The World’s “Most Wanted” Long Rider has been found!
With Members in 46 countries, every important equestrian explorer in the world was listed as a Member of the Guild - except for the legendary but elusive Jing Li (above).
The Guild became aware of Jing Li when he concluded a remarkable 9,000 kilometre (5,592 miles) ride from Votkinsk, Russia to Peking, China in 2009. News of that journey inspired a nine-year search for the “world’s most wanted” Long Rider.
Research revealed that Jing Li was born in 1963 in Wuhan, where his father was a university professor. Yet even as a small child, Jing Li recalled being interested in horses. After graduating from university in 1984, Jing Li gained access to the Shenzhen library, where he examined books which provided information and images about equestrian cultures in different parts of the world.
What had been a childhood interest in horses became an adult’s burning desire to undertake an equestrian journey.
Two important developments then occurred. Jing Li learned to ride and he met Russian scholars visiting China. In 1990 Jing Li received an invitation to visit Russia to teach Chinese. He later recalled that when he stepped on the train bound for Russia, he was already harbouring the idea of making an equestrian journey.
"I have to achieve this goal,” he told himself. “All other stages of my life are preparing me for this journey."
But the three-month visa expired all too quickly, which required Jing Li to return to China. His dream of riding across Russia was “stranded.”
It took three years before Jing Li was finally able to obtain a Russian visa valid for one-year. Once again he entered the land of his dreams, only this time he unexpectedly fell in love. He married, became a father, went to work and was granted Russian citizenship.
But by the end of 2006 Jing Li realized that his desire to undertake an equestrian journey was still a distant dream.
“Life is too short,” he told himself.
The time had come to swing into the saddle, “like the ancients did in the old fashioned way.”
Jing Li determined to set off on a trans-continental journey that would take him across Russia, Siberia and China. Such a journey had not been undertaken since 1892, when the Japanese Long Rider, Baron Yasumasa Fukushima (right), rode from Berlin to Tokyo.
In August 2007 Jing Li began an epic journey on horseback. He had a small amount of money, a sleeping bag, a sweater, a tent, and a photo of his son, Maksim. Starting at Votkinsk, Russia, his route took him through the Ural Mountains, which serves as the Continental Divide between Europe and Asia.
During the journey across the vastness of Russia, he would often go days without seeing another human. But the majority of Russians understood and appreciated his actions.
His arrival in Siberia coincided with the onset of winter. Severe weather halted his journey for three months, yet he was deeply moved by natural beauty of the Siberian landscape.
Finally, after eighteen months in the saddle, and having ridden 9,000 kilometres (5,592 miles), Jing Li reached the capital of China.
When Jing Li rode into Peking in March, 2009, he was wearing a cape that displayed the famous slogan of determination, "The Red Army Fears No Hardship during the Expedition."
Despite having ridden across the Eurasian continent, Jing Li remained very passionate about horse travel.
“Do it when you think about it,” he warned those who were contemplating making their own equestrian journeys.
And he meant what he said.
Jing Li’s second equestrian journey took him 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) along the length of the Great Wall of China.
During these years rumours of Jing Li’s journeys were passed to the Long Riders’ Guild. But despite the help of the internet, and hampered by language difficulties, the Guild’s many messages to Russia, Siberia and China produced no results. In 2016, when New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson rode in Siberia, he made a special search for Jing Li, but met with no success. Most recently, Jeff Lindsay, an American living in Shanghai, helped the Guild in its search by sharing news about Jing Li with friends in China.
Then, after a nine year silence, the Long Riders’ Guild received an email from Ruslan Konev, the Press Secretary for Russia’s National Center for Equestrian Tourism.
In the Long Rider equivalent of "Dr. Livingston, I presume," the Guild was informed of Jing Li’s location.
The “missing in action” Long Rider had been found – in the saddle – on his third journey, riding from the Caucasus Mountains towards the Arctic Circle!
Gennadii Semin, President of NETO, agreed to act as a conduit for messages between Jing Li and the Guild.
Starting in March, 2018, Jing Li had departed from Ust-Dzheguta, located north of the Caucasus Mountains on the right bank of the Kuban River. This is the homeland of the ancient Karachay equestrian culture. No known Long Rider has explored this part of the world since Negley Farson journeyed there in 1929.
|Jing Li is making his third journey mounted on a Karachay stallion that was donated by Khasan Kilichbievich Salpagarov, a distinguished breeder.|
Jing Li named the horse Karaman.
“The first part of the name - Kara - will remind me of the benevolent inhabitants of the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic where the horse was born, and the second part - man - is part of the name of my ultimate goal on this journey - Murmansk.”
The Long Rider’s route north will take him to Volgograd, Samara, St. Petersburg and finally Murmansk. The journey is being reported in Russia’s national equestrian magazine, Konevoditel.
In an email to the Guild, Gennadii Semin wrote, “Yesterday, I spoke with Jing Li. He is ready to accept the invitation to become a Member of the Long Riders' Guild.”
Also, when Jing Li reaches Volgograd, he will be presented with the Long Riders’ Guild flag, which he will then carry during the remainder of his journey across Russia.
|Jing Li has been described as “A dreamer who achieves his dreams, a man of imagination.”|
Though it has taken nearly a decade to locate Jing Li, the search has been worth it.
The Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration describes the singular experience known among Long Riders as "the long quiet."
This state of tranquillity, reached with the help of the companion horse, brings the traveller into touch with what Jing Li described as “the musical quality of Nature.”
When asked to explain why he had set off to become a Long Rider, Jing Li responded, "This is not a game, I think of it as the meaning of life.”
Welcome to the Guild, Long Rider Jing Li.