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In the late summer of 2017 Cathleen Leonard set off on an epic adventure to realise a childhood dream. Taking her rescued draught horse, Taliesin, and her wolfdog, Spirit, she travelled over 1,000 miles from Durness in the northwest of Scotland back to her home in Cornwall. This is the story of one woman’s journey of self-discovery, courage, determination, and encounters with the better side of human nature.
Cathleen was born near London to an American mother and an Irish father. Although she grew up in urban landscapes, she always had a love for nature and the outdoors. Many long hours of her childhood were spent befriending horses in the fields near to where she lived and day-dreaming about one day travelling the world on horseback.
Following several failed attempts and many disheartening setbacks, Cathleen finally realised her dream in 2017 when she took her rescued French draught horse, Taliesin, and her faithful wolfdog, Spirit, to the northwestern most point in Scotland and embarked on a nine week long, 1,000 mile solo journey back to her home in Cornwall. Her first book Before Winter Comes gives a detailed account of this journey from one end of Britain to the other.
Just eight months later, she embarked on another 1,000 mile long journey on horseback. This time she travelled with her partner, Vlad, and her two other rescued horses, Oisín and Dakota. They rode from Cornwall to Wales, and then all across Ireland from Mizen Head to Malin Head gathering folk tales and fiddle tunes along the way. Halfway across Ireland they acquired a small but opinionated one-eyed mule. Her second book, Fiddler on the Hoof is the story of this journey.
Music, myths, folklore, and her love of nature and wild landscapes infuse Cathleen’s books, which give an open and honest account of horseback travel in the modern world, whilst providing a reassuring insight into the kindness, hospitality, and generosity of people met along the way. Her love for her four-legged companions shines through her work, and her animals are characters in their own right on the journeys, not just a mode of transport and a means to an end.
As well as her love for horses, Cathleen is also an accomplished fiddle player. She spent several years performing with folk rock band, Love Street; recording in world famous studios, working with award-winning producers, headlining festivals, and touring around Europe. She has also gigged and recorded with renowned singer/songwriter Tony Hazzard.