Late last year I was given a copy of Man & Horse: the Long Ride Across America by John Egenes to read and review. This story tells a unique tale of a young man in his mid twenties. He sets out across the North American continent on his four year old Quarter Horse. In 1974, he spends 7 months travelling from California to Virginia on horseback.
Man & Horse is a non fiction book, recounting a tale from more than forty years ago. It’s interesting to read the book that was written after the event. John is able to recount what he went through with his young mount named Gizmo. Obvious issues of feeding himself and his horse are common throughout the 7 months of travel.
John first enlightens the reader to his lifestyle as a child and growing up as a teen. Having lost a father figure at a young age, John acknowledges that his mother had to work hard to raise himself and his siblings. They were often in want, but learned to be happy on little. This trait was one that perhaps allowed John to travel with his horse across the continent. He had little more than $100 in his pocket.
The tale of their travels enlightens the reader to particular needs for horses. These include regular shoeing, feed, safe types of horse feed and the opportunity to rest between bouts of being ridden. Gizmo sounds like he was a hardy, fit young horse but the trip wasn’t without its tolls. Mosquito and Deer Fly bites, concerns of colic, run ins with snakes as well as daily issues with finding water and grazing.
Told through John’s eyes, the reader is taken back to a time when it truly was possible to be alone on the trail. John had no phone, the internet wasn’t known back then and his camera did little work along the trail.
John battled bad weather, incredible storms, many hours alone with his horse as well as a black widow spider bite. He encountered some incredible characters, many generous enough to offer stabling, food and a bed for the night along his trails. And he even encountered some not so nice characters who seemed bent on bothering him and his horse.
Man & Horse is an enlightening tale that shows the US in a time where things have drastically changed in the 21st century. For those who are interested in long horse rides and US geography with some history thrown in, this book is worth a look. It’s also a great book to inspire those who have a dream that they just need to get up and pursue.