2017 - News!
Extraordinary Film Documents Wagon Journey from Canada to Mexico
Saint Augustine is supposed to have said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Few people have heeded Saint Augustine’s advice with as much devotion as American Long Rider Bernie Harberts, for he has read the world and delivered a tale such as few have done.
After sailing around the world alone, Bernie rode “ocean to ocean” across the United States. Then he set out on a remarkable journey in search of the “lost sea” that once covered America’s Great Plains. What he found was a nation awash with contradictory beliefs, a people longing for emotional stability, and an environment facing catastrophic changes.
Plenty of people make trips which result in the creation of DDD, 'dreary daily diaries,' written by people who travel far but have say little of value to say afterwards. Bernie Harberts isn’t one of those and the documentary film he made is worthy of attention for a wide variety of reasons.
It's certainly true that the film relates how Bernie travelled 2,500 miles alone in a tiny wagon from Neptune, Saskatchewan to Fort Hancock, Texas. But this story is about a lot more than a man, a mule and a wagon.
Hollywood typically depicts the “Old West” as being populated by buffalo and long horn cattle. Yet Bernie met various people, including a paleontologist, a rancher and a Native American who showed him dinosaur fossils they had discovered in different states where the Lost Sea had once been.
On a superficial level it's easy to sit back, watch the pretty landscape, enjoy seeing the antics of Polly the mule, wonder at the colourful people Bernie meets and take in the sights second hand.
What sets this story apart from the vast majority of equestrian travel tales is its maturity. This is a documentary film that is different because there are important emotional, social, cultural, religious, political and spiritual threads interwoven into the tale.
The American states Bernie travelled through have traditionally been associated with hardy pioneers, resilient ranchers and enduring farmers. Yet Bernie discovered that large portions of the interior of the USA are becoming increasingly depopulated.
He filmed a house buried by tumbleweeds. He witnessed small towns dying. He spoke to lonely survivors. And he documented how the country’s most vital water supply, the Ogallala Aquifer, is being emptied by aggressive industrial-sized agricultural practices that are draining away the nation’s underground water at an alarming rate.
The editor of a small Kansas newspaper asked Bernie, “Will the water run out before the population runs out?”
The landscape may still be magnificent but what this film also shows is the shocking de-population of the interior of America.
During an in-depth Question & Answer interview with the Guild, Bernie discussed his journey, the film he made single-handed, and the unexpected discoveries he made along the way.
What is revealed is the story of a man who represents the ideals that once defined America around the world: principles not profits, integrity not ego, truth not deception, personal courage not ethical cowardice.
Bernie Harberts may be an American Long Rider but his story has a global message and this documentary presents an authentic view of the country - culturally, spiritually and environmentally.
Looking for an Adventure in Argentina?
First German Long Rider Roland Berg travelled through Europe by making three journeys that took him through Germany, France, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Then he decided to explore the Andes Mountains in Patagonia.
Once again he rode thousands of miles during several journeys through the mountains that run along the border of Argentina and Chile. Roland and his horses, Trueno and Jefe, are seen crossing Tres Picos, one of the Andes Mountains. The dormant volcano, Lanin, can be seen in the distance.
While his Argentine horses enjoy a “winter holiday,” Roland is seeking a companion for his next journey.
“In October I will ride in Patagonia, following the Andes north. I will avoid roads and be travelling along trails in remote parts of the mountains. Piling on the miles or reaching a particular goal are not important. What's important is the way of living in nature and in freedom with our horses."
Anyone interested in joining Roland on his next equestrian expedition is invited to contact him at his website. www.weitreiter.de
Exploring Siberia’s Equestrian Culture
Yakutia, a vast, sparsely-populated part of Siberia contains, the infamous “Pole of Cold.” The coldest temperature in the northern hemisphere was recorded there, a bone-breaking minus 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thus when people think of Siberia the word “horse” does not automatically come to mind. Yet an ancient equine symbol appears on the newly minted coins for the region (right). Why?
Because Yakutia is home to the world’s most astonishing equestrian culture, a place where horses learned to survive by entering into a state of semi-hibernation and humans routinely ride in minus 50 degree weather.
New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson is the first foreign equestrian explorer to venture into Yakutia in 125 years. His remarkable “Story from the Road” provides an eyewitness account that reveals how he rode through a landscape so vast and uninhabited that he did not see another human being for seventeen days.
But this is not only a tale of survival. Ian returned with evidence of an
incredible equestrian culture that rides horses which defies belief.
Horse Travel Handbook described as “A New Classic”
“For thousands of years we have travelled on horseback but until now no one has shown us the way.”
The Horse Travel Handbook is a cavalry-style manual drawn from its parent edition The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration. It is small enough to fit into a saddlebag and contains the most critically important information that a Long Rider may need to consult while travelling.
The concise, easy-to-use book covers every aspect needed to successfully complete a journey by horse, including how to organize the trip, plan a route, choose the proper equipment and purchase horses.
