Lexington, Ky., April 10, 2006 — They often worked in obscurity, training and grooming some of the finest blooded horses in the country.
Under their attentive care, the Saddlebred horses in their charge went on to fame and glory, and are immortalized in oil paintings on paneled walls in museums and grand old homes, while the horsemen themselves endured the usual humiliations and prejudices, and often went to their graves in relative anonymity.
Until recently, the legacy of black horsemen in the Saddlebred world was mostly relegated to fading memories of their family members. Now, the American Saddlebred Museum at the Kentucky Horse Park wants to pay homage to these forgotten black horsemen with an exhibition in their honor.
Last year the museum featured a small display of memorabilia from local black horsemen and it proved so popular that museum curator Kim Skipton has launched a campaign to expand their collection into a full-blown, year-long exhibition to begin in February 2007. The museum wants to borrow photos, paintings, trophies, riding apparel, tack and equipment, drawings, sculptures, notebooks or anything else that tells a piece of the story. The items should predate the 1980s.
“Any time we are in a position to right a wrong, to credit the disenfranchised, to embrace the marginalized or to heal emotional wounds, we want to jump on that occasion and play a role,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “We want to help get the word out and assist with the acquisition of items for this exhibition by encouraging folks to check their family scrapbooks and treasure chests for heirlooms and memorabilia.”
Anyone with memorabilia from the Saddlebred industry’s black horsemen who would be willing to loan the items to the American Saddlebred Museum should contact museum curator Kim Skipton at [email protected] or 859-259-2746, ext 312. Visit www.americansaddlebredmuseum.org for more information on the museum.