The Long Riders' Guild

Reviews of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration

General Reviews

England’s most prestigious magazine, Country Life, reviews the Encyclopaedia, describing it as “The greatest horse rides ever, as chronicled in a unique treasury of horse and human wisdom.”

 

The Encyclopaedia has also been  reviewed in the international equestrian news service, Horse Talk, which has generated many positive comments.

 

“The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration constitutes that rare find: a work that is at once historical and literary. Author CuChullaine O’Reilly possesses the singular gift of being able clearly to convey a vast store of knowledge and, often, genuine wisdom. That gift comes only from one immersed, heart and soul, in a living tradition, in this case the tradition of the horseman and particularly the Long Rider.”
Professor
David Dorondo teaches the first university course on “The Horse in European History” and is the author of Riders of the Apocalypse: German Cavalry and Modern Warfare.

 

“Today, in the West the horse/man relationship has been reduced to contrived spectacles for the pursuit of coloured ribbons. CuChullaine O’Reilly’s book is providing all equestrians an enlightened view of horsemanship rooted in history.”

Known as the “compassionate inventor,” Robert Ferrand created the MAMP adjustable pack saddle, developed the world’s first computer saddle pressure mapping system and invented the Saddletech Gauge that measures the shape of the horse’s back.

 

“CuChullaine O’Reilly is the lore-master of the Long Riders’ tribe. After decades of amazing research, his wonderfully written Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration represents a literary landmark in the study of horse travel.”

Russian Long Rider Vladimir Fissenko rode 18,000 miles from the bottom of Patagonia to the top of Alaska.

 

“What an achievement and what a depth of profound knowledge are on display in the epic Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration. I believe CuChullaine O’Reilly’s mammoth undertaking in producing such a vast and comprehensive work will be treasured not only by future Long Riders but be seen as a unique treasury of horse and human wisdom. The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration is a beacon of sanity lighting the way.”

Explorer John Hare is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers’ Club who was awarded the Lawrence of Arabia Gold Memorial Medal for exploration under extreme hazard and is the author of Shadows Across the Sahara.

 

“The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration is not about one nation. It represents the collective wisdom of humanity’s travel on horseback. This is a book of marvels that includes precious stories, valuable ideas, forgotten history and endangered practical knowledge. Such a book could never have been written by an idle spectator of passing events. Equestrian travel is CuChullaine O’Reilly’s ruling passion and no reader will doubt that the Encyclopaedia represents a labour of love. “

Lithuanian Long Rider Gintaras Kaltenis rode from the Baltic to the Black Sea and is the author of Zygis Zemaitukais iki Juodosios Juros.

 

“No one has written about equestrian travel as CuChullaine O’Reilly has. The author misses nothing. His breadth of knowledge is astonishing. The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration is a compilation of collective experience across the ages, across cultures, and across the globe. It contains information that will be easily lost if not recorded. This book is not only vital to equestrian travelers, it is essential to our human history.”

American Long Rider Lucy Leaf made an 8,000 mile journey through the United States.

 

“The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration by CuChullaine O’Reilly is a timeless equestrian classic. This work is fresh, extremely well written and feels as if you are reading a best seller. Once I commenced reading it was hard to put it down as every page was packed with juicy real-life stories and important historical facts. Only a renowned Long Rider and celebrated author such as CuChullaine could have put together this Bible of Equestrian Travel.”

Brazilian Long Rider Filipe Leite rode from Canada to Patagonia and is the author of The Long Ride Home.

 

This is the Bible for Long Riders: On rare occasions life gives us the pleasant surprise to encounter one of those special books that we will keep on our bedside table for many years. That is the feeling someone who loves riding horses - and riding horses for very long distances in particular - gets when he gets his hands on Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration. This Encyclopaedia is a Bible for any Long Rider because of the spirit found within these pages. These books will guide you, inspire you, and show you right from wrong. They also serve as a protocol because these three volumes will teach you the details about equestrian travel. These books will answer all your questions, even those that you don't yet ask yourself. The Encyclopaedia is the most complete and best prepared information ever written about our long and still enduring passion to travel on a horse.

