The Inner Bluegrass has long claimed the title of Horse Capital of the World. Early farmers found that our water and soil produced the ideal conditions for raising horses. Today, there are over 400 horse farms in the area. Many of the most distinguished farms have been in the same families for generations. For these farmers, good stewardship of their land is the secret to success in raising great horses. The trees of Horse Country are an integral part of farm operations, and many of the land owners are concerned about the future of the trees on their farms.
Many of the farms of Horse Country include intact woodland pastures, where large, open-grown trees have shaded the grass for hundreds of years, long before there were any farms. These woodland pastures, created by drought and bison, became the farms of today. Take away the fences, barns and homes, and many of these woodland pastures would look much like they did in 1779, when Lexington was settled.
Other farms have lost their woodland pastures over time, or did not have them in the first place. These farms often have extensive tree plantings in tree pens and along roads, as well as natural hedge-rows of trees along property lines and creeks.
The beautiful landscape of the Bluegrass would be sterile and uninteresting if not for the trees. They are an integral part of Horse Country. We need to do a better job of selecting appropriate trees and planting them in appropriate places if we are to ensure a long future for the Trees of Horse Country.
For a slide show of the Trees of Horse Country, click any of the pictures. Over the next few months, we will be featuring more of the Trees of Horse Country