Traditional challenges such as loading a pack saddle, avoiding dangerous animals, fording rivers and outwitting horse thieves are covered here along with ingenious solutions to modern dilemmas like crossing international borders, surviving vehicle traffic and negotiating with hostile bureaucrats. This handbook covers all aspects of equine welfare including feeding, watering, saddling and health care. Technical details such as daily travel distance, where to locate nightly shelter and ways to avoid cultural conflicts are among the hundreds of specific topics examined.
Equestrian explorers have special linguistic needs. Vital words such as hay and farrier are not found in standard phrase-books. A special appendix contains the Equestionary that provides images of objects and situations most likely to be of use when language is a barrier.
Created after decades of study by CuChullaine O’Reilly, Founder of the Long Riders' Guild, this comprehensive book is filled with the indispensable knowledge needed to resolve problems, overcome hardships and avoid dangers while travelling. Just as importantly, it empowers readers to turn their dream into a life-changing equestrian journey.
The Foreword was written by Colonel John Blashford-Snell (right), who founded the Scientific Exploration Society and was awarded the Patron's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. He is seen riding in Mongolia in 2013.
Reviews from Long Riders and readers have praised the book, which has been described as “the Long Rider’s Bible.” Others have stated that the Handbook “is a MUST READ for anyone even considering a long ride.”
The Horse Travel Handbook is the Holy Grail for Long Riders.
CuChullaine has somehow, through years of research, communication with equine travellers, and his own personal experience as a Long Rider, managed to consolidate into one book the vast amount of knowledge and experience required to begin preparations for any person interested in the rare, challenging lifestyle that is that of the Long Rider. Read more...
Australian Long Rider Kimberley Delavere is riding solo along the Bicentennial National Trail.
The Horse Travel Handbook is written for all modern Long Riders worldwide.
It is quite extraordinary in the global range and depth of its practical content and advice, and in its sense of ethic, its vision and its passion. It is written for those planning their first journey and those already highly experienced. Read more...…
William Reddaway and his horse Strider completed the first modern equestrian journey to thirty of Great Britain’s historic cathedrals and abbeys.
Twelve Years in the Saddle
With 28,000 miles and 12 years of equestrian travel experience, I say The Horse Travel Handbook is a must read. Read more...
American Long Rider Bernice Ende
The Most Important Equestrian Travel Book Since Tschiffely’s Ride
The Horse Travel Handbook is more than useful - it's just totally absorbing! It is written with eloquence, passion and extraordinary attention to detail and the wisdom of experience shines through every page. This book will be as much of a landmark in equestrian travel history as Tschiffely's Ride.
Paula Sells is the author of “The British Tack Room.
I can't recommend the Horse Travel Handbook highly enough!
What a remarkable, knowledgeable and convenient resource for anyone wishing to undertake equestrian travel. Read more...
Australian Long Rider Danny Phegan rode from Darwin, Northern Territory to Cockle Creek Bay, Tasmania.
3,500-mile Long Rider Endorses CuChullaine O'Reilly's The Horse Travel
|The Guild would like to welcome Christina Puszkar as a Member. Christina is one of the first people to undertake an extensive equestrian journey along the newly created Greater Patagonian Trail which “leads you right through the heart of the legendary Patagonian Andes”. Riding her Criollo, Fiestero, Christina found that the GPT challenges the skills of a Long Rider but presents rare opportunities. “The route offers unique views of the Chilean Cordillera,” she wrote, “and lets you get an authentic glimpse of the lifestyle of the Chilean arriero, a person who transports goods using pack animals.” Being the first Member of the Guild to ride along the GPT, Christina expressed her opinion that the trail presents exciting new possibilities for Long Riders. “In general I would recommend the route for fit, self reliant and competent horse people.” The Guild encourages the further exploration of this new trail and will provide additional information as it becomes available.|
Exploration Allies Plan Interplanetary Journey – Guild Flag to Accompany Mission to Mars
The Long Riders’ Guild is accustomed to courage because equestrian travel history is filled with examples of horses and humans who undertook extraordinary journeys. For example, in 1908 Sir Ernest Shackleton nearly reached the South Pole with the help of his Manchurian horse, Socks.
Yet possessing bravery is no protection against envy, cynicism and cowardice. Equestrian explorers have been routinely denounced prior to departure. Though Swiss Long Rider Aimé Tschiffely is a revered hero today, when he began his ride from Buenos Aires to New York in 1925 he was taunted and ridiculed.
The morning he was scheduled to leave
rain was falling and the roads leading out of Buenos Aires were already
hock-deep in thick, sticky mud. The reporters regarded the whole thing as a
huge joke: "A lunatic proposing to travel overland to New York," - ran one
That's what two "space explorers" are doing - tasting the salt of life.
Tom and Tina Sjogren are the adventurous rebels who climbed Mt. Everest, explored the oceans in a sailboat, travelled to both poles and founded Explorer’s Web, the planet’s premier source for exploration news.
But having looked down from Earth’s tallest mountain, the Sjogrens are now looking up to Mars. An extensive article details how they are building a two-person space vehicle capable of making the 34 million mile journey. Their intention is to explore the red planet and return to Earth with news of their discoveries.