Argentine Long Rider Benjamin Reynal rode in South America and is the author of ‘Cuando La Distancia Revela.’

 

“The Long Rider ‘tribe’ is scattered across the continents. Thus a mass of collective knowledge and tradition lay dispersed in the legends and customs of so many cultures. It gathered dust in the journals of the old time explorers. And it was held by the memories of hundreds of Long Riders who never had the chance to share this treasure with the wider world, until now. The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, authored by the foremost expert, scholar and gentleman of horse back travel and exploration, CuChullaine O’Reilly, has brought this vast collection of wisdom together for the first time. The Encyclopaedia, however, never reads like a dictionary of dry facts. It is a highly readable volume filled with entertaining and inspiring stories, quotes and anecdotes.”

New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson rode through Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia alone and is the author of You Must Die Once.

Reviews of Volume I

Amazing and Captivating.

CuChullaine O’Reilly brings you to the front line of Equestrian Exploration.

As I thumbed through Volume I of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, I was captured.  Now after reading it, I am thoroughly convinced that this book will change the equestrian world of travel.

There is no other book like this. It contains the vast knowledge and experience of many Long Riders. This is a must for anyone traveling by horse, whether a short journey or one of epic portions internationally.

It opens the door for riders that wish to seek beyond, those that have thought of becoming a Long Rider, those that may have been discouraged by the naysayers and those that have a dream.

It offers a greater understanding of the spiritual aspect of the journey and the fact that it is the journey itself and never the destination.  It shows how we can experience the chrysalis that is available to all who dare to come out of the cocoon and fly. 

Only those who have experienced these journeys can help those who wish to take their own Long Rides.  It captures the practical, the technical and the spiritual as to why.

I am astonished at the vast amount of information and detail collected. The order of the Chapters is perfect. The information is realistic as to what can or will happen, yet never discouraging, inspiring instead. Not only does it give detailed information regarding every aspect of global equestrian travel, it also offers the history of equine exploration over the centuries.

Shortie Graham is preparing to make an equestrian journey in Canada.

Awesome and Spellbinding.

Wow! Once again CuChullaine O'Reilly has penned an equine master piece, the first being The Horse Travel Handbook. In the extensive Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration he has skilfully presented equestrian exploration from the first Stone Age man or woman who mounted the horse and traveled to the far horizon to today's horse humans traveling with iPhones, GPS and Google earth!

Masterfully blending 6,000 years of the experience and knowledge of hundreds of Long Riders, in Volume I CuChullaine carries the reader through the process of planning and executing a successful equine journey. He documents each phase of the journey from planning to riding toward the horizon. He provides both pros and cons of all aspects, from choosing the route, the horse, saddle, feed and care of both your horse and yourself, rider clothing, the packhorse and the proper method of packing. Numerous photos depict historic riders and the equipment utilized in all parts of the world.

CuChullaine O'Reilly has gathered centuries of lost knowledge about the magical equine. This gift of thousands of years of horse-human interaction will benefit Equestrian Explorers now and all those yet to come.

This book is a must-read!

Jim Hasty is preparing to make an equestrian journey in the United States.

A Profound Contribution to Horses and Humanity

The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, Volume I, is just the first of the three volumes subtitled A Study of the Geographic and Spiritual Equestrian Journey, based upon the Philosophy of Harmonious Horsemanship.  At 600 pages, small print, its size and scope matches the breadth of its title. 

As might be expected, this is not for the casual reader. It is massive in size because there is simply nothing like it out there, anytime, anywhere. O’Reilly coined the term “Long Rider” for those who actually travel on horseback and we quickly learn that while this mode of travel is unique in today’s world, it is not dead. For six thousand years, horses and humans have evolved together. Our DNA calls us to sit on a horse, and a horse’s DNA allows us to remain there. It is the nature of horses to move, so we become riders. They take us to unknown places, and together we become explorers.

