when I was about 5, I would tie toys to
my dog and pretend it was a horse. My
dad credited his survival of my teenage
years with the fact that I had the horse.
How many horses do you keep
I have five horses, including a rescued
Does the governor ever hit the
trail on horseback with you?
Oh, yeah. He did not grow up rid-
ing. But both of our sons started riding
before they could walk, and my husband
thought, “If you can’t beat them, you bet-
ter join them!” So we rode as a family for
years. One of our sons is an equine vet.
How often do you ride now that
you are busy in Frankfort, the
state’s capital city?
I don’t think horse people ever get out
as much as they’d like. But I make time.
My horses and my riding are the stability
in my life so, for me, being able to
do things I do as first lady depends on
having time to ride.
Do you have a favorite trail in
I have ridden at Cave Run, Pine
Mountain, Shaker Village, and
Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike
Trail. There are so many opportunities to
trail ride or hike or even ride your bike,
and each trail is unique. That is what is so
great about this adventure tourism effort
we are promoting in Kentucky. You can
go to a different trail every weekend and
you won’t see the same thing, [but] you
will see how beautiful Kentucky is.
Besides enabling people to be out-
doors and exercise, what benefits
do you believe rail-trails provide?
There is a small tack store close to a trail I
was riding, and that store did over $1,000
worth of business in one day. If people are
going to come to a trail with their horses
or bikes—or even if they hike—they
might want to pick up food or need to
the Legacy Trail. Whenever I go by, I see
people using the trail, biking or walking
with dogs, strollers, tricycles. You can see
that movement starting, and I think it
will continue.
What about funding these
The economic situation in Kentucky
presents a challenge, but we are finding
pockets of money that could be used.
Some of it is federal money from the
Transportation Enhancement Program
and allocations for trail systems.
You can find a way. There are so many
volunteer groups out there. There is grant
money, especially since the federal gov-
ernment has made outdoor activity and
healthy lifestyles a priority. You need to
be proactive. Make a plan, and people
will support it.
What positive changes regarding
rail-trails are you most excited
The Legacy Trail [in Lexington] is great.
Georgetown is now trying to put together
a trail to go all the way from Lexington to
Georgetown. There is so much happening
to connect trails. Maybe one of these days
we’ll be able to get on a bike or a horse
and go from one end of the state to the
other. It is my dream to have trails that
would cross the state from north to south
and east to west.
What is your vision for Kentucky’s
I want to bring visitors into the state.
We are the horse capital of the world,
for all breeds. For us to have a system of
trails related to that heritage is extremely
important. I have traveled all over the
country and the world, and no other
place equals the beauty of Kentucky.
Sometimes you have to step away to
realize it and appreciate it. Developing a
trail system would help.
Abby Laub is an editor, writer and photographer
based in Lexington, Ky. She is a wife, new mom
and fitness enthusiast.
repair equipment. So there are opportuni-
ties for small entrepreneurial businesses to
develop around our trail system.
What can still be done to boost
Kentucky’s standing in rail-trail
Developing the Dawkins Line will be a
big achievement. The state made a com-
mitment to purchase the line from the
R.J. Corman Railroad Group, and then
it was a collaborative effort by transporta-
tion, tourism and local governments that
helped fund the trail and make it a reality.
It is a 36-mile trail being built through
Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt coun-
ties. The trail has trestles, tunnels, mag-
nificent scenery. It’s a real opportunity to
draw tourists from all over the country.
Are there any other unused rail
lines you have your eye on?
There are some in western Kentucky
that we’d really like to see developed.
Muhlenberg County has one. Union
County does too. Ashland to Lexington
is also a] possibility.
What are the biggest hurdles the
state faces in trail development?
Private landowners are concerned about
opening their land to people to come and
trail ride. We are working on that. Their
concern is liability. We passed a House
bill about three years ago that made it
easier for people to be covered as far as
liability goes. The best way to address
concerns is to work locally. People are
more likely to agree to do something if
they’re working it out with somebody in
their own community, as opposed to
having the state government come in.
Do you see trails playing a role
in improving Kentucky’s overall
public health?
It’s probably too early to tell, but we are
making the effort. We always talk about
the need for people to be outside, but
we need to create the opportunities for
people and encourage them to be out
and about. All you have to do is look at