In 2012, Lisa Stewart rode 500 miles, alone, on her horse through Kansas and Missouri to fulfill a childhood dream. Lisa will speak about her notetaking and communications on the trip and how she handled writing about the love and kindness she encountered without sounding saccharine or appearing to promote a message. She will speak about why and how she made such a trip, the nature of horses, what she personally gained from the experience, and what she hopes others will learn about the beauty and kindness of the world.
2021 Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award for books published by Kansas City area writers
2021 High Plains Book Award Finalist
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.
“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
A unique and inherently fascinating memoir, "The Big Quiet: One Woman's Horseback Ride Home" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to both community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated horse lovers and dedicated travelogue fans that "The Big Quiet: One Woman's Horseback Ride Home" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
—Helen Dumont, Reviewer, Midwest Book Review