Once again it is history that provides an example of an iconoclast who dared to challenge convention. In 1607 Henry Hudson attempted to find a northerly route to Asia when he set sail in a small ship with a crew of only eleven. Hudson’s attempt to reach China via a Northwest Passage was halted by impenetrable ice but his later explorations made him a legend.
The forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration contains nearly a thousand images, the last of which is entitled “Aime Tschiffely Rides to the Stars.” This image (top) symbolizes the possibility that horses and humans may one day travel together beyond earth’s gravity.
This planet is crammed with forgettable people who lack the passion and fearlessness to do one significant thing with their lives. Tom and Tina Sjogren aren’t like that. They’re the emotional offspring of Henry Hudson, Ernest Shackleton and Aimé Tschiffely. They dare to dream to ride beyond our planet.
That is why they have been named “Friends of the Guild” in honour of their courage and in recognition of their intergalactic vision.
It is one thing to publish a news article confirming their valour but it is something different to provide proof of the Guild’s tangible support.
Count Pompeii is the flying logo which adorns the Guild's flag and is seen along the spine of all the LRG books. New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson (right) is the first foreign Long Rider to ride through Siberia in 125 years. Because of the historical nature of that ride, Ian carried the Guild flag on that journey.
While we appreciate the fact that reducing weight is of essential importance on a mission to Mars, we offered the Siberian Guild flag to accompany the Sjogrens to Mars.
“We are deeply honoured to have the support of the world's most courageous horsemen. How can we not succeed? Let's show the kids a different world. Let's give them hope. We will bring the Guild flag and fly it on Mars,” Tina Sjogren (right) stated.
21 Tips on How to Buy a Horse Anywhere in the World
Former generations of horse travellers took the basis of their equestrian knowledge for granted. For centuries they passed on wisdom in an oral tradition, never foreseeing the day when horses would be replaced as the primary mode of transportation.
The result was the loss of humanity’s collective equestrian travel wisdom. A treasure trove representing more than 6,000 years of cumulative human-horse travel experience was lost in less than 100 years due to global apathy. Thus as the 20th century came to a conclusion mankind knew more about the surface of the moon than it did about the once-vital topic of horse travel.
This decrease in knowledge had a direct effect upon equestrian travel. Fewer people departed on journeys. Those who swung into the saddle made mistakes and struggled hard to gain every mile.
But a new generation of Long Riders, one that has access to more information than the Founding Members of the Guild collectively knew, is ensuring that equestrian travel will be preserved for posterity.
In the few months since its release the Horse Travel Handbook has already begun to exert a strong influence. Young people are not only reading the book prior to their departure, they have also been inspired to make new strides in equestrian travel education.
One such brilliant example is the article composed by equestrian traveller Stevie Anna c, which was originally published on her blog Patagone. Prior to departing on a solo ride across Argentina, she read the Horse Travel Handbook and sought advice from experienced Long Riders.
Having spent months trying to locate and purchase horses fit for travel, Stevie Anna had learned how difficult that task was. Deception on the part of the sellers was common. Inappropriate or unhealthy horses were all too often offered to the novice Long Rider. Patience and determination were essential.
After she finally located two good, strong, healthy horses, Stevie Anna realized that her struggle to learn this essential element of equestrian travel education had a wider application. As she correctly pointed out, would-be travellers from "Texas or Tahiti" have to buy horses.
Armed with her hard-won knowledge, Stevie Anna composed a “Story from the Road” entitled 21 Rules for Buying a Horse. As she clearly warns, this is a process which is filled with deception. Yet the 21 tips she provides a) make perfect sense b) are backed by excellent evidence and c) are written in such clear English that any of the many foreign readers who visit the Guild website can easily understand what she is advising them to do.
Equestrian travel remained stagnant for decades. But suddenly there is an
explosion of new ideas, and they are being created and shared by members of
a younger generation of equestrian travel. The Guild is proud to share
Stevie Anna’s new-found discoveries with other members of the international
equestrian travel community.
Long Rider Discovers Defence Against Deadly Horse Attack
The vast majority of people do not view horses as being potentially dangerous. They adhere to a common belief that horses are "prey animals" who "mean you no harm." According to this misdiagnosis of equine behaviour, horses have only one response to danger, to flee.
Previous generations of Long Riders knew that horses were potentially deadly. This seldom understood part of the horse’s nature hasn’t disappeared and Long Riders have encountered aggressive equines in a variety of countries. Bill Holt in France, Jane Dotchin in England, Temple Abernathy in America, Mefo Phillips in Spain, Henry Savage Landor in Tibet and Bonnie Folkins in Mongolia, all endured aggressive attacks by equines.
The combination of agility, strength, speed, deadly kicks and meat-ripping teeth allows a horse to inflict terrible wounds or kill his opponent with relative ease should he feel the need to defend himself.
Luckily American Long Rider Samantha Szesciorka realized that a common household item could be turned into a potent weapon for self-defence when confronted by dangerous horses. This observation came about while Samantha was making an extensive journey in Nevada, which is home to more wild horses that any other state.
Samantha and her horse, Sage, found themselves either being inspected by curious mustangs or fending off attacks by aggressive wild stallions. The number of horses who fearlessly approached Samantha included small groups of two or three horses. But one notable exception occurred when a herd of fifty wild horses boldly galloped up and entered the Long Rider’s camp.
