The Long Riders' Guild

Historical Long Riders






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.

Cowboy 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.









Vonceil 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, was assumed.

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 dinner party.

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.

An article documented how the Long Rider was immediately cast as the heroine in the film “Riding Romance.” Yet as the journalist explains, Vonceil’s fame and life were both tragically short. “Daring bets, tall tales, a drop dead gorgeous cowgirl-turned-starlet, a tragic demise and unsolved mysteries make this story one of the strangest in horse and Hollywood history.”


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.

Vischer’s journey inspired John Hare to undertake a camel expedition in 2001, which journey went in the opposite direction.


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