Tim Cope Review of The Horse Travel Handbook
In an era of jet travel, smart-phones and satellite technology, it is often claimed that the world is becoming smaller, more homogenous, less diverse, and generally travelled out. And yet step into the saddle, point your horse to the horizon, leave roads, fences, and Monday-to-Friday life behind, and it becomes obvious that the world is still as large, enchanting, and forever surprising as perhaps it has ever been.
The symbiosis that evolves between long rider and horse grants access to a world where the rise and fall of the sun, the availability of grass and water, the shifting moods of the horses and the weather, and the kindness of strangers still dictate. Long Riding is not just travel, and horses are not a mode of transport, it is a way of living, a relationship with the earth, with people and the greater web of life that inevitably rewires horse and man.
The modern age is also often assumed to be an era of unprecedented knowledge and information and yet for anyone wanting to break free and experience long riding, it is a perilous road, along which there are exceedingly few people who can offer help and advice. This is where CuChullaine O'Reilly's tireless work in creating the Horse Travel Handbook is an invaluable gift to all those wanting to pursue the magic of equestrian travel.
Condensing centuries of lessons, practical advice, moral support, and broad guidance the Horse Travel Handbook is as much a horse's friend, as it is the rider's.
The reality is that long riders will come up against bureaucracy of unprecedented difficulty, and in all manner of climates and conditions they will come to understand the reality of keeping horses healthy and safe - day in, day out. They will also have to embrace the fact that long riding is a finely balanced art that requires tuning of all the senses - if one link breaks down, the whole journey can end catastrophically in an instant.
There are many stages to the long ride, from the preparation, the will to commit, and the challenges of getting through both through the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey that will carry on long after the horse has been retired. Every step of the way, whether it be helpful paperwork templates for buying or selling a horse, tying up horses in forests or the open, choosing your mount, or just seeing the humour in the midst of trouble, the Horse Travel Handbook is at once the kind of comfort, support, advice and reassurance of a wise travel companion.
I congratulate CuChullaine, and only wish that the Horse Travel Handbook had been available to me during my own past endeavours. I hope that it helps and inspires future equestrian journeys.
Australian Long Rider Tim Cope is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society who rode from Mongolia to Hungary and is the author of ‘On the Trail of Genghis Khan.’