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Jeremy James

The Welsh equestrian author and Long Rider who undertook pioneering research into the role of the horse in the Ottoman Empire before writing the historically accurate book, The Byerley Turk.  He is also the author of Saddletramp and Vagabond.


1 -    What is the single greatest change you have witnessed in the equestrian world during your life time?

The loss of the real horseman Ė and I donít mean horse whisperers or natural horse-methodists or whatever you might call them, I mean the real, genuine horse coper who had not only an innate affinity for horses but so often to be seen with them as a real affinity horses had for them and that is something that just cannot be faked.

 

2 -    Do you ride?

Not these days.

 

3 -    Do you own a horse?

Lost my last a couple of months ago Ė he was an old pal, old Gonzo. He was irreplaceable.

 

4 -    Who is your favourite horse in history?

Asterixís horse, the white one with the knobbly knees and big teeth. He reminds me of my Turkish horse Ashmed Pasha, they shared the same kind of ludicrous fortune.

 

 

5 -    Who do you think was the most influential equestrian human in history and why?

For me it was definitely the Lone Rangerís sidekick Tonto, whose fluid ability with horses so outstripped his masked and showy counterpart that even at the age of eleven or whatever I was at the time, I watched in delight as he slid on and off saddleless horses, galloped them bareback up and down precipitous slopes and never neglected their need for food and water Ė unlike just about every other cowboy Iíve ever seen.. He was my hero.

 

6 -    What was your greatest equestrian influence from books or cinema when you were young?

 

Oh dear, I seem to have answered this one one early: Tonto. Although I had more than a passing admiration for Hercules, Steptoe and Sons rag and bone horse. Whose daily uncomplaining efforts kept the show on the road.

 

7 -    What equestrian book would you recommend today and why?

A Tale of Two Horses, Tschiffelyís childrenís book about Mancha and Gato. Itís full of marvellous observation and, more importantly, respect.

 

8 -    How did you initially become interested in your specific equestrian specialty?

Long Riding? For years and years I had an image in my mind: it was seeing myself with two horses, a gelding and a mare crossing some wild landscape somewhere in the world. It was a long held dream. I pictured it very clearly and never let it go. The day I found myself doing it was to discover what it really felt like to achieve a long held ambition. It had a profound impact on me. It was deeply satisfying not just on the physical plane but on a far far deeper level, particularly since the horses I was riding matched my dream very great precision. It was uncanny. Marvellous, wonderful, exhilarating and uncanny.

 

9 -    What prompted you to enter that field?

Iíve always loved horses Ė and I mean that: I am drawn to them on a powerful emotional level - but have never been remotely interested in hunting, jumping, three day eventing, racing, chasing or any other competitive activity: no, I wanted to be with a horse to be with a horse without any external pressure to deal with him in some conventional way.

 

10 -    Did someone encourage your decision or inspire you?

On the contrary, when I told people that I planned a long distance journey on horseback I was derided, mocked, made fun of. I soon learned to be quiet about it. When I returned after my first long ride, I noticed the people who has scorned me didnít have the grace to anything about my experiences. I realised then that it was a lonely world, the world of long distance riding and least talked about, unless to someone else who had done it, the better.

 

11 -  When did you begin your research, investigation, work?

In some ways I donít think I really did any, trusting to the laws of good fortune to see me through.

 

12 -    What do you think is your most important discovery, achievement or insight regarding your equestrian work?

To have discovered that my affection for horses is genuine. It is not a fly-by-night thing, itís not a passing sensation, not a here-today-gone -tomorrow aberrant, quick gratification thing: no, to have discovered it to be deep, permanent and life long makes me feel a lot better about myself knowing that I have therefore fooled no-one, least of all myself.

 

13 -    What modern technology, techniques and media have you found most helpful?

Donít like any of them in fact. Iíll stick to compasses, cobwebs, honey, garlic, well fitting saddles and the spirit of the horse I am with.

 

14 -    What part of your work do you find most fulfilling?

My work? What work? Writing about it? I wish I could convey what I really feel. Better to put the pen down and go and be with the horse. Itís a better sensation.

 

15 -    Whatís been your biggest disappointment in your work?

That I have to do it. Iíd much rather just knock about with a horse all day every day.

 

16 -    How do you explain the gulf between academic equestrian investigation and the average horse owner?

Ooof, what a question. Boils down to what the rider concerned is after: if he/she is just after glory then thatíll being its own raft of disappointments and successes. Much so-called interest in horses is spawned from getting people interested who are not really equipped to deal with horses. Theyíre the ones who are always been trodden on, always getting clopped, thrown, made angry, always have expensive vet bills and always have unhappy horses.

 

17 -    What equestrian subjects are in need of more research and investigation?

Practical handling.

 

18 -    Which part of the equestrian world would you like to see reformed and why?

More credence been given to the horse for its ability to think independently and creatively.

 

19 -    How do you traditionally deliver your findings or message and how would you ideally like to do so?

By example.

 

20 -    What intellectual, technical or ethical advances would you like to see in the horse world?

Only go into the world of horses if you are truly drawn, rather than just stimulated.

 

21 -    Do you foresee any difficulties for the horse world in the immediate future?

Yes: more round and round the ring stuff.

 

22 -    What is the greatest challenge facing the horse world in the long term?

Keeping the poor bloody things sane.

 

23 -     What books, magazines, websites, etc. can people read and review to learn more about your work?

The Long Riderís Guild.

 

24 - Any final thoughts?

N/A.

 

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