When Karla Edmunds and I set off on a four-month ride to America's West, all we had for information about horse travel was a U.S. Cavalry Manual. That was in 1973.
Most of our Eastern acquaintances thought it was a hare-brained idea. Some said we'd never make it. Others thought we were downright irresponsible. But we went anyway, and we did complete our Maine to Montana ride in good shape before the snow flew.
In 1973 there was no Long Riders’ Guild. There was no internet. Before we left we sent off 200 letters seeking information and contacts along our route. As a result, we had lots of support the entire way, easing the minds of family and friends we said good-bye to.
We were both experienced riders, well versed in horse care and veterinary treatment. But there was still plenty of trial and error involved in figuring out how to travel on horseback. Inadvertently, our horses suffered because of it. Improper tethering resulted in a bad rope burn. Poor saddle fit caused a pressure sore. Regular horse shoes lasted a mere two weeks before breaking in two at the toe. And the bugs were terrible. We had to find solutions as we went, and the help we received en route was incalculable. Following that trip, I was then able to continue riding my horse another 5,000 miles on around the country.
Today, no horse used for travel needs to suffer in the hands of inexperience. The Long Riders’ Guild dedicates itself to this aim. The information provided is well researched and unbiased since the Guild is not sponsor supported or in the business of selling products.
The Founders are accomplished horse travellers themselves who put a name to who and what we are – “Long Riders.”
They resurrected out-of-print books about historic long rides soon to be lost and they defined for the world the uniqueness of equestrian travel.
I myself had no idea that there are still many people undertaking extraordinary expeditions on horseback all around the world. Contacted by the Guild, I recently had the opportunity to assist a cross- country horse traveller passing through my own home area. Following an established code of ethics placing the welfare of her horses as the highest priority, Sea Rhydr was proud to call herself a Long Rider. It is also a code of behaviour that ensures credibility and honour to the traveller who follows it.
Making a long journey on horseback is a dream for most people, requiring months, even years, of preparation. The code also stipulates that Long Riders help other Long Riders, and thus a community is formed. Sea attested to the tremendous support she received from both the Founders and other Long Riders she was put in touch with on her journey from coast to coast.
Travel by horseback is not dead, thanks to the Long Riders' Guild, the only organization of its kind worldwide, its superb website, and the willingness of its Founders, Basha and CuChullaine O'Reilly, to help and inspire those who seek a profound relationship with a horse through open-air travel.
For those who dare to dream, the Guild speaks inspiration and possibility at the highest standard in adventure travel.
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