Julie Miller – Great Horse Treks of the World

Review courtesy of iafrica.com – Karen Whitty – Wed, 17 Nov 2004

 

Julie Miller’s aspirational tour of the world’s greatest horse treks will have you trotting off into the sunset — without a single saddle sore.

And that’s why this book is a winner; apart from the almost-divine communion with nature that horse trekking brings, the pastime, a privilege most often reserved for the well-heeled traveller, does not come without pain. Ten days in the saddle, except for the thick-bottomed horse fanatic, is no mean feat – I speak from experience – but this book will take you there, bum intact.

‘Great Horse Treks of the World’ is a photography-driven coffee table book that captures the uniqueness of travel on horseback, selecting one trek of between five and 10 days from 21 different countries.

From the rolling pampas of Mexico, to Iceland’s green hills and India’s ancient deserts, Miller gallops over five continents to give you a breathless view of our planet’s natural beauty.

But the horses, rather than the scenery, are the stars of this show. Geared towards the horse-lover, the book features the animals in almost every picture, and details of the breeds ridden, riding styles and tack used, cater for the horsey reader. Those not in the know, however, are not excluded; the scenes and stories are accessible enough to be enjoyed by all.

Miller has picked the genuinely good treks out from the gimmicks, often choosing the luxurious over the more adventurous and budget-friendly. But this is a book to encourage dreams — it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

The details of each tour operator used is listed at the back, but there is little choice of operators and no advice on visas, insurance issues and other nuts-and-bolts info that could prove useful should an aspirant reader decide to take up the reins.

Details like the duration of each trek, the pace, riding ability required and maps are provided, but most of the room is taken by photographs and stories — some of them lacking a little in quality and originality.

But the strength of the book is its portrayal of each country’s culture through its relationship with its horses, especially in the case of France, Hungary, Spain, India and Turkey.

From the cute, fluffy Icelandic horse, the powerful Arabs and Lipizaaners of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, India’s lanky, pointy-eared Marawan geldings and South Africa’s stocky Boerperd, the sheer variety of breeds and owners gives a unique glimpse of the world’s different cultures.

‘Great Horse Treks of the World’ will be a welcome addition to any coffee table dreamer’s collection.