O’Reilly tells us that there is still a place for horse travel, and it can take us much further than our geographic destination. When you embark on an equestrian journey, he tells us, you are really making two journeys, an inner journey and an outer journey.

In 1973, I departed from the Eastern U.S. on horseback, but it took me a couple thousand miles before I realized there was a great deal more to my journey than reaching a destination far from home. It was my horse, Igor, who showed me the constitution of a “good horse” despite my perception of his flaws. I never anticipated that we would keep going another 5,000 miles, only because we were right for each other, his flaws a reflection of my own, the mettle that likely kept us on the trail.

This volume revealed far more than I learned in four years of travel, working with horses and many horsemen all across the country and back again, for that is how I financed my continuing trips. But I wasn’t aware of many others who traveled on horseback “to not only see the country, but to feel it, to be part of it” as I told reporters long ago. Four decades later, this volume I held in my hands, describing what I could never put into words myself, felt nothing less than epic to me. I learned that I was part of a global brotherhood of equestrian travelers spanning through centuries. I also learned that we had a few things in common. 

Horses represent freedom. Long Riders yearn for freedom, the author explains. Horses have the capacity for horse-human relationship. Almost all Long Riders form intense bonds with their horses.

Who are these Long Riders? What sparks the desire to set off on a horse? How are we different from others? How do we choose our horses? How do they become different from other horses? Where will we travel? How will we go? What is our purpose? Will we travel alone or with others? These and many more are the questions addressed in Volume One. This is the volume that will get us on the trail if it is meant for us. By the end of the volume, we will know for sure.

Volume One is not a “how to” encyclopedia of everything you need to know about horse travel, though the reader will have gained an enormous body of equestrian wisdom that can be directly applied to setting off on a contemporary journey. Through master story-telling, the author spins his yarn, directly from the tales of other Long Riders, tales he has collected over the past 30 years from around the globe. Using his experience as an investigative journalist, he weaves the stories into each topic, as though sitting in the same room with the reader, by a warm fire, inviting inquiry, discussion, exploration. He is funny, interesting, informative, and thought-provoking, all in one. Reading the encyclopedia is embarking on a journey itself – a literary journey. 

The author reminds us throughout that the information conveyed is not merely his beliefs and practices, though he has plenty of his own experiences to share, but that of the entire Brotherhood of Long Riders coming from different geographies with different cultures. It is not his book, he says, it is “our” history. It is akin to a caravanserai, where the equestrian travelers ride in, share their vital information, then journey on.

O’Reilly takes us to centuries past, presenting the concept of an “Equestrian Equator” of grassland exquisitely suited to horse travel which also served as a highway of trade and conquest. From these types of land, equestrian cultures developed. Herodotus wrote of the Scythians, the mounted nomads: “Their country is the back of a horse”. This is the collective wisdom that embeds into cultures. Traveling in “horse-friendly cultures” might be easier, or not. O’Reilly offers a warning that there can be major and sometimes shocking differences in the practices and beliefs one encounters on a modern journey. There are many considerations, for example, in a culture that eats horse meat.

The author discusses successes and failures of the many Long Riders he has encountered through the Long Riders Guild, a clearing house of information for horse travelers. Failure in reaching a destination is not failure of the journey, he imparts. “Whether you ride a day or a year, your life will be changed”.

There are two chapters called “Long Rider Horsemanship”, the philosophy and the practice, which I found compelling. “Why isn’t riding across a continent granted the same respect as beating your neighbor in a competition?” He speaks of fashion versus function. Riders of tomorrow are looking for something else. “Riding out is riding in,” he explains.

Aimé Tschiffely was the most influential equestrian traveler of the 20th century, we learn. By the end of the volumes, we are in love with his legendary Criollo horses, Gato and Mancha. His classic books of their famous journey from Argentina to New York City became best sellers in the 1930’s and have inspired many Long Riders. Fifty years later, these books were out of print, until they were revived through the Long Riders’ Guild Press.

