Magazine article Geographical

Travel for a Living: Simon Casson Is a Founding Partner of Horseback Expedition Company Outlaw Trails. Garth Cripps Talks to Him about Life in the Saddle and His Passion for the US Old West

Magazine article Geographical

Travel for a Living: Simon Casson Is a Founding Partner of Horseback Expedition Company Outlaw Trails. Garth Cripps Talks to Him about Life in the Saddle and His Passion for the US Old West

Article excerpt

You've recently written a book about riding 3,000 kilometres across the western USA. What drove you to do it?

I had long been fascinated by the adventures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--I'd read the books, seen the movies, bought the T-shirts, and it wasn't enough. I had to visit the scenes of their exploits, explore the terrain, experience the hardships and some of the hazards, absorb the culture and the local folk memories. I wanted to get a strong, first-hand feel for the outlaw life. My partner Richard Adamson's special forces experience and expertise in tough travel and hard living were crucial. Initially, his objective was simply to have 'one last adventure'. He got that in spades, but to his surprise, and my own, he was also bitten by the outlaw bug.

What was the hardest aspect of the trip?

It was that the horses had to share the hardships and hazards. There's still a lot of desperate country between Mexico and Canada. Riding unsupported dramatically increases the pressures--you're battling on a daily basis, worrying about route, terrain, climatic extremes, resupply, water, grazing, horsefeed, shoeing, and sometimes just where the hell you are

How much did the local people help you?

The local folks were crucial to our survival. With a couple of conspicuous exceptions, they were warm, welcoming and helpful beyond belief--the old hospitality code of the West survives in good order. But the benefits aren't entirely one sided. Ranching isn't what it was a century ago--reduced stocking rates, decreasing land adoption and higher operating costs continually squeeze profits and make it ever harder. High-grade tourists such as ours provide the same useful supplementary spin off for traditional ranching that they do for some of our British stately homes.

What were your favourite moments?

I really enjoyed riding into the old hideouts and tracking through really remote areas that are only accessible on horseback. It was very exciting knowing we were among the few people who have explored these places. It was also rewarding to spend time with old generation families and to hear their stories.

What were your most surprising discoveries?

The first thing was that Butch and Sundance weren't only the fun-loving, high spending adventurers of legend. …

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