The Long Riders' Guild


Jessica Bigler - Switzerland to Russia and back!



Indefatigable Long Rider Jessica Bigler has set off on her next ride!  In spite of her troubles with Britain's troublesome bridle paths in 2007, she is setting of for much wider fields.

Click on map to enlarge it.

Jessica, Gitan
[the horse who so bravely carried Jessica in 2007], Lindsay the pack-horse and her dog Yok are getting ready to travel across Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia and back to Switzerland through the new EU countries such as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.


"I realise it is a BIG thing that we are planning but after my first experience with Gitan last year, I know I am made for that!" Jessica wrote.  "I am now working a lot, learning to shoe the horses, learning veterinary and human first-aid!


Jessica has now left and sent the following message to The Guild:


I send you this email just to tell you that the team started their journey on the 7th April 2009 ! After a difficult start : Lindsay was scared of something ...I still don't know what ...and ran away, she fell on the ground and the result was a big cut  - lots of stitches and a long rest .... Making me and Gitan impatient to go again :-) Fortunately I have plenty of time and so now we can go on safely.
I decided to change my packhorse with my mounted horse :-) so Gitan, who knows exactly his job, is carrying the bags perfectly, only 40km so he is fine with it! Lindsay is carrying me until she gets a bit used to travelling and calms down a bit !
We are now travelling  towards Germany. My material is perfect, it helps to have already done one trip, now I know exactly how to fix my saddlebags and bits and pieces !

June 2009

Here are some news of my team! I know a lot of the German people I've met speak English, so they will be happy to hear from me through your website!

Since the beginning, things haven't been easy, mostly due to my mare who has been very naughty the first weeks! I was even thinking of selling her and find a new horse. But, I gave her another chance, I guess she understood that because since the last accident, she has been very good and now, I can say that I have a very good team to continue the trip!

After l'Alsace, we had to find a way to cross the RHEIN, we followed for about one day the RHEIN canal and then found a "barrage" to cross it, and so we were in Germany! The canal was forbidden for riders, so I walked! it was the easiest and the most secure way for my team to cross the Rhein, without too many cars and traffic! Again we followed the canal, for several days...easy ride, flat, always straight ahead, water when we want!

Then came the time to say goodbye to the Rhein and to say hello to the Black Forest! We will remember this part! We had the most hottest days until now. Beautiful landscapes, but hard, as you just go up and down all the time. Fortunately for my horses, a friend of mine was here and he carried all my stuff in his car, so we could enjoy riding for a few days. See the pictures attached. 
(Click on either of the pictures below to enlarge.)

I have decided to follow the DANUBE for a while, it goes to Romania...but we will only follow it a few days or so.

We are approaching the Czech republic and should be there in approx. 2 weeks, if everything goes well. So far, Germany has been difficult in the beginning, as the people were very distant and cold with me, and I guess with all strangers! But, the further east I go, the warmer they are. Now people are so welcoming and they all invite me to eat and sleep, and want me to stay with them. But....I want to be in Turkey at the beginning of winter, where we can take a break.

Being alone with 2 horses and a dog is not easy! Some days everything goes wrong, and then you think you must be crazy to do such a trip, alone! But then, I forget it and I start a new day, knowing that travelling with horses is great, as long as you know what you do and as long as your animals come first!

PS: I would like to share a bit of my journey with another long rider, if someone through your site would be interested in joining me for a while, please let me know!

September 2009

Gitan, Yok and I have crossed the Slovakian border at the beginning of August. And I have taken the decision to postpone my trip. Reasons below:
The weather has been really hot, and it has turned into a nightmare to ride and travel.
Eastern Europe has had many problems; it was raining during weeks and even months without stopping. Finally, the sun showed up with really high temperatures, which made a good climate for thousand of mosquitoes ! It happens to be a real problem, specially as I was crossing Austria and Slovakia! Millions of them ! Following the Danube is not helping, as they live near water! But, following the Danube is a good route for me, and will take us to Romania.
I tried to get up at 5' and ride early, but they were here. Riding during the day, under 37 degrees [about 100 degrees Fahrenheit] is crazy for me, I want us to enjoy and I cannot accept to ride on, just because I have to reach a point or whatever ! None of us were content with this, and I decided that the best was to stop my trip until the weather gets cooler !
5 months that we are on the roads...People are incredibly nice and curious. ¨Specially in eastern Europe, I don't speak the language, I speak with my hand and feet. The people are so nice that I am really tired.
When you have a pack horse, you are more free, you can camp where you want, alone, not asking anything to anyone. When you have only one horse, you have to ask people, you have to be smiley and accept invitations for dinner, that last long ... It is nice, because it makes you meet people, a lot ! It's something else, you have to try both way of travelling to know what you most like!  
Riding Gitan barefoot / with Easyboot was great, after the problems I had in the UK with too much tarmac road , I was afraid for his legs, but, being barefoot has given him a second life, I'll never put iron shoes again. Eastern Europe is definitely better to ride than western Europe :-)
Jessica, Gitan and Yok

For information about Jessica's previous  Long Ride, please click here.

Please click here to go to Jessica's website.

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