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The Tschiffely Collection
The Hanbury-Tenison Collection
The Cunninghame Graham Collection
The Isabella Bird Collection
Australia and the Pacific
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Robin Hanbury-Tenison - This is the story of a unique
journey in which the explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison and his wife Louella
rode on horseback alongside the Great Wall of China in 1986. On a
series of Chinese horses, and often spending up to twelve hours a day in the
saddle, they covered a distance of a thousand miles through regions of China
still closed to foreigners. In their leather chaps and floppy Camargue
hats, they were objects of intense curiosity to the Chinese people whom they
encountered in their spectacular three-and-a-half month journey through
Despite endless difficulties with reluctant officialdom, the Hanbury-Tenisons
managed to get permission to travel long sections of the Wall from the
Yellow Sea in the east to the edge of the Gobi desert in the west.
They had a support crew of a Chinese interpreter, a driver and a cook, who
doubled as a bodyguard. It was the first time that the Chinese
authorities had sanctioned such a journey.
Escaping the roads and towns and industrial landscape, the Hanbury-Tenisons
saw a China and its people that few foreigners have ever seen. From
their experience of riding alone across this vast country, away from towns
and organized groups, we gain a fresh insight into the past and present of
the oldest civilization on earth. Go to
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Or go to the author's
own website for a signed copy!
Eighteen Hundred Miles on a Burmese Pony, George Younghusband
- Prepare for a
equestrian surprise. If you think this book is another one of those
tired 19th century tales about a heroic white man making his way
through a tract of nameless jungle – then think again.
For herein lies the tale of the most unlikely horse hero of that bygone era.
According to his own pen, young British Subaltern George Younghusband was,
“sick of the pomps and vanities of this civilized world of ours.”
Though stationed in colorful India, Younghusband decided to spend his army
leave by exploring southern Burma on horseback.
In early 1887 the adventurous, if inexperienced, equestrian explorer set off
with a Ghurka orderly, a Madrassi cook, an interpreter known as “the
Archbishop” and of course the hero of this tale, Joe the Burmese Pony.
There is no tale in all of equestrian travel literature which paints a
picture of a more loveable scamp than Joe, this delightful four-footed
With his keen eye, Younghusband regales his readers with remarks on the
customs of the country. “The whole of our baggage was not more than
two respectable mule loads but it made me positively weep to see a great
brawny elephant looking quite injured at having to carry a load that one of
our regimental mules would have smiled sarcastically at.”
Yet this is no story of brawny elephants.
It deals instead with Younghusband’s Burmese pony, who despite his
diminutive size, gave the professional horseman more than he bargained for.
“Having been a cavalry soldier for some years, and rather fancying myself a
decent rider, I had never viewed this small atom of horse-flesh otherwise
than in the light of a means of conveyance when I was tired. However, he
very soon knocked all that nonsense out of me; for he went off like a streak
of lightning, stampeded the two elephants, who immediately devastated the
village, and shed my goods on the roofs of houses.”
What follows is the good-hearted tale of a young man, discovering an
enchanted country, aboard a once-in-a-lifetime horse.
“That pony of mine is quite the wickedest pony in Asia,” Younghusband
recalled. ”He is only 12 hands high but contains all the mischievousness of
fifty children. When I am in a hurry, he hides behind a tree. Do I want to
give him his grain? He goes and stands on the far side of a quagmire. When I
want to go slow, he runs away. When I want to go fast, he pretends to be
lame. Is my dinner cooking on the fire? Off he goes and tips it over. When I
have a basin of water to wash in, darned if he doesn’t drink it. Have I tied
him up with everything I possess? He eludes it somehow. Am I dead tired and
fast asleep? He sticks his nose into me.” the Long Rider lamented.
Complete with pencil drawings done by the author, this delightful book takes
the reader on a mounted journey complete with the requisite adventures, but
with the added delight of a pint-sized hero you’ll never forget.
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In the Hoofprints of
Marco Polo, Major Clarence Dalrymple Bruce -
There is an old saying among the equestrian
journeyers of Central Asia that a unique occasion will produce a special
man. When such a rare occasion arose in 1905 for a courageous horseman to
ride from Kashmir to Peking, Major Clarence Bruce stepped into the saddle
and cantered into Long Rider history.
As the 20th century dawned this soldier turned author found
himself on the wrong side of the Himalayas. Bruce had previously led a
regiment of Chinese solders. Yet fate now placed him in picturesque
Srinagar, Kashmir, thousands of miles away from faraway Peking where he
wished to be.
So Bruce did what
any Long Rider would do – the impossible.
He began by
making his way to the mountain kingdom of Ladakh. There he enlisted a crew
of “wild looking ruffians and 28 rugged ponies,” then set off on an
eight-month journey that taxed men and horses to their limits. Mounted on
his trusty 13 hand high Kashmiri pony, Bruce started by leading his caravan
over 18,000 foot high Himalayan passes, before descending onto the Devil’s
Plain in Tibet. The caravan was hard pressed to avoid detection by these
xenophobic mountaineers who were adamant about keeping foreigners like Bruce
out of their “forbidden kingdom.”
They needn’t have
bothered. Bruce had set his sights on Peking, thousands of kilometers away,
so he wasn’t inclined to linger near Lhasa. From freezing in Tibet, Bruce
next crossed into Chinese Turkistan. There he stood face to face with the
infamous Lop Nor desert.
