The Long Riders' Guild

European Long Riders make historic expedition
across African Continent

afrikaabenteuer.gif (29189 bytes)

Esther Stein and Horst Hausleitner are on a journey from Southern Africa to Kenya.  This is one of the most dangerous regions in the world, as Laura Bougault found out when she was attacked by Zulu tribesmen!

On this page are the early messages from Esther and Horst telling The Long Riders' Guild about their incredible adventures and hardships.

28 March 2003

The Long Riders' Guild has just received the following email from Esther.

"We're enjoying Africa so far. The weather has been chilly and rainy the first few days but now it sunny and perfect riding weather. 

Mr. Burger, the breeder, has been so incredibly helpful. We stayed in his house for the first three days and his wife cooked three warm meals for us per day. Everyday we did long rides over his huge farm to try the horses. Now we have chosen 3 geldings. The vet has seen them already and had filled up the papers what we need for the border in Botswana. They are the tamest ones he had but not that tame. But they are wonderful to ride, very comfortable. They have a gait between walk and trot which is called short-gait here and it's pretty fast but does not shake you at all. You probably know what I mean but in Europe not many breeds have this walk. They are not to easy to catch when they are running around but this will change after a little while on the journey, I'm sure. One is very nervous even when we saddle it but also I hope that will change after a while.

Now we are in Johannesburg to check the import permit for Botswana. It was very complicated, but today we got the good news the paper is ready and already on it's way to Mr. Burger the breeder. The papers will be there on Monday. And we plan to start riding on Tuesday. Mr. Burger promised to send the papers to a farm on our way if they do not arrive in time. He also will ask all his contacts to hand us from farm to farm until the border of Botswana so that we'll have secure places to stay over night. And he gave us some good advices about the route and the secure and less secure ways. He and his family are just wonderful. 

Tomorrow we'll visit Ria and will say thank you for her help personally.

Well you see so far we are more than O.K. and still sure it was the best idea we ever had to go on this trip. Thank you for all your good wishes."

4 April 2003

The Long Riders' Guild has received the following message from Esther:

"We are on our way now for the third day. We can only do 15 km per day because of the horse-sickness injection. But from next week on we will extend the daily amount of kilometers. Yesterday we did 25 and the horses were pretty exhausted so we walked on foot for 1 1/2 hours.  But therefore we will rest a day today and we reached a wonderful farm with very nice people. One hobble is broken already but the farmer here can fix it.  

Armand [one of the horses] is a little lame because of the wound on his foot, which he got when Mr. Burger tried to get him used to the hobbles, but always after a few steps he starts walking normally so we are not too worried. We just keep spraying and creaming. We have arranged to meet a farrier so the horses can be shod at the weekend;  because we are travelling on gravelled roads, the horses feet hurt already. But they are starting to get tame . Today for the first time they approached us voluntarily when we came to the field where they grazed.......

The people in South Africa are lovely. Almost every night we are invited for dinner or people just bring us cold drinks on the road. Tomorrow there will be an article in the local newspapers about our tour."

14 April 2003

The Long Riders' Guild received an email from Ria Bosman-Naysmith in South Africa.  Ria is the only woman on record to have ridden from South Africa to Kenya (you can read Ria's truly hair-raising tales here.)

"Esther and Horst also came to see me in Ballito, and we spent a few hours together. In the beginning of corresponding with them by e-mail I had my doubts about travelling through South Africa.  The old friendly, hospitable South Africa is gone and everybody I spoke to feared for their lives, as murder, rape, hi-jacks, robbery is really so common now, that our whole lifestyle have changed. After I met them I was a lot more optimistic as they seem to be really sensible and are prepared to listen to the people who live here. Yesterday I went to meet them on the road. They were only about a 160km away from where I live and it was so nice to see them again.  I took 2 young friends with me, who are very keen horsemen themselves and Horst and the young man enjoyed each others company. 
They are really doing well and are so impressed with the help the local farmers and people on the road are giving them.  They are offered a place to sleep just about every day, a hot bath and a meal.  The farmers phone ahead to their friends and arrange a place to sleep for them and the horses.  It is so good as it is really to dangerous to be out in the veld at night. They both look good, have lost a bit of weight and are still so optimistic about their ride.  I do believe they are going to make it, I really hope so.
They had a little problem with one of the horses who developed a saddle sore, the next day he had bad colic and injured himself badly.  The farmer they bought the horses from is willing to take that horse back and bring them a new one.  So they should be o.k. now.  If it is possible I will try and see them again before they cross the border."

