Located in the sloping hills of Nicholasville, Kentucky is a serene farm with some of the finest horses to race the track. It is not your average horse farm. Taylor Made Farm is changing relationships between the racing horse businesses and the public.
The blue grass state, particularly Lexington and surrounding areas, is known for three things, says one local: “Race horses, bourbon, and the UK Wildcats!” Lexington means Keeneland, where the Breeders Cup is held annually, The Red Mile for harness racing; it is home to the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, and is only an hour’s drive to Churchill Downs. “People from all over the world come to Kentucky for the best race horses,” says a Taylor Made employee during a tour. The tour is just part of Taylor Made’s plan to reach out to fans and horse enthusiasts, pioneering a trend in the racing world.
During Taylor Made Farm’s “Fan Days” dedicated to 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, Taylor Made President Duncan Taylor explained the philosophy. “We’ve started a thing called ‘Horse Country,’ where 28 farms have gotten together … inviting people in to see what we do and see behind the scenes.” He introduced California Chrome to a bevy of fans. “We just want to share him with people and let them be able to enjoy the horse … Taylor Made Farms is family owned, family operated, built on long-lasting relationships, honesty, and horsemanship. We built this company, and pride ourselves, on our Christian values.” Taylor met with California Chrome fans, inviting any questions and offering a chance to purchase merchandise from a welcoming staff under a snow-white tent. His brother, Taylor Made Vice President Ben Taylor, personally ensured visitors enjoyed their time and encouraged visiting the stables. Both men encouraged feedback on farm and tour operations. It all creates a new mindset, where people not involved in the high dollar horse industry converse with those who own thousands of acres in horse country.
Stable operations differ as well. In the stallion barns, rather than a long row of stalls under one roof, the stallions live two to a barn, several barns along a graceful walkway. “Stallions are territorial,” explains a barn staff member. “We found they get along better, and are better behaved, when they are separated; still, “they can be close together” as horses are herd animals. The ground’s architecture was carefully considered when built, from winding, natural stone steps to the cement pads before each barn stall door “to keep from creating mud puddles … horses have a habit of moving, stomping in the dirt when waiting to get into their stall.” The walkways are made of durable, heavy-duty mats (the same used in stalls); the thick overhead foliage of ancient trees shadow office entryways. And the horses: fed a special diet, groomed each day, and living in immaculate stalls that are cleaned twice daily. They perk their ears at visitors, curiosity revealed in intelligent, quiet eyes.
The “California Chrome Fan Days” included the management team, key employees, and stable hands mingling with visitors to discuss horses, horse racing, and the farm. Every face was smiling, every host welcoming. Visitors rode a hay wagon throughout the farm to meet and greet both humans and horses alike. They snapped photos of the mares, scratched the noses of weanlings, and asked many questions, from farm management to California Chrome’s favorite snack.
Taylor Made encourages farm tours, and interested parties can contact them at 1-859-885-3345 or online HERE. Besides buying and selling, the farm boards horses and offers assistance in Thoroughbred services. Learn more HERE. It is a three hour drive from Nashville.