“I suspect no one has been attacked by wild horses more than me!”
Having endured multiple encounters with wild horses, Samantha gave serious thought to how she might protect herself and Sage from curious or aggressive equines. A special report explains how Samantha’s eyewitness experiences resulted in the creation of a simple, inexpensive, and effective invention that can work anywhere and will save Long Rider lives.
Long Rider Safety in the 21st Century
In 2013 the worst accident in the history of modern equestrian travel took the life of a female Long Rider, left her companion seriously wounded and gravely injured their horses. English Long Rider Christine Henchie, 29, was killed instantly by an out-of-control bus in Tanzania. Her fiancé, South African Long Rider Billy Brenchley, 43, escaped death by inches but suffered a broken leg.
When informed of Christy’s death, New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson shared this thought.
“I think what is going through the mind of every Long Rider who hears this news is the same for all of us ‘That could have been me.’ We have all had at least one brush along the road with reckless, careless or downright insane drivers.”
What is under discussion is not an avoidable danger, like jungles or mountains. Nor will it take you by surprise, such as an attack by animals or bandits. Traffic, in one form or another, tests every Long Rider.
That is why Meredith Cherry (right) devoted so much time and effort to locate and obtain a set of equipment which would dramatically improve the margin of safety for her and her horse, Apollo.
Meredith is the first woman to attempt to ride to the 48 states in the continental USA. She spent two years carefully preparing her route and studying equestrian travel history. In addition she sought advice from Long Rider Lisa Stewart, who has made two journeys in the USA.
The result of Meredith’s research is a set of equipment that makes the Long Rider and Road Horse highly visible to drivers. In a special Story from the Road, Meredith provides photographs which show the equipment that is keeping her and Apollo safe during their 10,000 mile journey.
Many Long Riders have used the waterproof Ortlieb saddlebags. Yet if not placed properly, the bags ride too low and may injure the road horse. German Long Rider Sabine Keller provides answers and photos on how to resolve this technical problem.
Historian Documents how Horses were transported by Submarines during the First World War
It was known as the “Great War,” a global battle, lasting from 1914 to 1918, that killed nine million combatants. The conflict is usually associated with trench warfare, a tactic used before the launch of the Battle of the Somme, in which more than a million men were killed or wounded. Nor was the war restricted to the land, as the Battle of Jutland saw 250 British and German ships fight to the death.
What has escaped the attention of historians until now is that an astonishing episode in equestrian history occurred in 1915. In an article entitled Horses in Submarines: A Transportation Nightmare, Raul Colon reveals how First Lord of the British Admiralty, Winston Churchill, conceived a secret plan to transport horses from England to Turkey – via submarines.
Pocket Typewriter linked to Long Riders
At first glance one may wonder how qualified were the two young men who set off from a Texas border town bound for Mexico City in 1931.
Joseph Goodwin was a Yankee with an itchy foot and a taste for peril. His companion, Robert Horiguichi, was the sophisticated, multi-lingual son of an imperial Japanese diplomat. To say these two mismatched friends were unprepared for the deserts, quicksand and brigands they encountered in the Mexican wilderness would be a mild understatement. In one particularly harrowing episode, they were surrounded, shot, and nearly kidnapped by an armed band of Mexican bandits.
Goodwin’s book, Through Mexico on Horseback, recounts how before leaving Texas the amateur adventurers had procured what they believed were all the necessities for equestrian explorers, including “a canteen, an old pistol, and a typewriter to chronicle our escapades.”
The idea that Goodwin and Horiguichi, who had both just graduated with journalism degrees in America, could carry a typewriter in a saddlebag has always seemed unlikely, even fanciful.
Yet thanks to new information uncovered by Kris de Decker, editor of Low Tech magazine, Goodwin’s claim to have filed stories from the saddle now appears to be based on forgotten facts. A pocket typewriter (right), known as the vyrotyp, “was introduced in 1914 for use in the trenches on the battlefield or on horseback.”
Ride Begins to 48 American States
In 1912, four men embarked on a 20,000 mile cross-country through the United States. That group, known as the Overland Westerners, spent three years riding to 48 state capitals. Frank Heath was the next person to attempt this difficult journey. Departing in 1925, his 11,000 mile route took him to each of the continental states.
Meredith Cherry (right) is the first woman to attempt to ride the challenging 48 state route.
Starting in California, Meredith’s projected three year journey is designed to raise awareness about domestic violence. On her website, Meredith explains, “This silent epidemic is extremely prevalent in our society. Although it is not often talked about, it is estimated that 1 in 3 women will be domestic violence victims at some point in their lives.”
Long Riders and their road horses share a tremendous emotional bond. Our horses give us love, provide their labour, and sometimes save our lives. To symbolize the duality of horse and human, Meredith has chosen to call her journey the Centauride and to use an image of a female centaur to promote the idea that humanity has matured and that this new symbol of hope can guide us into the future.