24 April 2003

Another reassuring email came in from Ria.

"Esther asked me to e-mail you when I phoned her this morning.  Apparently everything is going fine,  the new horse is great and they are very satisfied with him.  Today is a rest day for them as the horses just had a shot from the vet,  I think it is the second shot for horse-sickness.  Tonight they are in a town called Lichtenburg, and hope to leave there in a day or so depending on how the horses react to their injections 
They are now about 100km-150km from the boarder,  so hopefully they will be out of South Africa in a week or so, then the real ride begins.  I hope things will continue to go well for them,  so far it seems as if it was relatively easy for them.  We have a very well populated farming community all over South Africa.  Botswana is a bit different with a very sparsely populated farming community, still a lot of wild life, and a very scarce water supply.  I trust they have done their homework well and know what the circumstances are like."
Ria wrote.

19 May 2003

Esther wrote a letter which some kind person put into an email to The Guild.

"We have met lots of nice and helpful people, but this beats everything.  As you know, we are in Botswana, water is a luxury and grass is just non-existent.  Today was the first day on the whole trip that I wondered if our idea was a good one.  I was worried for the horses - the land around us was just sand and something that might have been grass a long time ago.  I was sitting on my horse, obviously not looking verey happy, when a white guy stopped and asked if we needed water for the horses.  He offered us a camp, water, and even food for the horses, which made our day.

But it got even better yesterday (15th May).  We had stopped at a filling station to ask for water for the horses, and the manager, Lance, had immediately given us his card in case we ever needed help on the road.  Today we had just fed the horses when he turned up with his wife, bringing us fresh food, apples, carrots and salad, and they invited us to a barbecue tomorrow - they would find us wherever we were!  They will drive about 25 kilometres from here and make a stone pyramid on the road as a sign for us to turn into the bush there, and they will wait for us with a barbecue - or Braai, as they call it here, and water.  Then they will prepare us an English breakfast in the bush!  What amazingly nice people - we only had about 15 minutes contact with them, and they care so much.  And they helped us at a time when I was really worried as everyone has been telling us that it's going to get worse, more and more difficult to find water and grass.

There always seems to be a way to continue."

Yes, all Long Riders can tell you that there are some astonishingly kind people in the world.

21 May 2003

Ria wrote again to update The Long Riders' Guild.

"Esther phoned me last night from a place called Artista,  a short way on the other side of Gaberone. They are very well and are enjoying the ride very much, the horses are doing very well and everything seems to be going their way.  Esther cannot stop talking about the helpful people on the way,  and to what lengths people will go to make their ride pleasant.  Apparently it is extremely dry and there is no grass growing anywhere in the fields, but somehow the people on the way have a bit of greenery around their buildings e.g. schools etc and allow the horses to graze there.  A man stopped them by the side of the road and offered to bring a barbeque to the in the evening wherever they were to stop, that day the horses had no water to drink and the man brought 150 litres of water for them. I just hope it will continue that way as they are now entering a less populated area. 
I am so very pleased that they are doing so well."

2 June 2003

At last Esther has got onto the Internet and has written to The Long Riders' Guild herself!  But with what a terrible story!

