The Big Quiet – One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home
The Saddle Ridge BCHA chapter at Hillsdale Lake, Paola, Kansas, is working hand-in-glove with managers of the Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism to keep trails safe, and this summer, to improve footing and drainage in outdoor stalls available to the public. That is where long rider, Lisa D. Stewart, member of the Saddle Ridge BCHA chapter, hopes to focus her post-long-distance riding career, helping support the chapter through grant writing and helping clear trails.
Stewart first rode 3,000 miles cross country in 1982, through the Rockies and Midwest over seven-and-a-half months. In 2012, at the age of 54, Stewart took the trip she had dreamed of since she was a little girl: alone through Kansas and Missouri. Her book about the 2012 journey launched in June of 2020, The Big Quiet—One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home. It has ranked #1 on Amazon among solo travel guides.
“So many BCHA riders I know wish they could take a cross-country ride,” Stewart said. “I highly recommend it, if nothing else to be reminded what a safe and good land we live in.” For anyone concerned about modern stereotypes of the rural Midwest, Stewart’s memoir, leads the reader into middle America where she was reminded of the beauty and kindness that permeates the land where she grew up. Lisa endured scorching heat in the hottest, driest summer on record in Missouri. She sheltered from microbursts, managed her own fear of the unknown, and faced the danger of sharing byways with cars and trucks. Without support crew or GPS, she knocked on rural doors for water and a patch of shade to test whether her real self—that fearless girl she once had been—still existed, and the whether the country she loved had disappeared.
Lisa retired her horse for the trip in 2018, War Chief Lobo, a registered Missouri Fox Trotter. Now she gets her “horse fixes” helping out at S & S Stables near Hillsdale Lake and volunteering with the Saddle Ridge BCHA chapter there. Lisa is co-founder of Ortho-Flex Saddle Company, which made and sold 25,000 patented saddles with accessories all over the world between 1986 and 2001. She is a commercial writer and business consultant in Kansas City.
The Big Quiet—One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home is published by Meadowlark Books, and can be ordered everywhere books are sold, including Lisa’s website, www.lisadstewart.com. Her blogs focus on long-distance riding and saddle fit, which she says is the most critical factor in a long-distance journey.
Praise for The Big Quiet—One Woman’s Horseback Ride Home.
Lisa Stewart’s The Big Quiet charts a path for all women. This is a delicious fantasy of a journey most of us deny ourselves and one taken on the back of a horse whose simultaneously terrified and fiercely loyal personality unfurls before us as the richest of characters; personalities do. The resulting narrative recounts a journey not only to a point on the map but to a whole and liberated self.
Kelly Barth, author of My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus.
This is a book of gratitude of the highest order…her journey, past and present, is as much about the people she meets, many of whom know how to study a horse and to trust its rider—these strangers are glad to offer water and their own stories, which, like Stewart’s, churn with old wounds, hard work, family, and an abiding trust in open land. This compelling meditation reminds us that every step, fall, and missed road leads the rider home.
Gary Dop, author of Father, Child, Water, MFA Program Director at Randolph College
This book is more than a log of an unusual (for this day and age) solitary horseback journey; it is also a perceptive examination of the author’s own life—a well-written introspective journey of self-discovery.
James F. Hoy, author of Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie,
Chair of Emporia State University’s English Department and professor,
past president of the Kansas Historical Society
After riding more than 3,000 miles across the United States in the early 1980s, Stewart helped launch one of that country’s most successful saddle companies. Yet Lisa Stewart is no salesman, eager to sell a saddle to gain a commission. She is a long rider who made mistakes and learned by them. She faced obstacles and overcame them. She was presented with ancient riddles and discovered solutions.
CuChullaine O’Reilly, FRGS
Founding Member of The Long Riders’ Guild
Learn more about Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA): www.bcha.org