It seemed like a perfectly
natural thing to do. Go to Russia, befriend the Cossacks, buy a stallion and
then trot him more than 2,500 miles back to England. Of course the Soviet
Union had just collapsed and no one had ever been allowed to ride out of
that communist empire. But such minor obstacles didn’t deter the author of
this remarkable book.
“Bandits and Bureaucrats” unfolds
in 1994 when a swirling political landscape allowed the author to travel
through a recently off-limits country. What she found was a nation in
unexpected transition. Emerging from decades of brutal governance, for a
brief moment in time Russia’s rules were no longer enforced and a rare
opportunity existed to cross the secretive nation on horseback.
Unexpected discoveries quickly
followed. Because of decades of communist repression, ordinary people had
never seen a woman in the saddle and in a landscape devoid of fences Basha
rode from Russia into Belarus simply by crossing the river.
Though she relished the
simplicity of this new life, the author had to contend with the harsh
realities of equestrian travel including KGB interviews, risky rapists and
horse-hating bureaucrats. With its rich details, the book qualifies as an
important addition to the history of equestrian travel. Yet there is more to
this tale than reaching a distant geographic goal.
Written by one of the foremost
female equestrian explorers alive today, Basha’s story explains how the
journey encouraged her to change the direction of her life. When the western
obsession with possessions was replaced with a love of personal liberty,
what appeared to be the end of a journey was only the beginning of a life
lived at the gallop.
Sometimes our soul's song stirs.
The ice that has confined us begins to crack. Lethargy burns off in the heat
of a newly discovered passion. Gypsy blood, long denied, sings to a moon,
long ignored. And our life is suddenly taken away from where we lived, from
what we knew, from who we were. Here is the tale of how a brave woman
discovered a horse that took her past frontiers, both physical and
spiritual, into a new history, a new life, and a new name.
The result is that what might
have been a simple travel tale becomes the remarkable story of a woman’s
transformation and the magnificent Cossack stallion that went on to become
the symbol of the international Long Riders' Guild.
To order the
book, please contact
The Long Riders’ Guild