The Book

Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America

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.

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Excerpts

1974 [Excerpt]

It was such a long time ago. I’m old now, road weary and weather beaten. Rode hard and put away wet, as the cowboys say. The years have left their marks. This body of mine seems like it belongs to someone else. It sags where it once was drawn taut; joints that moved...

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Another Summer Storm [Excerpt]

As we left Las Vegas, New Mexico, we turned straight eastward and climbed up onto a high plain. For the first time I began to feel our passage through the southwestern desert. The Rocky Mountains were receding behind us, though we would see them for many days and...

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Passing The Time [Excerpt]

We rode for three hours this morning. I pulled Gizmo up and unsaddled for the midday break well before noon. We spent two hours resting, letting his back cool and letting my feet cool when I pulled off my boots. We hit the trail again for a couple more hours, and we...

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Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow [Excerpt]

I'm riding my sorrel companion down a two lane backroad through northeastern Tennessee. In Texas, they would call it a farm-to-market road. Sometimes it has a grass shoulder to ride on, sometimes not. The road has seen better days, but it retains its utility and...

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1974 [Excerpt]

It was such a long time ago. I’m old now, road weary and weather beaten. Rode hard and put away wet, as the cowboys say. The years have left their marks. This body of mine seems like it belongs to someone else. It sags where it once was drawn taut; joints that moved...

read more

Predators [Excerpt]

I was giving Gizmo a drink from the radiator filler hose at a run-down Shamrock station outside of Briscoe, Texas. Grain elevators rose like launchpads in the distance, towering above the flat Texas Panhandle and clearly marking the route of the defunct Panhandle and...

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Things That Go Bump In The Dark [Excerpt]

We wandered through Knoxville today. I pushed us into town as far as I could last night, and we camped out in the veterans’ cemetery. The grass had been cut pretty short, but Gizmo managed a decent meal. It's hard getting all the way through a big city like this with...

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An Old Horse Trader [Excerpt]

John Becker was born in 1889 and had led an incredibly varied life. He lived with his wife, Ruth, in a small house they had homesteaded in the fifties, far out in the Mojave Desert. They invited us to stay the night, and I was glad I had accepted. I sat transfixed as...

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…captured me from the first page. A glimpse into times past, an America no longer accessible, and a journey for no real reason other than a personal drive.