UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM

A passion for history and horses results in a major book donation

By RANDALL HOLCOMBE

David Dorondo was just hoping to receive a compli-mentary book to use for reference in teaching his innovative new course, “The Horse in European History,” when he ran across the website of The Long Riders’ Guild and e-mailed the founder of that international organization of equestrian explorers. What the WCU associate professor of history received from Kentucky resident CuChullaine O’Reilly was several texts to use in his course, plus an entire collection of rare horse-related books for WCU’s Hunter Library.

“In my conversations with Mr. O’Reilly, I soon learned that The Long Riders’ Guild Press is arguably the most important U.S. publisher and reprinter of books dealing with equine exploration, history, travel and literature,” Dorondo said. “In Mr. O’Reilly, I also found an enthusiastic supporter of my efforts to build resources for my course. His support, in turn, soon manifested itself in an exceedingly generous offer to donate to the university’s Hunter Library 100 volumes of my choosing.”

David Dorondo teaches a unique course on the role of the
horse in civilization, which led to a contribution of history books.

Dorondo developed loves of history and horses growing up in Savannah, Ga., and he combined those passions in teaching the course, which he believes to be the only one of its kind in the nation. After leading about 20 students through “The Horse in European History” in summer 2009, Dorondo began working on a list of 100 volumes for the library’s new collection, eventually paring a massive list of prospective titles to 102 books. O’Reilly waived all profits and royalties from the books and also contacted Lightning Source, an on-demand printing firm and an Ingram Content Group company located in La Vergne, Tenn., which agreed to donate costs associated with printing the books and delivering them to the university.

“The donation came about upon my instigation because I believed Professor Dorondo had undertaken an unprecedented step in modern equestrian education,” O’Reilly said. The books are, he said, a “treasure trove containing mankind’s equestrian wisdom and literary history.”

Dorondo said the collection, which arrived at the university early this year, would have a market value of many thousands of dollars and is likely unmatched in university libraries across the nation. “Given the strained budgetary situation, the guild’s willingness to make such a generous donation means a great deal,” he said. “The fact that so many of these titles would long ago have disappeared from circulation without the guild’s efforts to reprint them only enhances the donation’s value.”

The books are mostly 19th- and 20th-century works and range from a volume for children to some written in foreign languages, but they represent the gamut of equine-related literature that is the specialty of The Long Riders’ Guild Press, Dorondo said.