 What does a Long Rider hope to achieve on his journey? “Travel invokes an enormous sense of loyalty between horse and human”, O’Reilly reveals. “There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse”, another author relates. Reading these chapters took me back to some ancient, heart-felt soul connection that the mystics understood.  

O’Reilly offers the nearly-lost concept of equestrian travel as a reasonable and rewarding endeavor in today’s world, while also giving the horse its rightful place in our constantly-changing evolution.

Later chapters provide excellent overviews about saddles and the art of packing, taking us back to long-forgotten equestrian history. His description of “horse mayhem” that can result from something as simple as a plastic rain poncho evoked personal vivid memories that were both hilarious and sobering. “Never tie a pack horse to the saddle of the road horse,” he advises. A Long Rider might think it doesn’t apply to his docile pack horse, but he won’t forget the story about the horse that went off a cliff, or the “wreck” that ensued from an errant rope. “Forget riding lessons,” the author suggests. “Go to packing school.” He doesn’t say this lightly. Fifty percent of Long Rider inquiries he has fielded over the years are from people who have never ridden a horse before.

I found it amazing that the author was able to share many accounts of failed journeys, mishaps, disasters, blatant blunders, missteps, sheer ignorance, and even abuse, for this information is not always so readily offered. Saddle sores are one of the most common maladies; the graphic photos are mind-numbing. While minor saddle sores were commonplace in the seventies, today there is no excuse for a callus even, an indication of unwarranted pain.

Saddles, pack saddles and pads are so much improved today, the information provided in this volume will pay for itself ten-fold. It could well save the journey, for saddle sores will end a trip.  The same applies to hoof problems. Today’s horse shoes might last two weeks on the trail.  The simple addition of the hard metal, borium, which I had to discover en route, can gain another month of wear. Super glue will become part of your emergency kit. There are many advancements in equipment today, but buyer beware. Would you use an industrial floor mat advertised as a saddle pad? Cost – $140.

An even more serious trip-stopper is inadequate documentation. The author relates a number of journeys that ended prematurely due to bureaucratic interference, even when every detail was attended to in advance. This possibility is so serious today that a rider may want to avoid international border crossings altogether. Horses have been threatened with shooting and unexpected quarantines lasting for weeks. This is where reality meets the dream head on, the author warns.

Should horses go barefoot, the natural way? While this is a recent trend, the debate is centuries old. The answer, as for many situations encountered on the trail: it depends. Should a Long Rider have a support vehicle following? Maybe, but it changes the nature of the journey. Your greatest enemy could be the driver.

The encyclopedia will rock many commonly held beliefs about horse management and care. The discussion about “off-saddling” left me shaking my head. We are warned that grave harm can occur by yanking the saddle off a hot back too quickly. The cool air will “scald” the skin, leading to saddle sores. This comes from the Asian horse cultures which consistently leave the saddle on the horse for as much as an hour after a ride, as protection from harmful “airs”. We have to read further in Volume Three to get the full background. Is this fact or superstition?  I have to say that while I never came across this in Western practice, I would have to give it serious consideration.

The author gently implores us to keep an open mind. Ever hear of a girthless pack saddle?  They are used in Asia, quite successfully.

Since the author addresses horse care and practice on a global scale, there is a tendency throughout the chapters to assume there is a stable waiting for the Long Rider and his horse at the end of a day’s ride, with hay or chopped forage and fresh water readily available. I wondered about the reality of this scenario, as many riders set up camp for the night and rely on the availability of grazing supplemented by whatever local grains are available. Likewise, there was limited information about hobbling and use of long lines to allow maximum access to grazing. I would like to have seen further discussion on the tying of horses, since rope burns are an ever present danger which threatened my journey until I reached the Western states where packing knowledge is more prevalent.