It was in this
dreaded wasteland, as they followed “in the hoofprints of Marco Polo,” that
Bruce’s caravan suffered. Men collapsed. Ponies died. Yet they still rode
towards mythical Peking. “The ponies never failed us, no matter how
impossible the ground was,” Bruce recalled.
Hoofprints of Marco Polo” is that rare kind of book, one that reads as fresh
today as it did the day Bruce set his pen to paper. Its pages are full of
brave men and braver horses, wild mountains and picturesque tribesmen. Amply
illustrated with photos taken by the author, this equestrian travel classic
also contains an excellent appendix, complete with all of the author’s
For more information, please go to
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à Moscou, Madame de Bourboulon -
though she lived and rode in the adventure-soaked nineteenth century,
there were few women who could match the amazing life and exploits of
Catherine de Bourboulon. Born in Scotland in the 1820s, Catherine Fanny
MacLeod was taken by her mother to live in the United States at an early
age. Later the young traveler journeyed on to Mexico. There MacLeod
discovered Phillipe de Bourboulon, a Frenchman who not only became the
love of her life but harbored a spirit as wild as her own.
Soon after they married the newlyweds left Mexico, arriving in China in
1849. They lived among the splendors and intrigues of the Chinese imperial
court for ten years before deciding it was time to return to Europe. Then
Catherine made an amazing suggestion. Rather than embarking on the first
ship bound for France, she and Phillipe would instead ride 12,000 miles
through some of the most desolate and dangerous portions of Asia!
“Shang-Haï à Moscou” is thus the account of this amazing
journey undertaken by the young lovers on horseback from 1859 to 1862.
Written in French from diaries Fanny kept during the journey
through Mongolia, Siberia and Russia, the book is compiled from a series
of magazine articles published in Paris during the mid-nineteenth century.
Alas, Catherine MacLeod de Bourboulon died soon after her return to
Europe. She was only 38 years old. Much of her exciting story was later
plagiarized by Jules Verne for his famed Cossack novel, “Michael
Illustrated with dozens of pen and ink sketches from Catherine’s
historic trip, this is the first time the fantastic travel account has
been offered for sale in the English speaking world. The rediscovered
classic remains fascinating reading for students of the horse or history.
Note - because these stories appeared in magazine form, the pages are not
Traveller in China, Christina Dodwell - Christina Dodwell’s wanderlust, combined with her inventive and unorthodox
methods of travel and her unquenchable curiosity about people, make her the
ideal guide to the remoter parts of China’s vast territory. She visits
regions largely inhabited by the many ethnic minority groups, still living
their distinctive lifestyles.
A four-day bus
journey to Kashgar begins Christina’s journey, followed by a canoe journey
from Lake Karakol. She followed Marco Polo’s route to Beijing, past the
ruined cities of the Silk Road. In Xinjiang she spent time with migrating
Kazakhs setting up their summer camp. Her canoe journey on the Yellow River
resulted in her finding a hitherto-unknown portion of the Great Wall, and in
Beijing she tracked down the house in which her grandmother had lived in the
time of the warlords. In a side trip to Tibet, Christina spent time in a
nomad tent, sharing the elaborate plaiting and ornamentation ritual of a
women’s hairdressing session.
Chinese tourists when she visits the oldest surviving frescoes in China, the
Xian terracotta army, and spends a few days at the famous lamasery of
Taer’si. She witnessed the dragon boat race on Lake Er Hai, But her most
precious moments were camping alone on the edge of an ice-bound lake,
finding a way to unvisited beehive tombs in the Gobi, climbing a remote
sacred mountain in Yunnan Province and paddling her small canoe cautiously
into the mighty Yangtse.
Christina’s great courage, open mind and unbounded curiosity enable her to
go to places few would dare visit, and she almost invariably finds kindness
and hospitality wherever she travels.
For more information on this book, please visit
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Tracks in Japan - Volumes One and Two, Isabella Bird - She was a legend, and now she is forgotten. Her name was Isabella Bird
and she was one of the greatest equestrian travellers of all time.
means, unhealthy, unwed, physically unimpressive, Isabella Bird chose to
venture out into the world, a place which in the late nineteenth century was
still full of dangers, discomforts, and unexplored countries.
in Japan” is one of her five famous equestrian trips. She had ridden
throughout the Hawaiian paradise, crossed the mighty Rocky Mountains on
horseback, explored Tibet from the saddle and went on to canter across
Morocco when she was in her seventies. But her 600 mile solo ride through
Japan was a monumental mixture of mounted adventure and keen cultural
Suffering from an
unspecified illness, Isabella left her English home in 1878 journeying to
Japan to “improve her health.” Her unorthodox cure consisted of buying a
local horse and exploring the islands of the reclusive Japanese homeland.
The Long Rider author carefully docu-mented various aspects of the
fascinating culture she discovered, describing a host of subjects ranging
from “Children’s Games” to “A Narrow Escape.”
"I lived among
the Japanese, and saw their mode of living, in regions unaffected by
European contact. As a lady travelling alone, and the first European lady
who had been seen in several districts through which my route lay, my
experiences differed more or less widely from those of preceding travellers,"
Though her quest for equestrian
adventure was to turn her into a compulsive traveller, Isabella’s famous
lone trek through the interior of Japan remains a classic and is presented
now in its original two volume set, complete with delightful drawings.
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