"Now, I rocked along, the sun beating down, the birds trilling or chirping, the wind a pestering sibling. All I felt was my body. Never had I been more inside it. To balance, to feel, to hear the whine of trailer tires, to steer, to grip, to feel my pulse, to smell my horse’s oaky sweat. I felt enormous. And minute. It would take me a week to ride back home from here, eighteen inches per step. I felt bound to the earth by my slowness, caught between the sanctity and stupidity of crossing the state one step at a time on a horse."
- From The Big Quiet
|Book Reviewers: Now available on NetGalley|
At 54, Lisa Stewart set out to regain the fearless girl she once had been, riding her horse, Chief, 500 miles home. Hot, homeless, and horseback, she snapped back into every original cell. On an extraordinary homegoing from Kansas City to Bates and Vernon Counties in Missouri, Lisa exhausted herself, faced her past, trusted strangers, and stayed in the middle of her frightened horse to document modern rural America, the people, animals, and land.
ISBN (print): 978-1-734-2477-4-9
Lisa D. Stewart is a commercial writer in Prairie Village, Kansas, who specializes in feasibility and marketing studies, business plans, grant proposals, magazine articles, and marketing content. Between 1984 and 1999, she and her former husband created and grew Ortho-Flex Saddle Company, after a 3,000-mile horseback trip that taught them about the relationship between saddles and the biomechanics of the horse. The couple produced and sold patented saddles and tack in more than 30 countries. She has published more than 100 articles on that topic of saddle fit. Lisa lives with her husband, Robert Stewart, editor emeritus of New Letters Magazine at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and their dog, Paddy.
“Lisa Stewart’s The Big Quiet charts a path for all women. It’s a path at once dangerous and thrilling and a path she had started down and backed out of since childhood. The resulting narrative recounts a journey not only to a point on the map but to a whole and liberated self. Stewart is finally free to trust herself and others, to survive by her wits and with the help of kind strangers of which there are still many. 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—on the way from Point A to Point B.”
- Kelly Barth, author of My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus
“This is a book of gratitude of the highest order. Stewart, a 54-year-old woman riding alone on a high-strung, sure-footed horse across the gravel grid of rural America, is grateful each night for a place to pitch a tent and pasture her horse. But 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 Stewarts’, 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