First Modern Equestrian Expedition in Siberia
Baron Yasumasa Fukushima, the descendant of a noble Samurai family, was sent to Berlin, Germany on military duty in 1892. When the time came to return home, the Japanese horseman elected to ride his horse Gaisen, (Triumphant Return) 14,000 kilometres (9,000 miles) from Berlin to Tokyo, Japan.
No foreign Long Rider is believed to have made a solo equestrian journey in Siberia in the subsequent 125 years. New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson (right) previously made solo journeys in Mongolia, Tibet and Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. He has now become the first foreign Long Rider to explore the Yakutia region of Siberia on horseback in this new century.
A detailed report of this important expedition is now being prepared and will be published by the Guild.
Journey in New Guinea to promote Pony Library Programme
Indonesian Long Rider Nirwan Asuka (right) carried the LRG flag during his ride in New Guinea. Having previously completed the Equine Equator Expedition in Indonesia, Nirwan used his love of horse travel to create a unique literary educational programme.
Using local ponies, Nirwan created a network of mobile libraries that provides books to underprivileged children.
With several “pony libraries” already functioning in Indonesia, Nirwan took his horse, Si Kutub Dunia, to New Guinea. Because of the rarity of horses in that country, local children expressed joy and astonishment when the “library pony” visited their school.
“Si Kutub Dunia created a sensation here because most people in this region have never seen a horse in their whole life. They always insist on having a photo with the pony, not the rider. Some people even shed tears when they touched the pony,” Nirwan wrote to the Guild.
Pilgrimage to Visit Historic Horses - Long Rider Proves Dreams Do Come True
On July 8, 2012, Filipe Masetti Leite, embarked upon one of the most challenging equestrian journeys of the early 21st Century. Having been inspired by Aime Tschiffely, Filipe set off to ride through 12 countries in North, Central and South America – starting in Canada and ending at his home in Brazil two years later.
After spending time with his family, Filipe departed on a second journey, one that would take him to the “end of the world” in Patagonia. Having ridden across Brazil and Uruguay, Filipe has now entered Argentina. Soon after his arrival he made a special pilgrimage to the museum in Lujon which houses the remains of Tschiffely’s horses, Gato and Mancha.
Having narrowly avoided being hit by aggressive truck drivers in Brazil and overcome serious restrictions at the border of Uruguay, Filipe’s blog explains how he is now making his way across the sparsely populated portion of northern Argentina.
Long Rider Pioneers Trail Commemorating Great Britain’s Equestrian Past
Vyv Wood-Gee concluded a unique ride designed to create a route that connects eight white horses carved into the country’s hillsides.
Starting at the Mormond white horse near Fraserburgh, Scotland, the Horseland Journey stretches 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) journey to the white horse at Uffington.
Proving that dreams don’t have an expiration date, Vyv stated, “Since the Uffington white horse was carved by our ancestors 3000 years ago, it has tantalised and fascinated. Both the Uffington horse and its relatives symbolise the cultural importance of the horse in the UK. I first visited the Uffington white horse over 30 years ago and vowed that I'd return one day on horseback.”
The juxtaposition of Vyv’s sturdy black Fell ponies, Mikado and Magic, riding between the enigmatic white horses carved into Britain's hillsides added to the journey’s appeal.
Aggressive Polish Police Halt Equestrian Journey
In 2015 Dalibor Balut (right) made the first modern journey in the Czech Republic. This was a 1,000 mile circular journey that took him and his mare, Sheila, from the front door of his cabin deep in the woods, around the entire country, and then back home. Having had such a wonderful time, this year Dalibor set his sights further afield. He and Sheila set off to ride from the Czech Republic to Lithuania, where they were expecting a warm welcome from the strong Lithuanian Long Rider community.
They never made it.
Dalibor and Sheila rode north, crossed into Poland and had barely begun riding through that country, when he was stopped by police. They ordered him to leave the country. All of his, and the horse's, papers were in order. He had not broken any laws. And no one at the Polish border had warned Dalibor about potential trouble.
Nevertheless, he was ordered to turn around, and go home, or go to jail. Thus his journey north was halted by government antagonism. Undeterred, Dalibor rode south though the Slovak Republic and Austria before concluding his ride.
“The journey was amazing. I visited many museums, saw archaeological sites and rode through beautiful country.”
Even if you don't speak Czech, you will find the film Dalibor made about this journey ("CESTA K BALTSKEMU MORI" to be visually lovely and filled with beautiful music.
Long Riders Protect Endangered European Equestrian Heritage
In 2012 the Long Riders’ Guild joined forces with the German based VFD to encourage travelling with horses throughout Europe. The historic “Charter of Rights” created by the two organisations demonstrated how horse-humans from various parts of Europe had transcended the narrow definitions of "nationalism" and had joined forces to protect mankind's precious equestrian heritage.
Unfortunately in the years that followed the freedom to travel by horse in Europe has come under serious threat and equestrian travellers have encountered growing hostility. Lithuanian Long Rider Vaidotas Digaitis’ journey to Japan was halted in Russia. Czech Long Rider Dalibor Balut was threatened with arrest in Poland. Dutch Long Rider Michel Jacobs encountered serious difficulties at several European borders.
In an effort to diminish governmental opposition, two experienced equestrian travellers have announced plans to undertake a journey designed to encourage Europeans to protect their endangered equestrian heritage.
