Must read guidance for all Long Riders worldwide.
The Horse Travel Handbook might sound like a relatively slight introduction to a modern activity undertaken in a few physically benign areas of the world with settled equestrian cultures. That assumption is utterly wrong!
In 285 closely written pages CuChullaine O'Reilly has packed profound personal experience augmented by decades of contact with contemporary long riders on all continents, except Antarctica, and deep study of hundreds of years of equestrian travel, much of it rediscovered by the author.
The Handbook has a North American perspective reflecting the numbers of long riders and long rides on that continent, but it is quite extraordinary in the global range and depth of its practical content and advice, and in its sense of ethic, its vision and its passion. It is written for all modern Long Riders worldwide, those planning their first journey and those already highly experienced.
The Handbook is a 'must read' whether the rider is planning a few hundred miles in their own country or 10,000 miles across many countries.
Some topics seem obvious, for example: Selection of the horse, selection of any companions, route planning and training, but the content is remarkable. It includes issues and information beyond that which even experienced Long Riders are likely already to have. Some topics may seem irrelevant to a British rider in Great Britain, for example choosing a reliable guide clearly poses many problems in great tracts of the world but you should take it seriously anywhere as I found, in England, when the husband of a cousin led Strider and me along a path in a village he knew well. He had never noticed that the gate he regularly negotiated on foot was impassable to a horse.
Quicksand may sound an exotic problem to most riders in Britain but bogs are real and the behaviour and techniques for avoiding disaster and extricating rider, baggage and horse with minimum risk of injury, are vital. Traffic, bridges and tunnels, documentation, saddles, pack saddle, health, route planning, daily distance: all these need thought. The Handbook covers these and many other topics with information and advice that will benefit the Long Rider at home and worldwide.
I have worked in Kenya, south Sudan, India and Indonesia and have visited and travelled in many other countries. The Handbook's chapters on paperwork, documentation, traffic, accommodation and new cultures contain much that rings true, and matters.
In 2013 Strider and I travelled round England, my home country, a seven month journey through the centres of towns and cities to their cathedrals and abbeys. Over the previous five years I had spent many hours on the Long Riders Guild website and elsewhere to prepare. Had I been able to read the advice in the Handbook, and then disciplined myself to follow it, I would have planned for a lower daily distance, trained for a faster pace at the walk, been more ruthless over what I carried and, most important, placed awareness of Strider more strongly above my wishes and plans, and the wishes and plans of anyone helping, walking or riding with me.
I could have reduced the miles I walked and led from 1,500 to the planned 700. A friend who has done a solo long ride has thought hard about their next journey. They read the Handbook and told me it was worth reading just for the chapter on the selection of a support person, a crucial element in their new plan.
Whether you are dreaming about a long ride, or hard at work planning and preparing for one, whether you are going somewhere familiar or somewhere unknown, reading the Handbook will improve what happens, for you and your horse.
Go well, both of you
William Reddaway, and Strider
William Reddaway and his horse Strider completed the first modern equestrian journey to thirty of Great Britainís historic cathedrals and abbeys.