I recently attended the Hermitage Classic at the prestigious and historical Hermitage Farm in Goshen Kentucky, which is roughly an hour’s drive from Louisville.
While most people might automatically think of horses when they think of the Hermitage Classic, its as much about the arts and culture as it is about horses. Owner Steve Wilson is also one of the owners of the 21c Hotel in downtown Louisville, which is known for its culture and art scene, so much so that there’s art displayed on the bottom floor regularly, where they also hold events. (they had the opening reception for Idea Festival there this year).
The event is hosted by the Original Maker’s Club, Garden & Gun and The Voice Tribune and proceeds of the event benefit Oldham Ahead, which is committed to preserving farmland in Oldham County.
They act as an advocate on growth and development issues, spearheading preservation efforts and works to improve business, agricultural and recreational opportunities.
Girls adorned in fur and masks were propped up on wooden stands amidst a field when we arrived. Around them were circular tables where we dined for the evening, food served via a long buffet table. And of course, in typical Kentucky tradition, the bar didn’t just serve beer, wine and traditional spirits, but Bourbon was on call.
I went for the kick off dinner, however the Hermitage Classic itself is a three day event. While two Spanish guys (gorgeous Spanish guys I might add), presented, the weekend combined a carriage driving competition, offering levels from Limit Preliminary to USEF Advanced. The marathon course meanders through the historic farm grounds.
Often compared to compulsory figures in figure skating, the dressage test consists of a prescribed sequence of movements judged against a standard of absolute perfection. The test demonstrates the obedience, grace, regularity of movement, impulsion, correct position and training of the animals.
The cross country marathon competition covers nine miles of course, through open fields, woods and water. They horses must also negotiate the challenge of hazards built to test the fitness, stamina and obedience of the animals and the judgment and capability of the driver.
On the third day (this year, it was on Sunday, September 23), there’s a cones competition. The object of the cones competition in combined driving is to negotiate through a series of narrow gates within the time allowed. This phase tests the fitness and agility of the horse and the accuracy and skill of the driver.
If you are thinking of heading to anywhere close to Louisville or Lexington, time your trip around the Hermitage Classic if you can, scheduled every year in September. It’s also a beautiful time to be in the state of Kentucky.
For more on the greater Louisville area, check out my post on Idea Festival, the Churchill Downs Taste of Innovation, and a handful of restaurant reviews in We Blog the World’s Kentucky food/wine section. The experience of 21c Hotel can be found here.
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