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JOURNALISM: Book Review [Download .doc version]

Book Review By Jeffrey Reed

The Journey Of The Western Horse, by Les Sellnow


Perhaps we take for granted the relationship between the Western Horse, and the development of civilization in the New World. This may sound like an overblown assessment of the equine world’s place in Western culture. However, after reading The Journey Of The Western Horse: From The Spanish Conquest To The Silver Screen, you will no doubt emerge with a strong sense of the Western Horse’s place in history.

Author Les Sellnow knows horses: he has been involved with the training and performance of various breeds, and he has spent many years monitoring the behaviour of horses in the wild. With this new book, Sellnow tells the story of how horses have played an integral part in the development of America, Canada, and beyond. In fact, Sellnow states, the Western world wouldn’t have developed as it did without the Western Horse – a horse which he says "does it all. It can be found in the cutting pen, on the recreational trail, in halter classes, western pleasure, English pleasure, driving, roping, ranching, equitation, babysitting children, jumping, dressage, the list goes on. It has something for everyone."

A well-organized publication containing some fascinating historical photographs, The Journey Of The Western Horse traces the development of this wonderful animal, from Spanish breeds brought to the New World by the conquistadors, to the wild horses of the Plains, to the melting pot breeds on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. All came together to form the modern Western breeds of the Appaloosa, the Paint and the Quarter Horse.

I particularly enjoyed Sellnow’s chapter about the Quarter Horse, which he defines as "a muscular but extremely agile, durable horse with strong bones and a calm temperament." In fact, he has done a wonderful job tracing pedigrees of all Western Horses in this book, and in explaining the sometimes difficult process of tracking pedigrees. Sellnow’s conclusion, that horses were quickly bred and developed to meet the needs of different times in history, is one of the gems of this book. Indeed, the Western Horse was involved in fulfilling the equine needs of the time.

Western culture, including the vaquero, the American cowboy, the cattle drive, the rodeo and million-dollar shows all include the Western Horse – a versatile horse which has played a myriad of roles, from television and movie star to ranch hand and rodeo competitor.

The Journey Of The Western Horse is by far the most entertaining equine-related book I have read in the past year. Author Les Sellnow proves he is a knowledgeable horseman with a strong sense of how the equine world has helped shape the rest of our world. You’ll love this book, and you will become much more aware of the cultural importance of horses after digesting its entertaining, informative content.

For information on purchasing this book, contact Eclipse Press (859) 278-2361 or visit

(Eclipse Press, $24.95 U.S. hardcover)


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