Question of the Week: Going to Rolex


Q: I’m planning on attending the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for the first time! What do I need to know? What should I bring so I don’t forget anything important?

A: That’s great, you’re going to have a blast! There is a lot to see and do at Rolex, so it’s good to be prepared. Assuming your hotel reservations are already made, prepare for a rather long wait to park at the Kentucky Horse Park, mainly on Saturday (cross-country day). So arrive extra early if you want to get in before the first horse is on course!

If you are coming in early for dressage (Thursday and Friday), the pace is more laid-back and you’ll have plenty of room to explore the shops. On Saturday, the booths are jammed with long lines. So watch a few dressage tests and then check out the bargains that await, as seemingly every tack shop in America has a booth at Rolex! (They are located both outside in tents and in the covered arena.) To avoid spending too much, have a budget or some items in mind before you hit the shops.

To get the most out of cross-country day on Saturday, move around from jump to jump to watch the horses come by. The biggest crowd forms at the Head of the Lake water complex, so come early for a spot there. Everywhere else you can usually get a good view by wandering up at any time. If you’re tired, you can bring a blanket and sit near one of the jumbotron screens, but exploring the whole course is part of the fun.

If you stay for show jumping and the awards ceremony on Sunday, it’s best to purchase a ticketed seat. There are lots of new bleachers available in the outdoor stadium, and unless you have a seat you can’t really access a viewing spot (unlike in years past).

The biggest concern while watching the event is weather. Pack for cold downpours, 80-degree sun, and everything in between – because all of it has been Rolex weather in the past few years. Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. Bring waterproof boots or wellies for tromping through the grass if it rains or there’s heavy dew. You may also want to have an extra pair of sneakers to trade off if one gives you blisters!

Sunscreen and a baseball or straw hat are your best friends in the event of warmer weather. No matter your skin tone, eight hours in the sun will fry you, especially this early in the year! Be sure to bring along extra sunscreen for you and your friends to re-apply.

A backpack or other hands-free carrying bag is also very handy so you can shop, eat and hike without having to hold onto a purse or tote all the time. Something large enough to stash your program, wallet, keys, sunscreen and snacks will do just fine. Speaking of food, it’s always a good idea to pack water and a snack so you can eat if you need to without standing in endless food lines at the trade fair.

Finally, bring a camera with extra batteries and film/memory cards so you can document your experience. There are few better photo ops than Rolex for those who love horses!

Summary checklist:
– Backpack or hands-free bag
– Money
– Sunscreen
– Camera
– Hat
– Sunglasses
– Extra socks (if yours get wet)
– Rain jacket (small enough to roll up in bag)
– Sweatshirt
– Water bottle
– Snack
– Sneakers and rain boots (leave one in the car)

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