Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America

With his young horse as his spiritual guide John slowly began to comprehend his own place in the world and to find peace within himself.
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Book Description:

In 1974 a disenfranchised young man from a broken home set out to do the impossible. With a hundred dollars in his pocket, a beat up cavalry saddle, and a faraway look in his eye, John Egenes saddled his horse Gizmo and started down the trail on an adventure across the North American continent. Their seven month journey took them across 11 states from California to Virginia, ocean to ocean.. As they left the pressing confinement of the city behind them, the pair experienced the isolation and loneliness of the southwestern deserts, the vastness of the prairie, and the great landscapes that make up America. Across hundreds of miles of empty land they slept with coyotes and wild horses under the stars, and in urban areas they camped alone in graveyards and abandoned shacks. Along the way John and Gizmo were transformed from inexperienced horse and rider to veterans of the trail. With his young horse as his spiritual guide John slowly began to comprehend his own place in the world and to find peace within himself. Full of heart and humor, Egenes serves up a tale that’s as big as the America he witnessed, an America that no longer exists. It was a journey that could only have been experienced step by step, mile by mile, from the view between a horse’s ears.

In 1975 I was a 15 year old kid reading John's articles in Horse & Rider. Now I'm a 57 year old endurance rider with over 9,000 miles of competition and I was thrilled when my husband bought this book for me on a whim and I recognized Gizmo's name. I expected a very simple "rain today" type logbook written by a young man. Instead I got an incredibly articulate account through the eyes of a highly educated man 40 years after he accomplished an epic journey. Beautifully written. I wish it hadn't ended. I happened to be reading it this week when I had to put down my horse Kaboot who was "my Gizmo" after 24 years of partnership. We had completed 3050 miles of competition (many more in training), been through some very tough situations, 7 one day 100 milers and plenty of 50 mile races in rain, lightning, lost, etc, but I would not even think of doing what he did for one week. I *know* how it feels to be cold and wet and in lightning, but I was always able to get dry and safe. I can't even begin to comprehend what it took to do that day after day with only the gear on my horse, no tent, just a poncho. As a serious distance rider I really appreciated the skill it took to get through and details that a horseman would appreciate, like that Gizmo wore a double 00 shoe, and the make of his saddle, details that we care about. It was very comforting to read his accounts of being in my shoes, sharing such a huge chunk of our lives with a horse and just to feel someone else understood how close the bond can be. Thank you for this book. It is a gem.

-- Angie

My pal Daniel Boling (songwriter and singer) posted about this on Facebook. Bought it on Kindle, now buying hard copies for two friends. A great adventure story with snakes, scorpions, human predators, an extraordinary friendship between the author and a 4-year-old Quarter Horse gelding and America. The lovely thing about the written word is the chance it gives readers to vicariously experience such stuff!

-- P. W. Peterson

About the Author ▸ John Egenes

John Egenes has been a musician, a saddlemaker, a dog catcher, and a hobo, among other things. He only learns by making mistakes and he views his life through a windshield full of squashed bugs. He makes his home in New Zealand.
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