"Finally I have the chance to write an email myself. We've had a few terrible days. The horses got lost. I was desperate I saw them as biltong (dried meat that they eat in Africa).  In the morning they didn't come back as they usually would do to drink. We were in the middle of the bush between Mahalapye and Serowe and had found the only well within 25km in both directions, at least that was what we thought, so we were sure they would come back. 

But they didn't, so as soon as there was the faintest daylight I started looking for them by following their footprints while Horst stayed with our luggage. Obviously they had gone on the main trail about 3kms in the direction of Serowe, but than turned to the west into the bush. There I lost their tracks. There were so many footprints of cattle, donkeys and goats that I couldn't figure out in which direction they had continued. I walked back to our camp and asked Horst to go to Serowe to rent a car and come back. I hoped he could find a lift but the only car which passed didn't stop, and a donkey-cart was already packed with people and didn't have enough room for him. 

So he walked 25 km. In the afternoon he phoned me to tell me that he had arrived at the home of a German missionary, a contact that I had already made from Austria. Unfortunately the missionary was on a cattle post with the 4x4 and his wife didn't have a car suitable for the bush and there was no possibility to rent a car in Serowe. It's only a small African village. Finally she drove him back with her car very carefully and took our luggage. 

Horst and I stayed in the bush without anything. Horst had even forgotten to bring drinking water. The well at our camp had a broken pump and the night before we had fetched the water from a depth of 30 meters with a bucket. This had now gone with the luggage to Serowe. We walked thirstily about 5kms through the bush yelling for the horses. Then it got dark. Sigrid, the missionary's wife called and told us we could have her husband's 4x4 the next morning. We lit a fire and hoped some car would pass and take us to the village. We were lucky, the first and probably only car at this night stopped and the driver spoke English and gave us a lift. I didn't sleep very well that night as you can imagine. 

The next morning we drove back to the bush and saw fresh footprints at the well where we had camped the night before. We had missed them! We should have stayed in the bush. But at least they seemed to be alive. The footprints where fresh. We followed them with the car and I stopped at every hut to spread the news that I would pay 1000 pula for the person who would find my horses. And finally this action was successful. A guy in his bucky that we had stopped before to ask whether he had seen three horses came back and said he had found them. 

We followed him about 3km deeper in the bush to a cral [corral] and there they were. They were sweating but apart from that they were all right. When I saw them I jumped out of the car before it stopped and ran into the cral without greeting anyone straight to the horses, then I hugged Roland and cried for about half an hour. These people had probably never seen anyone crying about a horse. We shared the 1000 Pula. 500 for the guy who had showed the way and 500 for the thief, I can't really prove that he had kept the horses to keep them or to save them. 

And then off we went. The horses had gone about 12 kms in the wrong direction. To make sure we would reach Serowe before it got dark, we had to hurry up. I rode Roland and Horst chased the other two horses through the bush with the car. That day we made a distance 35 km, 25 of that I galloped with just one short break after 10 kms. The last 10 kms were the most exhausting. I had to go on the tarred road pulling two exhausted horses with the rope and making my riding horse walk as well. Horst was still driving the car. But finally we arrived and got a fenced camp for the horses. 

That night I slept much better. 

Now everything is fine. Tomorrow we will travel on. Apart from this story, so far Botswana has been wonderful. The people are amazing and the way black and white people get along with each other is completely different from South Africa."


20th June 2003


The Long Riders' Guild has received another hair-raising email from Esther in Botswana.


"Botswana is dry dry dry. We have been having a hard time. The horses had to survive two days without water. But they made it. A few days later we ended up at a vet gate in the middle of nowhere knowing we had a stretch of 50kms (30+ miles) without water ahead of us. People there only had water for themselves. No radio for the next 50kms. Armand stared to act funny, so we took his temperature - he had a fever 40,1C (103 degrees Fahrenheit).   It was clear he couldn't make the distance, but then we couldn't wait without water. Gave him penicillin and painkillers. At night he started coughing ,sweating and shivering, which was extremely frightening. The guys allowed us to put him in an empty hut, it was windy and cold. 

