The best horse adventure books from a world-traveling Endurance horse rider

Who am I?

I've been addicted to horses for as long as I can remember – not that I'm complaining. Reading The Black Stallion books as a youngster started me down the path of a life with equines. Everything fell into place, one step after another, as I became a racetrack groom, horse photographer, writer, traveler, Endurance rider, and author. I write and photograph for numerous magazines, and I’ve authored five books and several short e-stories on horses. My long-time love was my off-the-track Thoroughbred Stormy, who lived to be 30, and I currently own Hillbillie Willie, an off-the-track Standardbred who loves Endurance riding.

I wrote...

Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond

By Merri Melde,

Book cover of Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond

What is my book about?

Clinging to a four-legged rocket ship among the Pyramids in Egypt. Riding a racehorse on the Curragh in Ireland. Winning a first endurance ride in Texas. Flipping a packhorse down a cliff in California. Flying on a Lord of the Rings horse in New Zealand. Cowgirling it in Idaho.

Capturing the beauty, the humor, the thrills, the fun, the fear, and above all, the love of the equine that goes deep down into the soul, these serendipitous equine adventures are the fabric of an eclectic, adventurous lifestyle with magnificent horses.

The books I picked & why

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Ten Feet Tall, Still

By Julie Suhr,

Book cover of Ten Feet Tall, Still

Why this book?

When I grow up, I want to be Julie Suhr. She has lived an incredible life, from childhood to old age, of adventure with horses. The sport of Endurance riding took her around the world, and horses have carried her on breathtaking unforgettable rides. Her evocative and poignant writing style will grab your heart and have you reading some of the chapters again and again. I found myself in my tent, the night before I rode the Tevis Cup, again reading her magical chapter about that ride.

Julie's book (and Julie herself) inspired me to write my first book. I've been lucky enough to emulate her life just a little bit in my world Endurance riding adventures with horses. Now in her 90's, Julie's still a horsewoman and still an inspiration to me.

Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America

By John Egenes,

Book cover of Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America

Why this book?

Back in the day when you could ride across the country, an inexperienced young John Egenes and his young gelding Gizmo left a broken home in California, looking toward the Atlantic Ocean. Over the seven months of their exploit, they learned to depend on each other and become true partners as they found their way eastward.

I loved this story as a journey, both as a long horseback ride and a personal journey. John has a candid and humorous way of looking at life and describing the people and adventures along the way – the good and the bad. It's an up close and personal adventure across the country, shared with man's best friend,  one that I wish I could have done.

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

By Isabella L. Bird,

Book cover of A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Why this book?

When I find myself thinking, “I can't do that,” I think of Isabella Bird, living a brave and intrepid solo life on horseback in the 1870s, long before it was considered an acceptable thing for women to do. 

I can imagine the extraordinary bond she had with her mare, Birdie, and the extreme confidence she had in herself, as she shared trails with hunters and trappers, miners and ranchers, enjoying and appreciating nature, the wildlife, and the wild lands. She must have felt so free and self-assured.

Her humorous and astute observation of the colorful characters paint a picture of life in the West before it was settled, a West I wish still existed and that I could ride into.

Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest

By Douglas Preston,

Book cover of Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest

Why this book?

This is the kind of ride I'd love to do if I had the horse and the time: a thousand-mile exploration across the desert Southwest over some of the most rugged and remote country I'd never get to see otherwise.

Preston and a partner retrace as best they can the journey of the 1540s Spanish explorer Coronado in his search for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold, experiencing some of the same misadventures and encountering some of the same Pueblo tribes.

I learned much about the history that is seldom told – how tribes were invaded and subjugated by Coronado in his bloody quest for gold, but also about the stoicism and ultimate triumph of some of the tribes who still live there today.

Tevis Cup Magic: Taking on the World’s Toughest 100 Mile Endurance Ride

By Merri Melde,

Book cover of Tevis Cup Magic: Taking on the World’s Toughest 100 Mile Endurance Ride

Why this book?

Every horse Endurance ride has its challenges and difficulties, but the Tevis Cup has 100 miles of it. It's extreme, challenging, relentless, frantic, exhilarating, heart-breaking, exhausting, exasperating, beautiful, treacherous, insane, exciting. I know first-hand, because I experienced it!

Even though most Endurance riders consider the 100-mile Tevis Cup the Holy Grail of Endurance rides, it was never on my radar, as I never owned my own Endurance horse.

It was pure luck that a friend offered me her spare horse to ride at the last minute, a gallant gray gelding who knew the trail. And so I sat astride Quinn at the starting line of the Tevis Cup and set my gaze 100 miles down the trail toward Auburn. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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