This Handbook is the Holy Grail for Long Riders.
I have recently come into possession of CuChullaine O'Reillys the Horse Travel Handbookí after he presented me with a copy while I make my way along the Bicentennial National Trail in Australia. I have been riding along the trail with my amazing horse Archie for over a year now, but this essential guidebook could not have come at a better time. CuChullaine has somehow, through years of research, communication with equine travellers, and his own personal experience as a Long Rider, managed to consolidate into one book the vast amount of knowledge and experience required to begin preparations for any person interested in the rare, challenging lifestyle that is that of the Long Rider.
It is an amazing book, and it covers EVERYTHING. The Handbook contains advice on actual tried and true methods, well-tested gear and practices that can guide even the most novice of Long Riders, just like me. When I began my journey a couple of years ago into not only the world of Long Riding, but horse-handling in general, CuChullaine and the Long Ridersí Guild was a vital source of support and information. But if only this Handbook was available prior to my journey, things would have been enormously different. I imagine I would have saved a great deal of time, money and mistakes.
The Handbook covers such a wide range of subjects for the budding Long Rider: Notes on gear, how to train horses in preparation, threats and challenges one may face, all subjects which are necessary topics to cover. However, the Handbook does not merely advise on simply a practical level. I personally found his advice on the emotional preparation, and also the adjustment that comes after one's journey is completed, important but often overlooked pillars of a Long Riderís travels.
Horse riders, Long Riders, enthusiasts and dreamers will all find something different to take out of the Horse Travel Handbook. I personally found certain chapters regarding horse behaviour, travelling in a variety of weather, problems with support vehicles, facing locked gates, and the threat of wild animals such as crocodiles all topics I could relate to and advice I will utilise in the next leg of my 5,300 kilometre journey across Australia.
CuChullaine O'Reilly should be proud of his contribution to not only the equine world, and the world of Long Riding, but of his contribution to history, literature, and the preservation of the age old practice of slow travel on horseback in this modern day of technology and such fast paced movement.
This Handbook may herald the beginning of a new wave of Long Riders in the 21st century. For the better, I say.
Australian Long Rider Kimberley Delavere is riding solo along the Bicentennial National Trail.