Little Long Riders Bud & Temple Abernathy
Once they were famous from the Atlantic to the Pacific. If you had asked any American school children in 1911 who Bud and Temple Abernathy were, they would have given you a look of disbelief. “Everyone knows the Abernathy Boys,” they would have said. And they would have been correct, because the mounted adventures of the little Long Riders from Oklahoma Territory had taken the United States by storm.
On their first equestrian journey in 1909 the tiny travelers, aged nine and five, encountered a host of Old West obstacles, including wolves and wild rivers, when they rode more than 1,000 miles from Oklahoma to Santa Fe and back – ALONE!
The following year the intrepid brothers set their sights on New York City, which they reached after a month of hard riding. Along the way Orville Wright offered to take them up in his new-fangled airplane and President Taft gave them a warm welcome when they reached the White House. Kids envied them. Women adored them. Grown men pulled hair from their horses’ tails to keep as souvenirs.
This public frenzy culminated when Bud and Temple rode their Oklahoma ponies alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in a victory parade witnessed by more than a million cheering New Yorkers. To mark their return, the tiny Long Riders used their meager savings and bought a Wildcat automobile, then drove it home to Oklahoma.
Even though they were only six and ten years old, Temple and Bud Abernathy were a national sensation. In the summer of 1911, they did the impossible. They rode nearly 4,000 miles, from New York to San Francisco, in only sixty-two days. Once again, the Abernathy Boys had made a historic ride without any adult assistance and accomplished an equestrian feat which has never been equaled.
With such a series of magnificent journeys to their credit, it is no surprise to learn that Frederick, Oklahoma, the hometown of the Abernathy Boys, has undertaken a new series of exciting events designed to preserve the legend of the Little Long Riders.
In a telephone interview with The Long Riders’ Guild, Cathy Riggins, an official with the Pioneer Museum in Frederick, explained how a Wildcat automobile, similar to the one used by Bud & Temple, was about to be placed on public display.
“The car is a beautifully restored Wildcat similar to the one the Boys drove from New York city. We’re also unveiling a new inter-active map which lights up and shows the various routes travelled by the Abernathy Boys on all their trips,” Riggins reported.
This 1911 magazine advertisement depicts the Abernathy Boys in their new-fangled Wildcat automobile. According to family lore, little Temple was so small that older brother, Bud, had to tie blocks of wood to the younger boy’s shoes so that the tiny would-be motorist could push the gas and brake pedals.
Click on picture to enlarge.
The Long Riders’ Guild was also happy to learn that the Oklahoma state government might honour their famous Long Rider sons by placing commemorative signs alongside state highways marking the way to Frederick.
To learn more about Frederick, Oklahoma’s efforts to preserve the legend of the Little Long Riders, click here.
For details about the new Wildcat display at the Pioneer Museum in Frederick, please contact Cathy Riggins at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 580-335-7541.
Their remarkable equestrian story entitled, Ride the Wind was penned by a member of their family in 1910.
To read a poem about the Abernathy Boys written by North American Long Rider Jayme Feary, click here.
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