The Long Riders' Guild
Historical Long Riders
F. A. Talbot -
rode through the North West Passage of the Canadian Rockies in 1901.
Richard "Diamond Dick" Tanner - rode his
mare Gyp from Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City and back in 1893.
Albert Terhune -
rode through Syria and the Middle East in 1894. Terhune wrote,
"I have heard among bards of the desert many songs in praise of love
or horses, that have far more true poetry and vigour than all the magazine
poems which purport to be Arabic translations."
No picture available
Maria "Nelly" Ternan - England's first
female foreign correspondent, rode into the mountains of Algeria in search
of lions in 1881.
- rode in Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and the Gran Chaco jungle during the
early 1920s. Here is an article about his adventures.
Count Ilia Tolstoy - rode from India to
China across Tibet. To read his exciting story about this dangerous
and diplomatic journey,
please click here.
Count Leo Tolstoy - was so passionate
about horses that his friend and fellow author, Ivan Turgenev, accused him
of having been a horse in his previous life! The famous author of
War and Peace rode frequently right up to his death. The
photograph on the left shows him in the saddle just before his 80th
Few people recall today that
Germany and Afghanistan were once close friends, allied in their mutual
distrust of the then still-powerful British Empire. Within the space of a
few years the British had beaten the Germans on the battlefields of the
First World War. A few years later these same English victors used their
military machine, complete with state-of-the-art airplanes based in India,
to bomb their Afghan neighbours
into political submission. It was during the early 1920s, while both Germany
and Afghanistan were thus licking their wounds and regaining their political
power, that the German geologist Emile Trinkler made his
legendary trip across the forbidden kingdom of Afghanistan. The Afghan king
had shut his borders to the majority of outsiders, which further heightened
the kingdom’s already famous isolation. Yet having arrived at the Afghan
border via Russian Turkestan, Trinkler wasn’t about to go back. He mounted a
local horse and rode off across the vast interior of that still-beautiful
country. Through the Heart of Afghanistan
describes his journey
a Central Asian world now
passed into memory. Trinkler saw Afghanistan as she still was,
asleep and dreaming in the last stages of her long medieval slumber.
No one knew they were looking at a hero and his two horses.
Instead the local press derided him as "a lunatic proposing to ride overland
to New York."
The time was 1925. The place,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Standing on the threshold of
equestrian travel history was a young Swiss Long Rider named Aimé
Tschiffely. Next to him were his two faithful Criollo horses,
Mancha and Gato. Their collective goal was to ride more than ten thousand
miles from Buenos Aires to New York. No one had ever attempted such a
journey. Everyone thought Tschiffely was mad.
Looking back on what would
become the most famous equestrian journey of the modern age, it is difficult
to believe that anyone doubted the abilities of the legendary Long Rider and
his hardy horses. Yet the school teacher who became an equestrian explorer
had been told he was too inexperienced, his horses too old, and the journey
What Aimé Tschiffely was told
This is the story of the
greatest equestrian epic of the twentieth century, a journey that came about
because a man and his horses refused to quit - ever! During the course of
their travels Tschiffely, Mancha and Gato crossed deadly deserts, passed
through jungles, traversed sky-high mountain passes - and rode on. They were
assailed by vampire bats, mistaken for gods and navigated the Panama Canal -
but rode on.
Nothing stopped them. No one
since has rivalled their accomplishments.
Tschiffely wrote a number of books about this adventure, and others, all of which
can be found in the Tschiffely Collection.
For more information, visit his website.
Henry Tudor - set off from New York City
in 1879 determined to ride to Punta Arenas, Patagonia. The Guild can
find no information to confirm he arrived at his far-off goal.
Ethel Tweedie -
When this young equestrian
traveller left London in 1888, she had not planned to forsake the sidesaddle
favoured by other English women of her social class. Yet upon her arrival in
Iceland, Ethel discovered that the local women rode astride like their male
"Necessity gives courage in
emergencies, so I determined to throw aside conventionality, and do in
‘Iceland as the Icelanders do.' The amusement of our party when I overtook
them, and boldly trotted past, was intense; but I felt so comfortable in my
altered seat that their derisive and chaffing remarks failed to disturb me.
Riding man-fashion is less tiring than on a side-saddle, and I soon found it
far more agreeable, especially when traversing rough ground. My success soon
inspired Miss T. to summon up courage and follow my lead. Society is a hard
task-master, yet for comfort and safety, I say ride like a man," Tweedie
recalled. Upon her return to England, the Long Rider, turned social
reformer, called for the abolishment of the sidesaddle for three reasons,
safety, comfort and health. To read more about the issue of sidesaddles,
view this story “Sidesaddles and Suffragettes.”
F. Bailey Vanderhoef Jr.
- While attending Harvard University,
Billy Vanderhoef and Wilbur L. Cummings discovered they shared a mutual desire
to see the mysterious kingdom of Tibet. After graduation they set off in 1938 to
ride from the Indian town of Kalimpong, over the Himalayan mountains, to the
Tibetan city of Gyantse. Their mission was to observe the sacred Buddhist
ceremonies held there during a sacred festival, the highlight of which was the
unveiling of a massive religious painting.
Mounted aboard pacing Tibetan ponies,
the Ivy League Long Riders underwent a series of adventures, met a procession of
intriguing people and observed one of the world’s most unusual horse races.
In his journal, Vanderhoef recalled how
the Tibetans gathered at the remote hill fort of Dzong to commemorate Genghis
Khan’s mounted invasion of that town. At the break of dawn, a horde of Tibetan
horsemen set off from the site of the Mongol’s camp, which lay five miles away.
