How do you celebrate when you are the Horse Capitol of the World? With a horse of course! Or when you are LexArts, the arts and cultural council for Lexington, Kentucky, you celebrate with gusto, creatively, and with lots of horses, placed where people of all ages can enjoy them.
No other public art initiative in Lexington’s history captured the hearts and minds of our citizens and visitors as Horse Mania did back in 2000 and 2010. So much so that bringing it back in 2020 seemed like a great idea. However, it wasn’t to be. A global pandemic made it unwise, if not impossible, to launch such an ambitious initiative for 2020 and 2021.
Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Although terribly disappointing at the time, they are ultimately better. A great example, pushing Horse Mania to 2022 allowed it to coincide with LexArt’s 50th Anniversary and Keeneland’s third hosting of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship – the ultimate celebration of Thoroughbred racing and breeding. It also created an opportunity to form important strategic partnerships with Keeneland, Maker’s Mark and Breeders’ Cup resulting in Trilogy, three painted horses that served as a 2020 warm-up for the
main event – Horse Mania 2022.
Maker’s Mark and Keeneland went on to be presenting sponsors of Horse Mania 2022 with Breeders’ Cup as the major underwriter of the four Sister Cities’ horses representing Deauville, France; County Kildare, Ireland; Shinhidaka, Japan; and Newmarket, England. These horses were incorporated into Horse Mania 2022.
A generous grant from The Kloiber Foundation made Horse Play 2022, an accompanying program of Horse Mania 2022, possible. Every public and private school in Fayette County was offered either a horse (for high schools) or a foal (for elementary and middle schools) to adorn. This program also allowed for a group of high school students to intern at LexArts and help with the administration of Horse Play.
A heartfelt program called Commonwealth Compassion: Horses of Hope sponsored by Independence Bank honored three communities hardest hit by the December 2021 tornadoes that devastated towns in western Kentucky. Graves, Hopkins, and Warren Counties were each gifted a horse to paint and proceeds from the auction of those horses were directed toward efforts to rebuild those communities.
To see Lexington come alive in early summer 2022 as Horse Mania horses and foals found their temporary homes around town was truly exciting and, honestly, well worth the wait. Under the leadership of Horse Mania 2022 Co-Chairs John Cioci and Ken Gish, LexArts staff, artists, volunteers and community partners put in thousands of hours to make this happen.