The Explorium of Lexington is joining with lovers of Arabian horses to create the children's museum's first traveling exhibit.
Visitors will enter a Bedouin tent, try on native clothing, learn about the variety of equine disciplines in which Arabians excel and even get a feel for what it's like to ride the horse via an Equi-Ciser — just like real jockeys.
The exhibit, which is currently under construction, will debut in April and run through June to overlap with the Egyptian Event, an Arabian show and competition at the Kentucky Horse Park June 3-7.
That show has been held at the park for 34 years, said Anna C. Bishop, executive director of the Pyramid Society, which sponsors the show and promotes the Arabian breed.
A festive competition that also features shows and seminars, the event draws participants from around the world and is "a cross between a garden party and a horse show," she said.
Yet, she said, in recent years the number of Arabian breeders in the United States has declined. Some families find that a new generation isn't interested in joining the horse business.
Those who aren't part of the industry might be leery of getting involved because they feel they don't have the money or connections to break into the game, Bishop explained.
The fact that there are few large Arabian breeding operations in Central Kentucky also makes it a challenge to get local people invested in the breed, she said.
It's hoped that the Explorium exhibit will reach young people who are interested in horses and draw them specifically to the Arabian. Because one of the most famous Arabians is a literary figure — the Black Stallion — the Pyramid Society also has a literacy program that will be a part of the exhibit. A $20,000 grant from the Pyramid Society, Markel Insurance Company and the Arabian Horsemens Distress Fund supports the exhibit..
The short-term goal is creating synergy between the Explorium event and the Egyptian Event, said Lee Ellen Martin, Explorium executive director. The specifics about the package deals will be released closer to the show opening, she said.
The long-term goal is for the exhibit to travel across the country to champion the breed, with the exhibit eventually making its way next spring to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Super Bowl of the Arabian equine world.
Martin said she's hopeful this is just the first of several traveling exhibits the Explorium will create.