The important chapter on feeding and watering, however, is excellent. It makes a complex topic simple and concise, applying to most geographic areas. Considering the monumental task of preparing a potential horse traveler for everything that might be encountered on a global scale, the author has done a commendable job. Some real dangers await the reader in Volume Two, accompanied by hair-raising stories that hopefully, future Long Riders can avoid if they are aware of them. Who would think insects might be the greatest peril. Every chapter throughout all the volumes is followed by phenomenal photos, both revealing and enhancing to the topic discussed. 

I consider Volume One a “must-read” for any rider considering a journey on horseback. It is not a volume to be skimmed. It will incite many questions. It will connect you to your equestrian ancestors. Important decisions will be made. Your horse will thank you every moment of a ride undertaken.

There is one thing I know that all Long Riders will agree on: a happy horse means a happy rider. O’Reilly has reached to the far ends of the earth to contribute to the welfare of both. This is a work that will find its way to the great libraries of the world, for this work is a contribution to the understanding of horses and humanity alike.

American Long Rider Lucy Leaf made an 8,000-mile journey through the United States.

Reviews of Volume II

No library should be without these informative and enlightening books.

The Oxford dictionary defines encyclopedia as “a book or set of books giving information on many subjects, or on many aspects of one subject.”  This three-volume set certainly goes beyond that definition for it covers many aspects of many subjects related to horse exploration and the history of horse exploration throughout the centuries.

CuChullaine O’Reilly has amassed a complete detailed history of all things related to “Equus” in three volumes. Though these volumes can stand alone I believe the reader will find they complement each other.  Volume I opens the door to adventure. Volume II takes you on an incredible journey on horseback by providing every detail a Long Rider would need to make a great equestrian journey in any part of the world.  Whether you are an avid Long Rider, a weekend trail rider, a lover of all things horses and the history of the horse, as well as a student of the great explorations made by those who sought something within and found if from the back of a horse, this is a must-read. Nothing has been overlooked. CuChullaine writes from his own experiences as a Long Rider and utilizes the experiences of many other Long Riders from the past to the present.

No library should be without these informative and enlightening books.

Shortie Graham is preparing to make an equestrian journey in Canada.

A Masterpiece

It is an understatement to say that Volume II of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration is exciting! The stories from the road and the incredible pictures left me in awe!

Volume II leads the reader deeper into equine exploration with jaw-dropping stories from the road and incredible pictures. It includes stories and pictures of Yakut horseman riding in minus 65 degree weather, while others ride across deserts where the temperature soars well above 100 degrees. Just as the reader thinks he's well prepared to set off, and has read about every type of possible danger, comes the unbelievable story of the Long Riders who faced the challenge of rescuing their horses from killer whales!

As CuChullaine leads us through the emotional roller-coaster known as Equine Exploration, he skilfully covers all the aspects  both joyous and dangerous, from the exhilaration of a great day in the saddle, to preparing the reader for the possible loss of your loved and trusted equine partner, or the vastly different cultural approaches to this loss.  

This volume includes a historic collection of pictures and stories that will bring a smile to your face and at times pull on the strings of your heart. You will find it very difficult to put this masterpiece down!   

As I begin my second read of Volume II, I can hardly wait for Volume III.

Jim Hasty is preparing to make an equestrian journey in the United States.

The Journey, The Challenges

The second volume of the Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration takes us to the pure adventure of travel on horseback. This is where horse and rider meet five-foot long electric eels, attack condors, the stalking lion or a pack of screaming hyenas. This is where you think you’ve heard it all, and the next page brings yet another hair-raising story.

I could not read this volume before going to bed, for all I could think of was Aimé Tschiffely’s horse, Gato, sliding off a cliff towards certain death, saved only by a lone, solitary tree. Or the horse that plunged through the slats on a swinging bridge, held fast by the panniers on his packsaddle.  Or the horse stuck in quicksand, too exhausted to keep his head up. These are the predicaments that have plagued horse travelers for centuries. What would a rider do in such a situation? This is what O’Reilly asked himself, and the Encyclopaedia is what came of it. 

