track. Keeneland opened in 1936. Sparrow says it gives students a perspective into possible equine careers.
“You can kind of see a lightbulb in their mind. They are excited about it and you can see the wheel turning of how they think that they might want to do that in the future,” Sparrow said.
Remi Bellocq is the executive director of equine studies at Bluegrass Community & Technical College. The school offers a two-year program in equine studies.
Bellocq says the equine workforce experiences regular shortages and is always seeking people who can specialize in horse care.
“Our role is not only ours but other equine studies programs here in Lexington and around the country. It’s important that we restock our workforce with kids who are passionate and love what they do. But also have the training and the skills to do it very well,” Bellock said.
He says students who major in equine studies often are like athletes who go to work in the pros.
“When they graduate and go work for a big racing stable here at Keeneland or Belmont Park or one of the big horse farms, it’s like going from college football to the NFL. There’s a really big expectation because it’s for real when you go to that level.”
Keeneland hopes to continue teaching students about horses for years to come.