What to Expect: First Time at Kentucky 3 Day Event

This will be my first time attending the Kentucky 3 Day (I still can’t get over the ‘Land Rover’ title and keep referring to it as ‘Rolex’). I am aware that the weather can be very wacky and will pack accordingly. Any advice regarding rainwear, specifically during dressage and show jumping (ex. poncho vs. slicker) is very much appreciated! I have looked through all the blogs I can find describing the general goings on at the event, but am hoping to learn some specifics regarding the sales at the tents, what types of listening devices are rented for the dressage and show jumping, and any other tidbits you care to share! I am also happy to share in excitement and (friendly) speculation about the possible/probably competitors and their mounts. Thank you in advance!

As far as rainwear, I think the longer the better. I was there in 2015, when it rained on XC, and my raincoat did a great job of dripping water right onto my pants, so I was pretty soaked pretty quickly from the waist down. If you have covered seating in the rolex arena (or whatever it’s called now), you shouldn’t need much rain protection. I was there with a Pony Club Prince Phillip Cup games team, so was not in full spectator mode since we had other things to do.

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A poncho might keep you a bit drier, since they’re longer. Pretty sure I just brought my regular raincoat last year, wore waterproof boots, and made sure I didn’t bring anything with me that I would be REALLY upset if it got wet. It’s possible you might not even need rain gear! Just keep an eye on the forecast and plan accordingly. If it does look like it’s going to rain make sure you have enough clothes to not have to wear the same pair of pants the next day! Nothing is worse than trying to wrestle on wet jeans. ugh.

I absolutely recommend getting the headsets for dressage! The commentary makes it a lot more interesting. They’re just a small handset with ear buds (meaning you can share it with a friend if you’re looking for a way to lower costs for the weekend).

TBH I didn’t think any of the sales were THAT amazing, but the shopping is fun.


I think the big thing about the shopping is that the stuff is actually there for you to see and touch and feel and compare. Even if you have good tack shops near you in your regular life, they usually have a limited selection of brands and merchandise, and the KY3DE has everything. I mean Everything. Which makes it kind of overwhelming as well, but if you are shopping for a fairly major purchase - like tall boots or country boots or a high end bridle, it’s a great opportunity to actually see and touch the goods rather than guessing at sizes and quality.


Rain pants are very handy for lots of reasons.


Make sure you bring at least one pair of boots or taller footwear because it can get really muddy after a heavy rain! Every year I see people with mud-covered feet in low-cut shoes and think how miserable that has to feel! As far as the shopping, I feel like the last few years, there is the occasional bargain/deal to be had, but that overall it has been more about the selection and being able to find anything and everything you might need/want (I have a very loose definition of “need” lol). The first entry list should post in the next week or two, should be interesting to see.

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I always tried to bring outerwear that could be comfortable and dry for days of consecutive use. So the boots and raingear you bring may need to hold up to a lot of abuse, and be dry and ready to do it all over again the next day. There’s a reason you’ll see an absurdly high proportion of people there wearing Dubarrys or other country boots.

I went one year with an ok rain jacket, and when XC day was going to be miserable, I went to K-Mart and picked up the ugliest rainsuit ever made in the history of mankind. The top was big enough to fit over both a winter coat and my backpack, and the pants (which hilariously ended mid calf and were wide as a house) kept my legs dry. I was warm and dry, and able to stay out on course for the entire day without issue.


If you’re going to be there Thurs/Fri, go scope out the cross country course and figure out exactly which jumps you want to be sure to see on Saturday. You just might see your favorite rider/horse out that direction walking or grazing and you might get to pet them (the horse, or maybe the rider if you ask nicely:) )

Go on a course walk! …but probably not the Jim W or Boyd one. Way too many people (like hundreds) listening to them talk about 2-3 of the combinations over a megaphone. Instead, look for the smaller ones. Way more interesting. We sort of accidently fell into one with Jen McFall last year (trying to find Boyd) and she was WONDERFUL! Very insightful and took a small group of 15 or so people through her thought process on 2/3 of the whole course.

It’s possible that my favorite part to watch on XC day was watching them come across the finish line and the process of taking care of the horses after such an effort. I thought that was very cool to see.

When they set the Stadium course on Saturday evening, they allow the public to go walk it. We got some cool pictures down with the jumps in the arena.

Go to Keeneland - its worth it and you won’t miss anything RK3DE related if you go early/late.


Make sure you don’t leave your rain gear in your car on XC day! Ask me how I know hahaha!

We went to Keeneland on Thursday since we didn’t have Rolex tix that day. So fun. That place was crazy though, so many people! There was a shuttle to take you from the lot to the entrance which was nice.

If you’re not bringing your own lunch to Rolex, eat before the lunch break from dressage. The lines take SO long but if you go 10 minutes before, there won’t be much of a line at all.

If you can get up on time, it was really neat to go Sunday morning for the jogs. Sunday being the most “dramatic” when horses are spun.

If you are capable, walk the course on Friday. We didn’t go on any specific course walk but it was cool to be able to see the jumps up close before XC day. The Boyd course walk was ridiculous…probably 100 people. I wouldn’t bother there.

Take pics and have a great time!

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We never get up in time to go to the Sunday morning jog, but you can also watch it on the livestream, definitely some drama last year!! And chiming in to second/third/fourth the suggestion to walk the XC course but NOT attend one of the huge sponsor organized walks. One year we walked on our own and ended up on the same pace as a rider and her small group, and it was great, so don’t be afraid to walk it on your own. But also listen for announcements and look for signs up in the vendor area - lots of last-minute walks announced that would be worthwhile. We crossed paths with a walk Kyle Carter did last year and his explanations of the options for how to ride the questions presented were great and it was a small enough group that everyone could hear him and ask questions.