O’Reilly is a master story-teller and he keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout this 760 page volume. This is the journey, the experience of riders across the globe, both now and through written history, compiled from decades of research and communication with modern day travelers. Horsemen who are also explorers have an innate desire to be on the move, just as their horses do. O’Reilly calls them Long Riders.

The author, a Long Rider himself, has devoted the last couple of decades to helping riders help their horses by being prepared. This book imparts valuable information, but it’s the stories that the Long Rider will carry with him on the trail. The author is not telling us what he thinks we should do. He conveys the stories of those who rode before us. He provides historic perspective. He gives us the research. He inspires us to think ahead, and think of our horses. If the stories don’t do it, the poignant photos at the end of each chapter will for sure. Can you imagine winching your horses across a deep ravine when the bridge is out? There is a photo showing how a Long Rider did it.

What a Long Rider on a journey will soon notice is the unique trust that develops between himself and his horse. The traveling horse develops a sense of calm unity with their rider, the author explains. For example, rather than panic, Gato remained perfectly still while his rider rescued him, though the horse was neighing in desperation and fear. Luckily Tschiffely had the gear he needed and another horse to pull Gato to safety. The bonds developed both ways are strong.  Another horse, Gandy, stood over his unconscious rider and then tried to climb into the ambulance when help arrived. When the author slipped from the saddle in delirium, his mare, Shavon, stood by her rider’s side. After he regained consciousness, she carried him to safety unguided.

In this volume, we are exposed to suffering and even death on the trail. It is heart wrenching. The author noted how many Long Riders resorted to prayer when in grave peril, though they were not particularly religious. Those were the Riders whose prayers were answered. Long Riders and their horses are the heroes in this volume, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the author managed to write this volume and retain his sanity.

The chapter called ‘Attacks and Arrests’ left me shaken. There are so many considerations to carrying a weapon. Horses can be stolen. Cultural differences can lead to unsavory surprises.  We get some insight into why border crossings are often such a nightmare. Consider who will take care of your horse if you are incapacitated by accident or sickness. It’s all in the stories. There’s a reason that it takes 50 pages to cover insects. Insects can stop a well-planned journey in its tracks. 

Long Riders may be prepared for bears, snakes, bulls, or protective dogs. I doubt they ever considered that horses can also be deadly. Wolves have their own chapter, and I will never forget the image of a horse and rider galloping full bore for the safety of the village, the rider slaying attacking wolves, one after another, with his sword. This was back in 1903, when wolves were so numerous it was unthinkable to ride alone through a northern forest. “My horse was sobbing by now,” the rider wrote. Wars have been stopped just to fight wolves, the enemies working together to combat them.

Reading the Encyclopaedia will rock your world. We think we know all about the Scott and Amundsen rivalry to reach the South Pole. O’Reilly, a connoisseur of adventure travel, relates the true story. It includes meat-eating horses and one of most amazing rescues I’ve ever read. During preparations, Scott’s team members had to travel on sea ice. One night, breaking ice floes separated the men from their horses, leaving the ponies stranded and drifting out to sea. It was common sense to let them go. But the men couldn’t bear it. Then, just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse…..

What I note in these amazing stories is that horses don’t give up. It seems they take on their human companion’s desire to live. 

Reading this volume is an experiential course in geography. You learn where the equestrian cultures are and how the use of horses has shaped civilization. Would you expect to find a horse culture in Siberia? Reading the Encyclopaedia, I know the Darien Gap jungle better than I want to, a place horses should never go. 

After reading Volume I, I had to wait to begin Volume Two. Reading again, I was once again amazed at the skill of the writing. I read a lot of non-fiction, and truly, I don’t know of a better writer. The flow is like following water to the sea. O’Reilly’s writing is “unbound”, “unfettered”, like our horses the way we imagine them. As a Long Rider myself, I felt as though I was coming home. Chapters about horse health, feeding, and keeping a back sore-free are just as good a read, for O’Reilly provides just what a rider needs to know, in a way it can be remembered on any trail.

