Putting out feelers: is this finally the year?

The one and only time I ever attended Rolex was in 2001. It was actually the first event I ever went to, having grown up in h/j land. It was a big part of the reason why I decided to be a working student for an eventer after high school; I remember just being completely blown away by the sport (and the horse park, and Lexington in general). Giltedge won that year, but I fell in love with the fiery little Jacob Two Two and eventing itself.

And yet, I haven’t ever been able to make it back to Rolex. I was just too damn poor for most of my 20’s (plus severely airplane-averse), and for the last couple years pretty much every spare penny has gone to my show budget. But since this year is a more relaxed year for us, and certainly very flexible, maybe it’s finally time toΒ go back.

I’ve already looked at tickets and am thinking about flying into Nashville and then driving down with Hillary. Here’s what I really need to know to get my planning started:

  • Who else is thinking of going?
  • Things I must see/do/eat/drink?
  • Stuff I should bring?
  • People I must meet?
  • Shenanigans and debauchery that I must participate in?

You know… all the important stuff. Let’s plan!

53 thoughts on “Putting out feelers: is this finally the year?

  1. Rolex is a blast and I would love to go back. I’ve been twice, in 2010 and 2011.
    Must bring:
    -Rain boots and a rain jacket
    -Good walking shoes if by any miracle it doesn’t rain

    I loved going to Keeneland this fall and we ate at a restaurant called Saul Good that I really enjoyed

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We bought our tickets the day they went on sale!
    Be prepared for any weather. Last year it went from hot and steamy for dressage to rainy for XC to spotty showers on stadium day.
    Have fun!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a 50/50 on going right now. My old saddle sold, so I’ll have some extra cash sitting about, and fortunately I’ll be staying with a friend which cuts lodging costs. Potentially meeting some YouTubers there as well. We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I live in Lex and can give you tons of recommendations for restaurants, hotels, bars, horse/non horse shenanigans. πŸ™‚ I would bring options-we’ve had hot weather, cold weather, rainy weather the last few. It was cold on XC day this past year, and poured the year before, But then there has been years where I got a sunburn. Its a crap shoot really. Some of my friends from out of town make sure to stay in hotels with kitchenettes and bring their own meals but at least on XC day, I just hop from tailgate to tailgate for snacks and beverages.

    I think Lex is a super fun town. And Rolex just makes it even better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I usually take a backpack and bring everything from a hoodie to rain coat. Some years you need a hat, some years you need a fleece. Good, waterproof shoes are a must.

        I’ve never brought a chair but I also like to wander and actually watch very little of the XC. I’ll see a few jumps and then I hop around and say hi to people. I hate crashes and after a rough Rolex when I first moved here, I only watch certain jumps now.

        I told Hillary I would give her a list of places here that are my favorite local joints.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I was going to say, you better bring your Dubarrys (faux or real!) because it’s like the basic white girl staple on xc day. One day I actually want to buy real ones, and it will be from that booth so I can be fancy and have champagne!

    Hat, sunscreen, layers, and some form of rain gear. I’ve seen it be everything from a sauna to sopping wet and miserable. Rainy days are good excused to go hide in the shopping tents. That’s what I always has trouble with – trying to figure out how to shop when all the excitement is still going on on course!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I live so close that going is cheap and easy for me and go frequently! I have never camped though, so I have zero advice there on that avenue and since I never stay, I don’t know local fun places to eat or experience. What I can second is some quality shoes AND rain boots. It has rained so often there I wonder if Rolex can happen without torrential downpour. On XC day don’t even bring a chair UNLESS you want to stay at one jump. Otherwise, its just too cumbersome since you’ll be walking most of the day anyways. My shoulders get super sore carrying all my shit around because I have yet to learn to wear a comfortable backpack instead of my one shoulder purse. Also, layers. Thin ones you can stuff in said backpack when you get hot. Must stop at Dubarry booth for sure and drink some champagne and canoodle with the hot dudes. Also if there’s a meet and greet I recommend getting in line and meeting them!

    I am 50/50 on going this year since I’ve been several times and the Derby is the weekend after and we are going!


  7. I will be going for the first time this year! I found an awesome deal for lodging on Airbnb, and plan on staying Thursday – Monday (I am road tripping it by myself from Kansas City). I hope to spend some of Monday exploring the rest of the park.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was completely gun-ho to go this year, but for the 3rd year running I have a wedding to go to that weekend. Luckily it’s Sunday, so I figured I could potentially fly out Sunday morning or Saturday night. Just need someone willing to save me a spot in a car and in a bed… We’ll see!


      1. Haha, more like.. I have too many friends that like the last weekend in April. Literally every year I’m like “this year- Rolex!” and then come January I find out that the only weekend I had plans for is the weekend someone important wants to get married. C’mon, people!


        1. The only recognized event that I wanted to go to this spring is that weekend, but I kinda think Rolex wins out. Tell those people to get married in June like everyone else.


  9. I’m thinking about it. Would like to but am not sure yet.

    If I go again tho the trip will definitely include more bourbon flights πŸ˜‰ also the racetracks are worth a trip if there’s a meet


    1. When I interviewed at UK last fall they took us to Keeneland for the afternoon and it was the best. Like what better way to convince me to come work for you than champagne and horses?!


