Lyle Lovett, the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, will be at the Rolex Three Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park Friday in a different kind of performance — not as a singer, but as a rider in the reining competition.
Lovett, an accomplished horseman who raises and breeds quarter horses and competes in reining events, attended the reining competition at last fall's Alltech World Equestrian Games to watch his horse, Smart and Shiney, compete, and he performed at the Games' closing ceremony.
Lovett, who arrived in Lexington Wednesday, will ride in the team competition on the Ariat corporate team with Shawn Flarida, a member of Team USA that won the gold medal in reining at the Games, and Lisa Coulter, a Canadian who also competed in reining.
"I was very excited reining was added to the Rolex, and I was invited by Ariat to be part of their team," Lovett said Wednesday. He has been competing in non-professional reining events since 2004.
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Lovett said he'd been in Lexington many times, but was never able to stay for an entire week until the Games. "I got to visit some of the farms. The people couldn't have been nicer," he said.
"Just watching in that beautiful arena, the idea just to make a run was too great an opportunity to pass up," Lovett said of his participation in the reining event.
He raises and breeds quarter horses on his Texas ranch, not far from Tim and Colleen McQuay's ranch, McQuay Stables. The McQuays train his reining horses. Tim McQuay was a member of Team USA at WEG.
Recently, Lovett was a Top 10 finisher in the 2011 National Reining Breeders Classic in the non-professional class on Smart and Shiney. He also participates each year in the National Reining Horse Association's Celebrity Slide, an event to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oklahoma.
In 2010, his contributions to the reining industry were honored when the Reining Horse Sports Foundation established the Lyle Lovett Distinguished Service Award.
At a horse show with other competitors, Lovett said he is not considered a celebrity but is accepted as just a regular cowboy.
"The thing you can absolutely trust at a horse event is, there is nothing anybody is interested in more than his horse," he chuckled. "They're there for the horse show. Everything else is incidental."