The Drag Queens of Horses

By Spencer Jenkins


Kentucky's long-standing relationship with horse racing has shaped the state's history and identity. From the first race held in Lexington in 1789 to the annual Kentucky Derby, the sport has left an indelible mark on the Bluegrass State. With numerous farms and training centers dotting the rolling hills, the love for horses runs deep in Kentucky's culture and economy. It's no wonder that the state is recognized as the "Horse Capital of the World."

But have you ever heard of the “Saddlebred Horse Capital of the World”? It is also in Kentucky — in Shelbyville.

Saddlebred horses are a distinctly American breed with origins tracing back to the 18th century. Originally bred for their diverse skill set, they were highly valued for their strength, agility and versatility. Today, the Saddlebred is a popular exhibition horse and is known for its high-stepping movements and beautiful conformation.

Referred to as the "Peacock of the Show Ring," these magnificent creatures possess an undeniable flair for the dramatic, much like the fabulous drag queens that perform on the stage of PLAY Louisville. Both Saddlebreds and drag queens captivate audiences with their dazzling performances, making them the perfect pairing to explore.

The Shelbyville Horse Show is a much-anticipated annual event that showcases the finest breeds from around the country. With expert riders demonstrating and competing on magnificent horses, it is a true celebration of equestrian talent and passion. Horse enthusiasts from near and far make their way to Shelbyville every year to witness this spectacle of grace, beauty and power.

One such enthusiast is none other than a judge from RuPual’s Drag Race and former cast member for Queer Eye for the Straight Guys, Carson Kressley. Kressley has attended the horse show for years. 

“Some of my favorite memories are of Kentucky in the summertime running from horse show to horse show. It’s a slice of Americana,” Kressley said. “Living in New York City most of the time, Kentucky is such a change of pace for me and I love it.”

Saddlebred horses, much like the fabulous drag queens of the entertainment world, possess an undeniable charisma and penchant for the dramatic that sets them apart from other breeds.. 

If you're visiting Kentucky in August, be sure to bring along some cash for the queens and for the thrilling saddlebred show.

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