  10. Haven’t been, but thought about going this year.. Decided I’ll save my money for WEG in two years instead. However, I heard that whiskey distilleries are must. And.. a little hint. If you don’t want to pay to watch dressage.. you have full access to the warm up ring, which is pretty great. And you can watch all the tests on the big screen… Not sure you want to be cheap if you’re going to go, but a friend went a couple years in a row and felt the warm up ring and watching on the big screen was a great way to go…


      1. ha ha. Me too… I just didn’t want anyone to think I felt dressage wasn’t equally as important. I mean, it is. It’s just boring. And in warm up you can hear the coaches which is AWESOME. You know, for me to take that info home and apply to my horse. So we are 4* ready πŸ˜‰


  11. I was all about going this year (big girl job! have paycheck!) until apparently my younger brother has to like, graduate high school or something? And apparently skipping that in favor of Rolex would be frowned upon… haven’t figured out why yet.


      1. They graduate the next weekend, but getting to New Mexico from SC and the $$ and time off involved in all that pretty much puts a no-go on the thing. Just keep telling myself it’s okay, I live 30 minutes from Tryon… WEG anyone?


  12. Yay!! I have been to the last five or so, and every year is amazing (despite the fact that I’m always working). My main suggestion is to pack everything.. people have mentioned it, but damn I still can’t figure out how Kentucky manages to experience all the seasons in one weekend. Rain gear, sun gear, cold gear, you will need it all somehow. If you go, I think tickets for stadium are essential, but you could skip on dressage seats if you wanted. From around the stadium you can see in if you’d like to catch individual riders. My advice is to watch them warm up. It’s really cool to watch what each rider does with their horse. Plus you’ll get up much closer by warm up than you will in the stadium! I’ll be there so I hope to see you again!


  13. I live in Nicholasville and my family goes every year. It is so nice to hear all the great things you guys have to say about Ky and Lexington!! Thank you!!

    We do tend to have all the weather in April. One year it even snowed!

    You can bring a chair and leave it at say the head of the lake (a super popular place for people to just sit and watch) and then feel free to leave it and go walk the course. People do that all the time.

    You can bring in drinks. Any kind of drink!! So feel free to pack a cooler πŸ™‚

    You can always sign up to do course walks with the competitors. That is so fun!

    Also, if you volunteer (there are a million different ways to volunteer), you get to go to Rolex for free!

    I hope you have a great time!!!


        1. I keep my horses at home (we have a little farm out near Hamburg) and I ride with Julie Congleton out near Midway. I think my email is on my blog profile thing, so shoot me a message and I’ll give you some suggestions (and some stay away froms).


  14. I’ll be there with a couple of horsey friends from here in Oklahoma in tow! I’d definitely recommend bringing rain boots and a rain jacket (and maybe even a spare rain jacket). And sunscreen.


  15. I will be going with a group of people, looking forward to a great time! Ditto above, lots of apparel for any kind of weather and very comfortable shoes. I really like my backpack with a frame/stool to sit on, I can carry stuff and have a chair at the same time.


  16. We have attended the past 3 yrs and love it!

    Bring rain gear – esp boots! You never know what the weather will be from day 1 to day 4 – so a variety of options are good.

    Sign up for all the giveaways at vendor booths – I won my choice of a Charles Owens helmet 3 yrs ago. A backpack is the way to go to carry money, water bottle, and to hold all your freebies loot.

    Go eat at Red State BBQ one evening – be prepared to wait an hour or so for a table – looks like a dive, but oh so good!

    If you like craft beer, KY has some seriously good ones – our fav is Country Boy. Galvin’s in downtown Georgetown is a great place to sample local beers and eat.


    1. Our breweries are fun and if the weathers good most have nice patios (except CB-what were they thinking?). We end up at Ethereal a lot and and now the new Cider one since its not far from our house.

      Red State is awesome and there is a new place in Georgetown called Local Feed that’s cute and has pretty good food.


  17. It’s been several years since I’ve gone, but I’m going this year! I second everyone’s comments about bringing clothes for every possible weather scenario imaginable. If you’re horse-poor like me and can’t afford the Dubarrys OR Fauxbarrys, plastic rain boots work pretty well, too! In fact, I surprised a friend with tickets to Rolex once, and used a pair of cute rain boots as the gift bag – tucked the Rolex tickets inside. Super cute, if I may say so…. πŸ˜›


  18. Absolutely go to Rolex! This is the first year in a long time that I won’t be attending (stupid vet school finals…boo). I lived in Lexington for a year and grew up in KY, so I’d be happy to give you recommendations for anything, though Hillary is basically an expert already. Like a few other people mentioned, Wallace Station Deli, Windy Corner (both owned and operated by same company and so delicious), Malone’s steak house, Red State BBQ (best I’ve ever had), etc. There are a ton of great restaurants in downtown Lexington as well. Of course there are the bourbon trail tours and big thoroughbred farm tours if you have some extra time and want to check out more of the area.

    Like others have mentioned, the weather in KY is super unpredictable at all times, but especially in the spring. Show jumping day last year started out literally like 80* and sunny, and ended with a torrential downpour. I recommend lots of layers and definitely bring your rain gear haha.


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