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Lucky you!!! Go to Keeneland early one morning to watch the gallops and walk around the barns. I enjoyed that so much more than the actual races. Way way way cooler!

Tour a few farms; not a van tour though; did that the first year and it was fun but not really that great. Better on your ope! Look up and contact farms directly to get hooked up with tours. We ended up at some fancy broodmare farm one year and were let loose to explore on our own. That was freaking memorable! Can’t remember the name; was near Paris. Also, there’s a cafe in downtown Paris that has the best damn homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and sweet tea.

We also did a few wine tastings around Lexington and that was fun! We’d go up Wednesday, spend Thursday doing farm tours and a winery. Spend early Friday am at Keeneland, head over to watch dressage, do the shopping, Saturday, cross country and another winery or three, Sunday, show jumping and last minute shopping if needed.

There are some excellent restaurants downtown Lexington!

Just watch the weather and wear comfortable shoes! Oh and pack your own snacks for cross country day. Nothings worse than forcing yourself to take a break to trek all the way back to the food right in the middle of it.

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Thank you ALL for the feedback! And here I was worried no one would answer (silly me…)!

I am planning on bring my hiking boots that are waterproof, Ariat H20 terrain boots, paddock boots, another pair of older Ariat H20 boots (pull on, more Fatboy style but not quite) and wellies. I’m hoping to get away with wearing the first three all five days (we want to make it to the jog Wed) because they are by far the most comfortable. I also bought one of those waterproof blankets for a XC day picnic or to throw over our laps since we have no cover in exchange for killer seats for dressage and SJ. Has anyone ever gotten the preferred parking? I wonder if that might be worth the closer proximity to the event to be able to change if necessary…

I swore to my husband that I am not looking for any big buys, but I am a sucker for a t-shirt or sweatshirt with the name/date of every event I go to on my bucket list. And like most people, I always enjoy a good freebie, so hopefully going early will pay off in that respect!

On a somewhat related note, this past year I finally said screw it and started traveling to all the events I wanted to see instead of just looking on event entries and catching YouTube clips the day/week after. So far, I’ve racked up: Great Meadow International, VA Horse Trials, and the Central Park Horse Show Arena Eventing competition. Best decision I ever made! With Rolex and WEG on deck, I am also planning on hitting Fair Hill, Jersey Fresh, Middleburg and any others once the events move back north. I would strongly encourage anyone else who is on the fence to just go for it. Although I am fortunate to be in close proximity to many of the Area II events, there is nothing like being in attendance and cheering your favorite eventing duos on!

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I haven’t been since 2014, so this might have changed, but there is a Rolex only merchandise tent, (now Landrover) in a separate place from the other merchants that sells all the good sweatshirts/Tshirts. If you want you choice of sizes, hit that tent first.

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You can also order https://shop.kentuckythreedayevent.com/ There is a markdown the last day but most sizes are gone.

Try not to overbook yourself, you will need time to wander around and fall into things, talk to and meet people. It’s like a pilgrimage. It’s the annual Village Idiots Convention 35,000 crazy people.

I now see friends from around the country once a yr there. I went for yrs (since 1978!) and I never took the time to go to the Hall of Champions - so glad I finally did before Cigar passed. And of course the Keeneland work-outs and breakfast at the track kitchen. Or a few parties in the campground…


Our group gets the preferred parking and we like it - my car is not cut out for the grass in the campground parking, particularly if it rains! It is handy to be able to take things back to the car if you do some shopping. I would never hike out to the campground to throw stuff in the car but we do it regularly in the preferred parking lot. The closer sections fill up fast on the weekend so it isn’t always as close as you think but it is still nice to be in a paved lot and closer to the vendors!

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Preferred parking is good if you shop a lot, otherwise you don’t really need it. We were parked at the furthest point last year and they shuttled people, or its not a bad walk at all.

Make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen if you are not covered. Some days, especially Sunday, it can be insanely hot and sunny in the stands!

This is the first year in many I am not going, I am hoping to get to WEG. Enjoy!!

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Every time that I have gone, it has rained cross-country day. I’ll be going this year, so prepare for it to rain!!! :D:lol::lol: A poncho is great so are rain boots. Keep those feet dry!!

Ditto going on a course walk. I did the smart pak walk with Boyd and Allison and was super disappointed. The first time I went, I did one with Peter Atkins and it was pretty awesome.

I love the headsets for dressage! Very informative. Don’t forget to turn it in at the end of the competition!

Ditto the sunscreen and hat… basically prepare for all types of weather.

Visit a morning session at Keeneland… https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1224237867587593.1073741914.100000041733967&type=1&l=954ce87c6c My mom and i went around 6:00 or so. Also go visit Old Friends and if you have time, book a farm tour at one (or several) of the major breeding barns.

This year is the 40th anniversary, so there will be some special gear. If you find something you like in the event merchandise store, buy it. Do not wait for the last day because it will not be there.

Also be sure to watch the warm-up for a few rides for dressage. Very neat - saw Michael Jung warm up a bit and it was awesome to watch him that close!

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Breakfast at the Keeneland track kitchen for sure!!!

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Make sure you get some time to stop by the Makers Mark Secretariat Center in the horse park! They usually run a shuttle from their booth up to the barn by the Altech Arena. Even if your not looking to take home a horse their program and staff are great for the thoroughbred lover! Last year on the morning of stadium jumping they did mimosas and omelets along with some demonstration rides. Great people great organization!

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