Next morning it was still dark but there was a full moon, so I took Roland and rode alone the 50 kms to organize a truck to get the horse out of the bush.  At 12.00 I arrived at the main gate and started phoning. The vet first. He told me to give the horse also the medicine against bilary again if his gums turned red. At 2.00 I had found someone who would send a truck to the main gate at 3. He only arrived at 5, and didn't have a ramp to load the horses, so we had to find a hill first. 
We finally managed to get the horses and the luggage and Horst loaded. The driver drove as if he had never carried horses (which was probably the fact) and the horses fell. Armand was in a terrible condition. At 9 we arrived at the main gate. Same procedure with Roland to bring them 40kms further to Nata Sanctuary where we would find water and grass. Armand's gums were a deep purple by that time. At the sanctuary he injured his shoulder when we tried to offload him. He just didn't have the strength any more to make the step of 50cm (20 inches) into the pile of sand. It was 11.20 when I finally could give him the injection. Than he laid down and couldn't stand up anymore although he tried. Didn't drink, and  obviously had pain swallowing. We were sure he wouldn't survive the night. But he did. 

He is better now but not fine yet. His gums look normal, but he's still got fever and his mouth is full of abscesses.  On the other hand, he is eating again and seems to be more awake every day. The state vet came to draw blood and send it to wonderful Rob Jackson, the vet in Gaborone. We keep phoning him twice a day to get more instructions. Hope to know more what the horse is suffering from within the next two days. Which means we are still at Nata Sanctuary waiting. A week's rest was planned here anyway, so the time is not really a problem so far.  

We don't want to exchange Armand for another horse as he is our favourite and has the most wonderful character. 

Otherwise we are fine, and have warm water and even our clothes are as clean as they haven't been for weeks.

All the best for you

Esther and Horst"


24 July 2003


"After my last email to you I briefly considered giving up the journey when I looked at our poor horse. I'm over it but it is still very sad. Armand had the nicest character of the three and he was my favourite. But I suppose you cannot afford to be sentimental on a journey like this. We have brought him to Kasane in a Range Rover to give him another 2 weeks rest while we were riding with the two remaining horses through the bush.

When we arrived here it turned out he is recovering but very, very slowly - it would take him at least another 4 month before we could go on with him. So we decided to leave him with one of the people we made friends with and bought another horse in Zimbabwe. The owner is going to bring it to Livingston when we'll arrive there, which will be around the third of August.

But now about the last two weeks. It was absolutely fantastic. We had to hire a back up vehicle for this stretch because we had one horse less and there was no water at all in this area. The car only met us at night to bring our tent and water - the rest of the day we were alone with the bush and plenty of wild animals. It was just a pleasant ride. Without worrying about the luggage we could do nice gallops, approach giraffes and elephants and see them being more afraid of the horses than the other way around. The horses were absolutely wonderful. They trusted us so much that we easily could calm them just by talking to them when game was around. We had been warned that there would be plenty of lions around and even the locals didn't expect us to survive these two weeks. In fact we saw lion footprints every day and we heard them at night. But we had the horses in the middle of three big fires at night and slept in turns and the lions didn't attack us. Once in the early morning an elephant came out of the bush and headed towards our camp - it had probably smelled the water. It was a single bull and he was huge. Sambuk had already been released and ran away immediately!   Roland pulled on his rope but stayed. 50 meters before the tent the bull changed his mind and turned back into the bush. It was quite thrilling.

So much for now. We'll stay in Kasane until the first of August to wait for the import permits for the horses into Zambia.

All the best for you

Esther and Horst"


7 August 2003


Esther and Horst nearly forgot a really important message!


"Just a short note: We are in Zambia, in Livingston waiting for the papers for the third horse. Good news! we found out we can ride along the Zambesi and Lake Kariba. That means we won't have telephone signal for at least a month, but that also means we'll reach regions with people who might have never seen a white man in their lives. We are really looking forward to it.