Swiss Long Rider Peter van der Gugten and German Long Rider David Wewetzer are planning to ride 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) from Athens, Greece to Kassel, Germany.
Despite the fact that more than 10,000 people signed the Charter to encourage equestrian travel in Europe, David Wewetzer explained, “Sadly we are far away from the ideals of free travelling with horses which we have discussed, when we worked together on the Rekener Charta back in 2012.”
The Athens-Kessel Trail Ride encourages Europeans to preserve their equestrian liberty.
Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail – Twice!
Most people would be satisfied if they rode the length of the Pacific Crest Trail once. Not so American Long Rider Gillian Larson (right) who completed her second journey along the challenging route.
The southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, just south of Campo, California. It stretches 4,279 kilometres (2,659 miles) through California, Oregon and Washington before concluding at its northern terminus on the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. With ranges in elevation from just above sea level to 13,153 feet, the route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.
Gillian’s website provides a treasure-trove of photos and valuable information about the journey she and her mare, Shyla have made. Even more important, in terms of equestrian travel, Gillian was motivated to make the second journey so as to gather critically important information for a guide book she is writing about how to ride along the PCT.
“I learned a lot on my first journey, and I hope to put that knowledge to good use on this next ride. Once again, Shyla will be my main riding horse, while her son Takoda takes on the packing duties,” Gillian wrote.
Meanwhile, prior to her departure, Gillian wrote a special “how to” article” for the Guild. It explains the difficulties encountered by Long Riders who travel on this popular trail.
Equestrian Apprentice Sought in Peru
The Long Riders’ Guild receives messages from all parts of the world. People write to seek advice, to share their plans or to establish contact with members of the international equestrian travel community.
For example, one person recently wrote to say that she had ridden in Iceland, China and Crete. The inspiration for her journeys, she explained, had been derived from reading the Long Riders’ Guild website. She wrote to say, "Since early childhood I have dreamed about long horse treks, being inspired from the Long Riders Guild."
Thanks to the far-sighted vision of a unique horseman, a new type of equestrian opportunity has been created, one that would allow a young person to participate in a unique apprenticeship amidst the legendary equestrian culture of Peru.
Not many people can truthfully claim that they have helped save a nation’s equestrian heritage, customs and horses from becoming extinct. Eduard van Brunschott is such a rare individual.
As the 20th century came to a close, Peru’s famous Paso pacing horses, as well as the traditional training methods used for centuries, were both in peril of either being forgotten or allowed to disappear. “Eddy” launched an effort to rescue the nation’s horses, their equipment, and traditions from an uncertain future.
His initial effort began in the 1990s when he established an equestrian tour business known as Perol Chico. Eddy used Peruvian Pasos to carry the visitors who soon began arriving at his hacienda from around the world. In addition, he employed Peruvian horsemen, who kept alive the nation’s traditional equestrian skills. Finally, in an effort to protect indigenous history, Eddy made sure to take his mounted guests along the trails which the Inca had travelled on.
Horses and equipment, trails and tradition; Eduard van Brunschott made it his life mission to guarantee that Peru’s unique contribution to horse-human history would never again be threatened.
But this was no mere money-making enterprise. As the concept of equestrian tourism began to spread, some people had no hesitation in employing underfed or ill horses. Not Eddy. His horses were always in beautiful condition and were a picture of pride to Peru.
His vision extended beyond his own nation and helped influence events further afield. When the Long Riders’ Guild began to form its strict code of equestrian ethics, Eddy was one of those we consulted. That code, which is now used by Long Riders around the world, had its origins in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
In the intervening years Eddy has worked hard to preserve Peru's equestrian heritage. He recently contacted the Guild and explained that he is interested in ensuring that this rare and valuable knowledge is preserved for posterity.
“Through the Long Riders Guild we think we can reach serious horse people who are motivated to learn and be part of our real life with horses."
Eddy went on to explain his idea of a unique equestrian apprenticeship.
“I am writing because I would like to propose an opportunity for younger people to learn more about high mountain equestrian travel. I would like to share my experiences and knowledge with younger people who are planning a long ride. We have a nice guest house here at the ranch where they can stay. We will teach them to trim and shoe a horse, how to condition and train a horse for high altitude rides, how to read the trails and all the fine details about limitations and the technical aspects of high mountain trail riding. In exchange we want them to help us with our horses and the commercial rides for at least a three-month period. Sort of a win-win proposal,”
What Eddy has in mind is a good system that helps the local economy, keeps alive local traditions, educates young travellers, which protects the horses, and helps a local company grow stronger. For more information about this unique proposal, contact Mr. van Brunschott at Perol Chico.
Homeless Equestrian Traveller Arrested in Florida
Divorce, financial hardship and an automobile accident had caused life to go bad for Chris Emerson (right). So he saddled his aged horse, Trigger, rode out of Greenwood, South Carolina and headed south towards what he hoped would be a new start in Key West, Florida.
The ill-prepared traveller never made it.
Having run out of money, Emerson depended upon handouts and charity to survive. He lost one shoe while sleeping in a storm culvert and decided thereafter to go barefoot.
