Monday, December 14, 2020

A Lady's Life In The Rocky Mountains - Isabella Bird

A Lady's Life In The Rocky Mountains

Isabella Bird, (1879) 2015

Born in 1831, Isabella, daughter of a clergyman, set off alone to the Antipodes in 1872 'in search of health' and found she had embarked on a life of adventurous travel. In 1873, wearing Hawaiian riding dress, she rode on her spirited horse Birdie through the American 'Wild West', a terrain only recently opened to pioneer settlement. Here she met Rocky Mountain Jim, her 'dear (one-eyed) desperado', fond of poetry and whisky - 'a man any women might love, but no sane woman would marry'. He helped her climb the 'American Matterhorn' and round up cattle on horseback.

The wonderful letters which make up this volume were first published in 1879 and were enormously popular in Isabella Bird's lifetime. They tell of magnificent unspoilt landscapes and abundant wildlife, of small remote townships, of her encounters with rattlesnakes, wolves, pumas and grizzly bears and her reactions to the volatile passions of the miners and pioneer settlers.

Monday, December 7, 2020

From East to West by Saddle is Best: A horseback journey across the Scottish Highlands - Claire Alldritt

From East to West By Saddle is Best - A horseback journey across the Scottish Highlands

Claire Alldritt, 2020

What started as an idea on maps spread out along the length of her kitchen floor, turned into a challenging journey over mountains, through glens and around lochs. Against the backdrop of stunning Highland scenery, Claire Alldritt made her way from the east coast of Scotland, journeying with her two horses, working her way across to the west to dip her toes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Often using old drovers’ roads and avoiding as much tarmac as she could, this is a story of exploration, trust and resilience mixed with insightful glances into the history of the land passed through. Claire’s journey shows the value of friends old and new (whether with four legs or two) written with lively imagination and humour as they make their way along the trail.

Saddle up and take a ride across the Highlands with Claire, Swift and Yogi!

What they are saying:

“It was a delight to read, beautifully descriptive, a good mix of humour, history, trials and tribulations, anxieties, how to overcome things, teamwork, talking horses and what a journey!”

“I've now got cold coffee; I didn’t even turn the TV on last night as I couldn’t put it down and I am often chuckling out loud. A great mix of anecdote, history, description, and discussion with horses.”

“I thought it would just be something for the interested horsey person, but I love it as a travel book. Some nice ingredients there - personal anecdotes, a lively bit of imagination and some travel description. I loved it!”

“I love your descriptiveness; I can visualize it well. It made me actually smell the pine trees! Lovely to see the horse’s characters coming through and I love that your horses ‘talk’.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

Distant Skies: An American Journey on Horseback - Melissa A Priblo Chapman

Distant Skies: An American Journey on Horseback

Melissa A Priblo Chapman, 2020

Part American road trip, part coming-of-age adventure, and part uncommon love story—a remarkable memoir that explores the evolution of the human-animal relationship, along with the raw beauty of a life lived outdoors.

Melissa Chapman was 23 years old and part of a happy, loving family. She had a decent job, a boyfriend she cared about, and friends she enjoyed. Yet she said goodbye to all of it. Carrying a puppy named Gypsy, she climbed aboard a horse and rode away from everything, heading west.

With no cell phone, no GPS, no support team or truck following with supplies, Chapman quickly learned that the reality of a cross-country horseback journey was quite different from the fantasy. Her solo adventure would immediately test her mental, physical, and emotional resources as she and her four-legged companions were forced to adapt to the dangers and loneliness of a trek that would span over 2,600 miles, beginning in New York State and reaching its end on the other side of the country, in California.

Enchanted by the freedom a nomadic life seemed to promise, the young woman would soon find herself only more deeply connected…to the animals that accompanied her, to the varying and challenging landscapes through which she traveled, and to the people she met on the farms and back roads that crisscross the United States. Chapman's vigilance in detailing the quietest moments of heroism and beauty, as well as the startling and tragic, yields a read that convinces one of both the magnificence of the countryside and the generosity of the people who call it home. A book for the equestrian, the animal lover, and the outdoor enthusiast—or anyone who dreams about one day bringing a longed-for adventure to life.