But what's also important, I forgot in the last email, you can call us full Members of The Long Riders' Guild, we have done 1672 kilometers so far - that's a thousand miles isn't it?

All the best for you

Esther and Horst


Yes, Esther and Horst, a thousand miles is 1600 kilometers, so we have moved you from Associate Members of The Guild to Full Members! 


17 September 2003


After more than a month of silence, we were very relieved to receive an email from Esther this morning.

"We've been through a real adventure. Zambia is definitely not very civilized. It has been hell and it's not over yet by the sound of it.  People in the bush have never seen horses and only a few of them have ever seen a white man. Some of them ran away from us, which was actually a reaction we really appreciated in the end. Most of them where so curious the we didn't have any privacy at all until the sun went down every night. Hundreds of children were following us screaming and shouting from village to village and as soon as we stopped to water the horses or pitch our tent, we had all the adults standing around us as well, just staring. No one spoke English, not even yes or no. And it was hot hot hot. They call September and October suicide months, now I know why.   We can only ride half a day. We get up when it's still dark and start riding in the dawn. From 12.00 on it is just too hot to move, for the horses and for us. We just try to find some shade and water and lie down for the rest of the day, unable to take more than a few steps.
Now we've reached Chirundu. Here is a nice camp site, with shade and privacy. The horses need new shoes and we got a lift to Lusaka where we bought some. But the shoes they sell here aren't very good so we wonder how long they'll last. Our two Bureperde horses are wonderful but the new one has saddle sores because of her terrible high withers, both front legs are damaged because she's kicking herself with every step, and she's had an eye infection and is now blind on one eye. But we got some foam rubber to pad the saddles even more and brush boots to protect her feet. So we'll see how she will do.  
I'm pretty exhausted and have been a million times in the mood to give up, but I guess that's part of the experience. So we won't give up although it sounds that nothing is going to change for at least another two months except for the fact that it is going to get another 10 degrees hotter.
But we are not in danger at all. It seems that Zambia has enough water, no game left - it's all been poached - and at least in the bush they don't know what aggression is. It's completely safe. The landscape is absolutely fantastic, if the country would be a little less populated it could be paradise.
So far for now, I don't know when I will next be able to write, but as soon as I get the chance you'll hear from us again.

Esther, we get exhausted and hot just reading your emails!

We wrote back to Esther, asking if the "new horse" who kept kicking herself was the one they had bought to replace their much-loved Armand.


27 September 2003


"Yes, the new horse ("Regal Color" but we call her "Trine," a German name for someone a little bit slow, not too bright, but friendly) is the horse which has replaced Armand. After we provided her with brushing boots her feet look much better, but her saddle sore is worse. In fact it doesn't look like it's going to heal underneath the saddle.

But we are so lucky!  We have finally reached civilisation and are staying right now on a rose farm just outside Lusaka. The owners, Sue and Greg Barnes are absolutely fantastic people, interesting, intelligent with a great sense of humour and very hospitable. After so long in the bush it is such a pleasure to talk to people of our own culture. Good conversation is probably what I've missed most in the bush. However they put us in contact with friends of theirs who offered us another horse for $300, also a mare, called "Misty."   She is about 12 years old, and the same size as the other horses. She has high withers, but not as high as Trine's, and her hooves seem to be bit harder. She was a farm horse in Zimbabwe, and last year she was used as a polo-horse but turned out to be not fast enough. We bought her and will go on with 4 horses. Trine is going to run free until her saddle sore is healed.  With a bit of luck this will also mean we have a spare horse when the next one has an injury. From now on food and water shouldn't  be a problem any more. The north of Zambia has more rivers and we are going towards the rainy season, which means it should be possible to feed and water four horses just as easily as three."

Click here to go to this intrepid pair's main page with the latest jaw-dropping information.

Home     Top