The happiness of the long-distance horse rider

Meet Emile Brager, whose love of long-distance riding has fuelled an industry to help riders explore France

Long-distance riding is gaining in popularity and schemes such as the Route d'Artagnan are opening up possibilities for everyone to make long journeys on horseback

In this hectic, 21st-century world, trekking unhurriedly through uncharted lands on a horse can seem like a long-lost dream of times gone by. But it has not died out completely.

One of the doyens of long-distance horse riding is Frenchman Emile Brager. He has crossed France, Spain and Italy, spent four years travelling 25,000km from the tip of South America through Canada to Alaska, and rode 10,000km around the US, among numerous other long journeys by bicycle and yacht. He is the author of what has become a bible for long-distance riders: ‘Techniques du Voyage à Cheval’.

In it, Brager details how to plan a journey, how to choose horses, pack-animals and companions - both human and canine - what to take and what to leave, how to survive when lost in the wilderness, how to care for horses on long journeys, and even how to kill them, should it be necessary. There’s also advice on how to find food, dealing with hostility and suspicion, keeping up your morale and health, surviving bad weather and how to shoe a horse, as well as adapting to everyday life when the voyage is over. (“The most difficult part of any long journey”, he said.) Brager even lists ways of making money out of your trip to fund the next one. It's an extraordinary book, in French only, available via Emile Brager's website.

He puts his skills down to having been born loving horses. “I always wanted to ride, but my parents couldn't afford lessons, so I had to wait until I'd finished my ...

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