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Coming Out of the Shadows… the Search for Black Horsemen



 

            LEXINGTON, KY -- 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.



George "Dan" Brown, who was born in Bourbon County, honed

his craft there and at Dixiana Farm in Lexington before moving to

Ohio, where opportunities for black horsemen were greater.

Last year the museum featured a small display of memorabilia from local black horsemen and it proved so popular that museum curator Kim Skipton spearheaded 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.

 

John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park observed, “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.  I am very proud of our friends at the American Saddlebred Museum for taking the initiative to bring the legacy of these gentlemen out of the shadows and into the light to be publicly honored.  The park is delighted to have the American Saddlebred Museum as part of our National Horse Center, and 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.” 

In 1970, William R. "Junior" Seay of Akron, Ohio, was the first black man

 to win a class in the Lexington Junior League Horse Show at The Red Mile.

 He is pictured here with Stonewall's Crescendo at Lexington.


              Anyone with memorabilia from the Saddlebred industry’s black horsemen who would be willing to loan them to the
American Saddlebred Museum should contact museum curator Kim Skipton at ashmks@mis.net or 859-259-2746, ext 312. For information on the museum, click on www.americansaddlebredmuseum.org.

 

 

Park Hours and Rates: From March 15-October 31, the park is open seven days a week.  Admission then is $15 for adults, $8 for children 7-12.  Children six and under are always admitted free of charge.  Admission includes the American Saddlebred Museum.

 

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