After reading this volume would a prospective Long Rider dare to leave the safety of their own barn? The author need not worry, for what he portrays is the full human experience. Long Riders are the kind of people who want that experience. You don’t have to be a Long Rider to appreciate these volumes. Traveling on the back of a horse at three miles an hour, for weeks, months, or even years connects a rider with every aspect of humanity as well as the natural world. What is important to the Long Rider is the horse he shares the experience with. If you are human, it is simply a great read.

It would be normal to feel sorry for the unlucky horse that was chosen to endure such a journey. Reading this volume will give you some different thoughts. Tschiffely and Mancha and Gato were nearly inseparable at the end of their 10,000 mile journey. They are now immortalized in a statue of the three of them in their home country of Argentina. The last chapter, called “Death”, deals with the unspeakable, but also the inevitable.     

You cannot finish this volume without the third volume in hand, for this is where the author writes of the day-to-day experience of the horse traveler. Volume Three is the wind-down from high adventure. I highly recommend all these volumes to past, present, and future Long Riders as well as anyone who has the desire to move beyond the world they know.

American Long Rider Lucy Leaf made an 8,000-mile journey through the United States.

Reviews of Volume III

A Fitting Climax

Volume III of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration is a fitting climax and summation to Volumes I and II of the same title. These volumes will change the world of horse exploration. The information they contain is from first hand experienced Long Riders.

I cannot say enough regarding Chapters 78-80, as they completely express the complex facets the Long Riders experience after their journey(s). These chapters definitely capture the experiences, transformations and emotions that these journeys bring forth for the individual.

The Epilogue is so poignant, no stone is left unturned.  It truly touched my heart.  Though I am certainly no "Long Rider," through my own experiences and my chosen life styles I can relate to all that was written regarding the Long Rider and their return to a world unknown to them and all the so-called complexities of the "civilized life". Even those who have never experienced such transitions can understand what these riders have felt because it is written with such clarity.

The comprehensive compilation of this vast amount of experienced information and knowledge from the author, plus the contributions of other Long Riders, makes this volume invaluable and unlike anything out there.  Certainly future Long Riders will benefit from this book, but most of all the one who makes the trip possible will benefit the most, the "Horse". These books honour the Horse and the Long Rider; “HONOUR: to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect; honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions”. I believe most Long Riders definitely reflect Honour, it is at the core of who they truly are and why they choose to make the journey.

It has been a wonderful experience traveling through the three volumes of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration. I have learned so much and I have no words to express my gratitude to CuChullaine and Basha O’Reilly for making this possible.  Not only for me but for all the other seekers, especially the Long Riders that have not realized they are a Long Rider.  These Volumes will be opening doors they never imagined and one day they will find themselves on a great "Spiritual" journey that will change their lives forever.

Shortie Graham is preparing to make an equestrian journey in Canada.

Learning to Listen to Your Horse

In the three volumes of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, CuChullaine has meticulously researched 6,000 years of equine history and knowledge. The books contain details about thousands of documented equine explorations and are enriched by the publication of hundreds of rare pictures.

In Volume III of The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, CuChullaine O’Reilly continues his: “Step by Step How-to" teaching process, by taking the reader into the saddle and setting off on a journey. This volume provides answers to questions such as when to start you day, when to take breaks, when to end your day, how and when to unsaddle, and when to water and feed? He also offers counseling on the unexpected emotional implications connected to the end of the journey.

Any rider wishing to see the far horizons between the ears of a faithful equine partner can serve his horse and himself no better than to heed the wisdom shared in these three volumes.

It nearly impossible to put into words how much The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration has emotionally and intellectually impacted me. I have learned so much. Most importantly, CuChullaine you have taught me how to listen to my horse as she tells me her needs. Thank you seems so inadequate for that precious gift. I am honoured and humbled to have been among the first to read the three volumes of the Encyclopaedia.

