A New Classic.
It’s an age-old fantasy: Riding off into the sunset, bedroll behind the saddle, not a care in the world. In the fantasy, the horse (never a mule) is always calm, the weather always clear, and the rider clean and well-rested.
Then there’s the reality.
From the giddiness of the initial dream to the rigors of the ride to the hard decisions at a ride’s end, this incredibly comprehensive handbook covers it all.
Planning a route. Training with panniers. Riding across international borders. Life in a tent. Preventing saddle sores. Dealing with children throwing rocks. Freeing a horse from quicksand. Aggressive traffic. Entertaining one’s hosts. Bonding. Contemplating the meaning of life at three miles an hour. And more.
CuChullaine O’Reilly, founder of the international Long Riders’ Guild, has distilled hundreds of long riders’ accounts and tips into a manual dense with information on every conceivable aspect of planning, preparing for, and surviving a long-distance ride. The book is designed to be packed and consulted, complete with an appendix of knots and an “Equestionary” with illustrations of such things as hay and horseshoes to point to when one doesn’t speak the language. In addition, O’Reilly weaves little-known historical titbits into the narrative, making it fascinating reading for any rider: seasoned, novice or armchair traveller.
But long riding is about more than practicality. Ideally, it is a journey to places within. O’Reilly speaks eloquently of the spiritual changes many long riders undergo, the necessity of leaving competitiveness and timetables behind, and the perils of chasing fame and fortune. Again and again, the Handbook emphasizes the ethics of equine travel: conducting oneself honourably and always, always putting the welfare of one’s equine companion(s) first.
This book, the first of its kind, is a valuable resource for any long rider or anyone interested in long riding. It is destined to become a classic.
American Long Rider Katie Cooper rode from Mississippi to Arizona on her mule, Sir Walter.