As the sun rose they raced across the stony plain, charged through a river and
eventually came charging straight up the hill and into the town.
“What a sight they were in the full
sunlight against the intense sky. We could almost imagine it was the same June
sixteenth when Genghis Khan stormed the fort, for such was the splendor of the
ancient custom of Tibet that had not changed since the centuries,” the young
Long Rider wrote.
Upon reaching the Tibetan city of
Gyantse, their efforts were rewarded. They not only observed the special
religious festival, they also procured some of the first colour photographs of
Tibet. In 2008, the many paintings, sculptures, photographs and journals they
had collected were donated to Tibetan Collection at the Santa Barbara Museum of
Art. The image shows a traditional Tibetan saddle.
movie star, Long Rider, show judge and horseman supreme, all of these titles
apply to Joe Vanorio, the equestrian traveller who rode from New York to
California in 1928. Upon reaching the bright lights of Hollywood, the
dashing young horseman was employed as Tom Mix’s stunt double. He went on to
work with Gary Cooper and other western film stars. During his time as in
Hollywood, Joe introduced the concept of training horses to drop upon
command with hand signals and in doing so did away with cruel use of the
trip wire. Upon returning to his home in New York state, Joe used his
equestrian talents to become one of the founders of the Professional
Horseman’s Association. A revered teacher and trainer, Joe pioneered the
concept of equestrian forums and organized an effort to allow state park
lands to be used for bridle ways.
A. C. Veatch
FRGS - rode from Quito, Ecuador to Bogata, Columbia, via the Andes
Mountains in 1913.
Harry La Verne
- rode from San Francisco to Galveston, Texas, in 1894.
Viking - Few Long Riders ever attracted more
spotlights than did the would-be movie star who called herself Vonceil Viking.
The year was 1927 when the attractive blonde announced to the press that she was
going to ride her horse, “Broadway,” from New York to Los Angeles. Whereas other
equestrian travellers have told reporters that they were setting out on
horseback to find fame, fortune, love or just a job, Viking’s mission was to
ride to Hollywood, where she hoped to become a movie star. Yet things were not
as clear as they seemed. According to one newspaper story, the petite rider had
been born in Oklahoma and raised on a ranch in New Mexico. She claimed her name,
Vonceil, “is a Cherokee Indian word for of the sky.” Her surname, she admitted,
Regardless of what they called her, Viking apparently had a different reason to
make the ride, depending on which reporter she was talking to. If she made the
journey in four months, she said, she would win a contract to appear in a movie.
But she told another reporter that she was making the ride, “so as to prove the
hardiness and courage of today’s American girl.” Finally, there was a trace of
the mercenary involved, as Vonceil also claimed she was making the ride as the
result of a $25,000 wager she made with the Marquis of Donegal at a London
While the motivation remained unclear, the fact that Viking received help from
Fred Beebe instantly added a suspicious note to the beginning of the ride. Beebe
was a well-known promoter who had recently staged the “World Series Rodeo” at
Madison Square Gardens. According to the New York Times, “women screamed as
cowboys and cowgirls were trampled by broncos” at the event. It was Beebe who
provided an escort of mounted cowboys to escort Viking to her meeting with New
York Mayor Jimmy Walker.
The inclusion of this well-known politician, who agreed to witness Vonceil’s
departure, was ironic as in October, 1928 Walker welcomed Swiss Long Rider Aimé
Tschiffely when that equestrian traveller concluded his legendary journey from
Buenos Aires to New York. While Tschiffely’s journey is completely documented,
Viking suddenly disappeared once she rode Broadway out of the Big Apple. The
Guild has been unable to locate any newspaper accounts which might confirm
Viking’s actual progress across the United States. Instead there are only two
photos which claim to prove that she completed the ride.
According to a photo caption from the Los Angeles bureau of the Associated
Press, Viking arrived in Los Angeles on February 10, 1928, after having “covered
4,000 miles in sixteen states.” A second photo claims she made the ride in 120
days. This would have required her to have averaged more than thirty miles a
day. While this is not impossible, given the fact that the Abernathy Boys rode
from New York to San Francisco in 62 days, it does stretch credulity to look at
the photos showing a sleek horse and a radiant rider, neither of which seem to
have encountered so much as a single dusty mile during the course of their
What is not in doubt is how the ride affected Vonceil’s plans to conquer
Hollywood. Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, she was invited to open the new
La Monica Ballroom. Then she got her big break.
She was invited to be the co-star in a low budget film entitled “The Fighting
Forrester.” The second of twelve movies in the series, the films starred Edmund
Cobb. No reviews apparently survive regarding Vonceil’s cinematic debut.
What is known is that shortly after completing her film, twenty-seven-year-old
Vonceil Viking died in an automobile accident at Banning, California. The truth
about her ride is still unknown.
Sir Hanns Vischer
(born in Basel,
Switzerland in 1876, died 1945) was a Missionary, an official in the British
Colonial service and African explorer.
Before Vischer obtained
British citizenship, he was on his way to becoming a Missionary in Hausaland;
as a British citizen he could work for the Colonial Administrative Service
and he developed an educational system which ensured that the local cultural
specialities were included. Following the success of this educational
system in northern Nigeria, Vischer was knighted.
The Swiss-born Briton
became famous for crossing the Sahara, from north to south, on horseback in
1906. The journey started in Tripoli, Tunisia and ended at Lake Chad. For
this he had to get permission from England to be allowed to make the return
journey to his post as administrator in Kukawa. A second journey in the
opposite direction was refused by his superior, W. P. Hewby. He published
the book about his journey in 1910, entitled Across the Sahara.
inspired John Hare to undertake a camel expedition in 2001, which journey
went in the opposite direction.
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