Jim Hasty is preparing to make an equestrian journey in the United States.

 The Journey -The Ride

The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, Volume III is the must-read follow-up to the first two volumes. The entire set might be a winter’s read, but it’s a good one. In this volume the author takes us through the details of the ride itself. How far can you go in a day and at what pace? How do you feed and water the horses? How do you prevent saddle sores? How do you conduct yourself around others? 

Once again, you fall under the spell of a master story-teller who is also an investigative journalist. The stories and information he has unearthed is astounding. If you thought you were pretty knowledgeable about horses, these volumes will open you to further inquiry. In Volume III, O’Reilly goes deeper into the practice of delayed off-saddling. The Asian equestrian cultures, with centuries of experience in horse travel, do not immediately remove the saddle after a ride. They wait until the back is cool and dry, which might take as much as an hour. This is how they prevent “scalding” and saddle sores. Saddle sores can stop a journey. While it may seem absurd in Western practice, at the least, a Long Rider will be paying close attention to his horse’s back. Remember, as O’Reilly states, “We are taking a modern horse and asking him to perform an ancient service – unmechanized transportation”.

“A great journey is completed without a drop of cruelty”, the author indicates. There is no honor in completing a ride with injured horses. Whether a rider encounters hospitality or hostility on his ride may be influenced by former Long Riders who passed through an area. He mentions the deep conversations that occur when the rider will be moving on the next day, never to be seen again. I experienced this time after time on my 8,000 mile ride throughout the U.S. 

The heart of the ride is the “The Long Quiet”, as the author calls it. There are two worlds, he relates, the physical world and the other world. The other world goes beyond everyday events. This is the inner journey. This may be the most important chapter in the volume.

Long Riders put a great deal of planning into their journeys, but seldom do they consider that they must also plan for the conclusion of their journey. Saying goodbye to his horse may be the most difficult thing a Long Rider has to do. One Long Rider had to end his trip prematurely due to his father’s pending death. Having to quickly sell his beloved draft mare, Louise, he encountered cruel deceit. But then it was followed by a miracle. Louise was headed to auction to be sold for meat, but ended up in a green pasture. Untold evil. Untold good.

Long Riders often feel disoriented when they return home after a long ride. Other than a destination reached or not reached, few people can understand the magnitude of an equestrian journey. Long Riders tend to be lone souls. But five Long Riders from various countries were invited to an event planned by the author to share their experiences. They talked non-stop for three days. This is what the author relates in his three volumes, along with many other experiences he has collected over the decades, and he has the words for it. The group shared that “in the saddle, their lives never burned so brilliantly. Reaching their destination, they felt victorious. And then the darkness fell upon them.” This leads to the chapter, “Between two Worlds”. One thing is certain. A Long Rider is a changed person after his journey.

Long Rider Jeremy James calls it re-orientation versus disorientation. “The rides do not disturb so much as set us free. It is as though we caught a glimpse of something and knew it to be true and fine.”

The Epilogue is the chapter that reaches into the future. Equestrian travel is not dead. “The story of equestrian travel is not fixed in time or rooted in space,” the author tells us. “As circumstances change, every generation has created a new version of equestrian travel in its own image.” These volumes have preserved valuable knowledge that was nearly lost, knowledge from a global scale. For a Long Rider who wishes to complete a journey without “a drop of cruelty”, it is a must-read. There is nothing like it, ever written. These volumes will also be of value to historians and any of the humanitarian sciences, no doubt finding their way into the great libraries of the world. But it is one photograph that says it all for me. English Long Rider Bill Holt always slept next to his horse, Trigger, no matter what the weather. The photo is the two of them, side by side, stretched out on the ground. The halter and rope also lie on the ground.

American Long Rider Lucy Leaf made an 8,000-mile journey through the United States.

 


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