The Alltech World Equestrian Games opened this weekend in Lexington, Ky., being held on American soil for the first time since the games began 20 years ago. In fact, it is the first time the games, held every four years, halfway between the real Olympics, have been held outside of Europe.
You can imagine the fanfare that marked the opening, with dignitaries from 60 countries, more than 2,000 journalists and a worldwide television audience of more than 460 million.
And who did those 460 million viewers see in the "Celebrating the Equine Spirit" parade Sunday?
The Bedford County Mounted Patrol, that's who.
"The (Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder's and Exhibitors) Association got that for us," said Ernie Brewbaker, of the mounted patrol. "They're up there doing different things, promoting the horses."
The games take place over 16 days in Lexington, from Sept. 25 through Oct. 10. Like the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games are held every four years and serve as the world championships for eight equestrian sports: Dressage, Endurance, Eventing, Reining, Jumping, Vaulting, Driving, and Para-Equestrian.
But it's not all about those star athletes -- it's all about horses. During the 16 days, other breeds have the opportunities to put on exhibitions and show their stuff. From Tennessee walkers to Dutch warmbloods, almost every breed imaginable will be on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park for everyone to see.
But they didn't all get to be in the parade.
"We had a lot of fun," said Brewbaker. "We drove up in the morning, got here mid-afternoon, got tacked up, got prepped, did a little practicing, then rode in the parade."
And then came right back home,
"We didn't get to see any of the games," Brewbaker laughed. "It was a long drive, but it was a lot of fun. The governor of Kentucky (Steve Beshear) was in the parade in a white carriage, and the local mayor was too. We got to ride right downtown where they had a lot of venues set up, and then back out."
The Bedford County Mounted Patrol was joined by the Rutherford County Mounted Patrol, as well as the Metro one -- all riding Tennessee walking horses.
Sgt. J.D. Harber, of the Nashville Metro Mounted Patrol, and his officers, Nicki Swisher, Mark Stockdale, and David Mizrany lead the contingent, followed by the Rutherford County unit represented by Jon Levi, Troy Hooker, Jessica Stitt, and Kerry Nelson.
"Bedford County's newly formed unit made a great showing, with Ernie Brewbaker, Bo DiPlacido, Steve Mills, and Leo Skelton," said Chris Coffey with TWHBEA. "It was very evident that the state of Tennessee's law enforcement mounted patrols were at the top of the field and have chosen the Tennessee walking horse as their choice of mount.
"TWHBEA would like to thank each department and their respective leaders for recognizing the importance of this event and would also like to thank each of these individuals for their service and commitment to excellence."
The Bedford representatives were well turned out, too, for the fancy event, with the matching and monogrammed new saddle pads and bags recently donated by Equi-Tech.