The girls and I played hooky from school last Friday and snuck south to the rolling hills and gorgeous scenery of Sun Valley Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. Was it worth missing school to get an up close and personal tour of a working horse farm complete with newborn foals? Absolutely. Did the kids lose their minds with excitement and refuse to listen to me the entire weekend? Absolutely. Such is life.
Location is Everything – Take a Road Trip!
This sweet family-owned gem is about three hours or less from a handful of major cities – including Indianapolis, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Nashville. Located near Lexington, KY, you’ll find lots to do in the area as well, including Woodford Reserve Distillery which is located (literally) right next door.
If you happen to be road tripping through the area, this would be a great place to stop and stretch your legs. It’s only about 30 minutes off I-75 and 15 minutes from I-64. The tour lasts for approximately 90 minutes, so it’s just the right length of time to shake off the road weariness and enjoy the sunshine.
Sun Valley Farm is in the heart of horse country, and believe me when I tell you, Kentucky means business when it comes to horses. We were lucky enough to visit during the Keeneland Spring Meet, which hosted a great event for the kiddos on Saturday morning.
Family Owned & Operated
Sun Valley Farm was started by Jan and Barry Butzer, and they are still there every single day! The love and care they have for the horses and their way of life is really amazing. They know every horse by name, know their lineage, and all sorts of little details about their personalities.
The tour itself is led by their son Brett. You couldn’t find a more qualified tour guide. He grew up on this farm and could easily answer every single question our tour group asked. He has personally helped birth over 20 foals and is happy to share his knowledge and love for the mares and their babies.
During our tour with Brett, both Jan and Barry were working in the barns, and both stopped to share information and chat with the group. Jan was also kind enough to hang out with Abby when she decided to relentlessly stalk the (adorable) barn cats.
The Mares and their Babies
The real standout feature of this farm tour is the chance to get up close and personal with the mares and foals. The tour takes you through two large barns on the property, which house the horses. These are real working barns – not a gimmicky tourist trap.
We even witnessed a momma receiving some stitches post childbirth. Sure, I had a lot of explaining to do – the kids had A LOT of questions – but it was educational to see the type of care that these animals receive.
Brett was very informative about the history and lineage of each horse we saw (and there were a lot!). Our group ranged from total equine novices (myself) to kids who only wanted to pet a horse (my kids) to actual horse enthusiasts who knew a lot about the background of racehorses and were looking for in-depth, specific answers to their questions.
Brett was a natural at answering the technical and advanced questions related to breeding and birthing and was totally at ease helping excited kiddos gently approach a newborn foal.
A little bit of history on the farm
The tour ends with a short walk around the historic farmhouse on the property. The farmhouse was built in 1831 by Samual Pepper, the son of master distiller Elijah Pepper.
The grounds are beautiful, and you can imagine what it must have been like to live there before WiFi. Slave quarters still stand on the property as well, which provided a chance to introduce some history lessons to the girls (again… A LOT of questions).
I find it totally fascinating to think about the rich history of places like this. The same lawn that my kids played on was home to so many stories and so many lives.
Sun Valley Farm Tours are a unique experience
My knowledge of Thoroughbreds, breeding, racing and almost all things equine related was about zero before this trip. So it’s safe to say I learned a lot. The fun thing about the tour of Sun Valley is that it’s equally great for adults, kids, and every single level of equine interest.
Kentucky horses are BIG business, but Sun Valley Farm doesn’t feel like a business at all. The tours of Sun Valley will give you a fascinating peek into the complex world of horse breeding, but what really stands out is the heartwarming relationship between the owners and their horses.
The Butzer family is personally involved in the care of each and every animal on their farm, working well past dinner and then back at it come sunrise. More than a business, the farm here feels like a true labor of love – which is undoubtedly the greatest thing about Sun Valley Farm. Oh – And also the reason Sun Valley Farm Tours are ranked as the #1 thing to do in Versailles, Ky on Trip Advisor, with a five-star rating.
If you are interested in checking it out you can find Sun Valley Mares HERE!