But it was the condition of his horse that resulted in Emerson’s arrest. The duo had travelled more than 700 miles, by which time they had reached Miami, Florida. As Emerson approached the city, people began to call the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to register their concerns about the condition of the horse.
Kathleen Monahan, the SPCA’s local president, said the non-profit was receiving calls as Emerson made his way south. “People who know about horses said the animal looked thin and started sending photos to us.”
When Miami-Dade police arrested Emerson, he was charged with two offences: animal cruelty and violating an animal’s health requirement.
Laurie Waggoner, who runs a rescue stable for the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the press. “The horse’s back is very, very sore. If you touch anywhere on his back, the horse quivers and backs away and tries to bite you. You can see all of his ribs.”
She told a local newspaper that a horse this size needs about 25 pounds of hay and a sizeable quality of grain per day. In contrast, officials say Emerson had tied two plastic bags, stuffed with lawn trimmings, to his saddle. Emerson, who planned to feed the cut grass to the horse, was unaware that cut grass can cause severe colic in a horse.
Dr Zachary Franklin, the vet who examined Trigger, doesn’t have a problem riding a horse on a long distance journey. But he does object to a person not caring or feeding the horse correctly. “A horse can easily be ridden from South Carolina to the Florida Keys as long as they’re fed properly and in good condition. “
Trigger was found by Dr Franklin to be severely underweight with sores in his mouth.
The veterinarian warned, “Don’t ride a horse that’s in this condition.”
Meanwhile, Trigger was taken to a farmhouse where he is expected to remain for several months while recovering.
Colorado Toughens Equestrian Travel Laws
The days of riding the open range are a thing of the past. Stricter legislation in various American states requires Long Riders to study local laws before setting off on a journey.
Colorado, for example, has issued a bulletin that warns travellers to be aware of the following:
You must have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued by an accredited veterinarian 30 days prior to entry into Colorado. Include the physical address of the horse in your state and the location where the horse will be in Colorado.
A negative equine infectious anaemia test is required 12 months prior to entry. Date of the test, results, the lab and the accession number must be listed on the veterinary inspection form.
Horses are required to have a brand inspection when transported over 75 miles totally within the boundaries of Colorado, and every time they leave the state.
Hay, straw and mulch must be certified as "weed free." Only the following products are allowed on national forests in Colorado: cubed and pelletized hay, steamed grain, treated/steamed mulch from tree fibers.
Restrictions on horse travel in wilderness areas are often greater than in other areas. Be sure to read notices at trailheads. Many wilderness areas carry maximum group size limits, which regulate the number of livestock and people that are allowed to travel together.
Long Rider Author releases new books.
In his book, Cities of Gold, American Long Rider Doug Preston describes the gruelling thousand-mild ride he made across the mountains and deserts of Arizona and New Mexico in 1989 In the company of photographer Walter Nelson. The two men rode in the hoofprints of the Spanish explorers who were searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. A new edition of the book includes 120 photographs taken by Walter Nelson on the journey, as well as extremely rare historical photographs of Native Americans and early Arizona and New Mexico prospectors, lawmen, cattlemen and pioneers.
More recently Doug travelled to the jungles of Honduras where he helped locate the “lost city of the monkey god.” His new book tells the story of the remarkable discovery and exploration of this ancient, previously unknown city. The photo (right) shows a calcite-covered skull found in the "Cave of the Glowing Skulls" during the exploration.
“Tschiffely’s Ride” is the most famous equestrian travel book ever written. It describes how Swiss Long Rider Aimé Tschiffely set off in 1925 to ride from Buenos Aires to New York. Yet by the 1980s the book, which inspired four generations to become equestrian explorers was not only out of print, but even second-hand copies were nearly impossible to find.
Thankfully the launch of the Long Riders’ Guild Press saved the world’s most important equestrian travel classics from extinction.
Saving knowledge from the past is of vital importance, but Long Rider authors like Agustín María Mayer and Gintaras Kaltinas are adding to the world’s wisdom by writing exciting new books, based upon their recent equestrian travels.
Argentine Long Rider Agustín María Mayer’s new book, El Sol No Te Espera (The Sun Will Not Wait For You) recounts his adventures as he rode from the province of Buenos Aires to Bariloche in Patagonia.
Lithuanian Long Rider Gintaras Kaltenis new book, “Taking the Old Post Road Using Horses and Carriages”, recounts how representatives of the Lithuanian Geographical Society and the Long Riders’ Guild travelled in classic carriages to commemorate the 100th birthday of Lithuanian Post. The 800 kilometre journey concluded in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
|The Guild would like to welcome Kelly Thorburn as a Member. Kelly rode in Mongolia with Dominick Stephens.|
The Big Fellow from Down Under has ridden on
This New Year began in grief, as the Guild mourns the passing of Australian Long Rider Colin Mitchell. In 2002 Colin rode 5,654 kilometres (3,513 miles) from Darwin, in the Northern Territory, to Cockle Creek, Tasmania.
