Feel the Beat

It’s a thrilling moment for spectator and exhibitor alike on a steamy August night in Freedom Hall, Louisville, Ky. The place is filled wall-to-wall with spectators. Some are in elevated private suites surrounding the arena floor. Many are

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It’s a thrilling moment for spectator and exhibitor alike on a steamy August night in Freedom Hall, Louisville, Ky. The place is filled wall-to-wall with spectators. Some are in elevated private suites surrounding the arena floor. Many are dressed in resplendent finery augmented by expensive jewels. The reserved sections are filled with equine aficionados. This is not a time for the uninformed. This is a night for appreciating talent and sheer athletic excellence in the equine world. It is the final night of the 10-day World Championships, featuring the American Saddlebred horse.


The organist strikes up “My Old Kentucky Home.” As one, the crowd rises to its feet. All eyes are on the ramp leading down into the arena.


And here they come, one by one, as the announcer intones the horse’s name and that of its rider. It is the Five-Gaited World Championship. There is fire, emotion, and supreme athletic power. Eyes are opened wide, ears are pricked forward, nostrils are flared and powerful legs drive them forward.


Around the arena they sail, their heads carried high on slender necks, tails plumed. Then the announcer calls: “Rack On!” They shift into another gear. It’s a thing of beauty and the crowd roars its approval

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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