After 37 years of white fences, the Kentucky Horse Park is changing with the times and going to black.
Painting the fences — about 30 miles of them — will begin sometime next week, weather permitting, said Jamie Link, park executive director.
The reason for the change: money.
Maintaining white fences costs at least three times what it will cost to keep up black ones, something most horse farms in Central Kentucky realized decades ago.
Link said white paint alone costs much more — about $550 a barrel compared with $190 a barrel for black paint — and white fences have to be painted every two years, compared to four for black ones, adding higher labor costs.
He said the change will save an estimated $50,000 or more a year.
"I would rather spend the money on horses and horse park programs than on keeping fences painted white," Link said.
He said the Kentucky Horse Park Commission has signed off on the change, but some fans will probably take it hard. The park was established in 1978 to honor the state's equine heritage, and it has become a world-class destination, used for horse competitions and other events, including state cross-country meets and cheerleading competitions.
Fences around show areas, including the dressage and jumping rings, will remain white for visibility.
"We know there's going to be some people very upset, and I appreciate the tradition, but there's more important things," Link said. "And if you look at all the horse farms, except for Calumet, almost everybody uses black fence."