This was no mere gathering of miles done to satisfy an ambitious ego. Like many Long Rider legends who rode before him, Colin swung into the saddle to champion a noble cause. He took part in an equestrian journey known as the “Campfires against Cancer.” That hard ride raised more than half a million dollars for cancer research.
Even though millions of people worldwide own horses, Colin represents that tiny handful of horse humans known as Long Riders who set off on a life changing equestrian journey. Colin inspired us to find our own courage. He rode thousands of miles to prove that dreams can be fulfilled.
Adios, Long Rider
I sat beside you at the campfire,
far on our travels,
as the night time unravelled,
with the sky burning orange and red.
As you slept, wrapped in memories,
I wondered if you missed the fields and the rolling hills,
and the journeys you left behind on that summer’s day.
I held your hand in mine,
holding back the tears,
afraid to believe,
that the dreams you had taught me,
were all dead.
I could see the traces of all your adventures,
engraved upon your gnarled palm.
Here was the hand that held the reins,
that rode the horse,
that crossed the miles to a distant sea.
And now I sat beside your bedroll,
And watched the evening of your life coming to an end,
You broke camp before dawn,
left while I slept,
gone to chase a prize that you could never find.
My hand still held yours,
but your footsteps,
were far, far away.
That’s when I discovered,
what you had left me.
Beside your memory,
were the things that took up no space in my saddlebag,
your friendship and affection,
and the courage to ride the road to adventure.
I stood to leave,
one last time,
reluctant to let go of the hand,
and the memory.
of a life that could not be described in a paragraph or on a page.
That’s when I saw you smiling at me,
from the other side of the extinguished campfire of your life.
You stood there young again,
a weathered wanderer in a battered hat,
and whispered the last loving words that you said.
“I never saw myself as a hero,” you told me softly.
No, you didn’t, but we all did.
Cowboy Jim Gregory Rides On
The Long Riders' Guild is sorry to report the death of "Cowboy Jim" Gregory (right). The Long Rider was often called “the wandering minstrel”, because he sang as he rode across the United States in 1958 and travelled 4,000 miles from Fontana, California to New York City on his horse Trigger.
Their route took them through North Carolina. When Jim stopped to water Trigger in the town of Creedmoor, he met his future wife, Barbara.
After many months of travel under difficult conditions, Cowboy Jim concluded his journey in New York, where he was interviewed on television by Johnny Carson. He then returned to Creedmoor and married Barbara, the love of his life.
No animal has affected mankind on so deep an emotional level as the horse. Since the days of our prehistoric past, the horse has galloped through our collective consciousness. Considered the most noble of all animals, the horse is often credited with representing the traits which frail humans aspire to, including courage, loyalty, dedication and unconditional love.
Road Horses are not like the flashy race horse or the fire-breathing charger. They may have an ordinary exterior but they have qualities which only the wise can detect, including amazing endurance, astonishing courage, incredible stamina and undying loyalty. Seriy, for example, was the most unlikely of all equine heroes. He was a Yakut horse barely 14 hands high but that didn’t stop him from carrying his rider at a brisk trot 9,500 kilometres (6,000 miles) across Siberia, in the dead of winter, to a meeting with the Czar in St. Petersburg.
During the course of a journey hardship, fatigue, danger and hunger bring horse and human closer and closer together. Theirs is a community centred upon cooperation, sharing, sacrifice and support for one another. As a result, an intimate companionship grows between the Long Rider and the horse. Mary Bosanquet wrote, “On a journey like this a traveller does not possess her horses; they possess her, body and soul.”
Essie Pearl, a Fjord mare, inspired such love and loyalty from Long Rider Bernice Ende. They made many journeys in the United States and Canada, the last of which saw them riding from “ocean to ocean” in both directions, the first time in history that such a journey had been attempted or completed.
Though the two travellers were from different species, during the many years they were together, Essie Pearl and Bernice shivered together in wind and rain. They jointly endured bitter cold and blazing heat. Together they starved and then rejoiced over a meal. They faced the same perils with the same chances of escape or annihilation. They rode the road together for more than 21,000 miles
Having completed her epic journey, Essie Pearl returned home in excellent health and spirits. The constant walking had made her incredibly fit. She had a robust appetite; had developed the ability to sleep anywhere, had become hard, lean, resilient and resourceful. Essie Pearl had slept beneath the stars and run in the sunlight. She had endured driving rain, biting flies and small meals. But in return she had been blessed with a dazzling dose of freedom.
And then she was gone, a victim of EPM, a rare debilitating neurological disease that affects the central nervous system of horses.
Bill Holt expressed the thoughts of so many Long Riders when he wrote, “When a man has lived with a horse, eaten with a horse, swum with a horse, slept with a horse, travelled alone with a horse for months on end, the world seems empty without him.”
According to ancient legend, the Native Americans in Patagonia believed that a mythical land called Trapalanda lay hidden behind the Andes. This was an equine version of Shangri La, where a vast plain of tall, lush green grass awaited the spirit of departed horses. In that land they ran free and were never tired.
Essie Pearl, who travelled through all weathers, who carried her Long Rider on safety’s wing, and who swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has journeyed to Trapalanda.
For information on earlier news stories, please visit the Archives pages, or for 2016 news click here..