The Long Riders' Guild

Francois Xavier Aubry

Francois Xavier Aubry was the notorious French-Canadian horse-killer whose legacy of equestrian infamy has been largely misinterpreted by the pedestrian media, both past and present, who prefer to depict the small hard-riding man as a saddle-borne hero, instead of the cold-blooded savage which he was. In the late winter of 1848 Aubry left Santa Fe on horseback for Independence, Missouri. A hard man, Aubry was not one to concern himself about the welfare of his mounts - along the way he rode to death a good saddle horse and three mules. As soon as Aubry accomplished his business in Independence, he returned to Santa Fe in late spring. Once his business was completed there, he announced that he was determined to make the return journey to Independence in only eight days. However on this journey he very nearly lost his life to Indians who took his horse and what belongings and food he carried. Aubry later recalled how he managed to escape and walked forty miles before he was able to obtain another mount. When he finally arrived in Independence, Aubry had missed his mark by only ten hours. Nevertheless he claimed that allowing for time lost along the way he had actually made the long ride in seven days. Again Aubry had abused his mounts mercilessly, and the cruel toll this time was six horses dead and half a dozen more left permanently wounded. The news of Aubry's accomplishments soon spread across the plains and upon returning to his old haunts in Santa Fe, Aubry offered to wager $1,000 that he could make the ride in six days. He boasted, "I'd kill every horse along the trail before I'd lose that thousand dollar bet.” Yet it was the murderous rider who died instead, stabbed to death in a bar brawl in 1854. Sadly Aubry’s deplorable record of equestrian abuse was resurrected in 2007 by the organizers of an endurance race calling itself “The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race.” Offering a prize of $100,000, the organizers praised the diminutive horse killer, saying, “Aubry was just one of those driven characters who wanted to do things bigger, better and faster than anyone else.” The Long Riders’ Guild believes that holding Aubry up as a role model is an act of journalistic naivety and equestrian folly.

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