Steve McCutcheon has set off on a unique journey - from Delhi, India to Beijing, China!
Long Rider Simone Carmigniani, who knows Pakistan very well indeed, is doing everything he can to help Steve. In an email to The Guild, Steve wrote, "Simone has been a big help with planning my trip. Though we only met three times, he has given some invaluable knowledge of navigating parts of Pakistan from Islamabad onwards up to Kunjerab."
Steve went on to say that Simone actually went with him to look at his proposed mount for the journey, Rosie. "He deemed her more than suitable... so did I, which was why I bought her."
We wish Steve the best of luck in achieving his goal and hope he succeeds in making this extremely hazardous and difficult Long Ride. Please visit his website for further information: www.r4e.org
Here is a link to a story by the famous Washington-based Pakistani journalist, Khalid Hasan, which was published shortly before Steve set off: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_23-10-2004_pg7_12
Please click here to read a story in the American equestrian magazine, Trail Blazer:
Steve has started his journey!!
Click on pictures to enlarge the photographs sent to us by Simone Carmigniani.
8th November 2004
After months of preparation, Steve has finally set off on his journey from Delhi to Beijing. He has just sent the following email to The Long Riders' Guild:
"After several false starts I left Delhi from the Red Fort. Aaj Tak were there, as were UNI and India TV amongst a few others.
This is just a quick email to let you all know that I am well and the horse is fine.
I am now well on the road past Sonipat in a small village called Murthal. The going has been good so far. I have spent most of the time getting used to Rosie and riding a horse in such intense conditions. Its been super important to make sure she rides correctly and there are no problems with her. We’ve only been covering about 20 kms a day in a challenging environment where everyone (even buses) are stopping to stare and enquire at the strange sight before them"
22nd November 2004
"After a turbulent beginning I finally set off from Red Fort in Delhi, I was followed by Aaj tak (a popular Hindi television channel) as I left Delhi. The butterflies were churning as I rode up the start of the GT ROAD on my way to Amritsar. Things have gone well, and we have got a lot of good footage for the documentary. I hope to replicate that in Pakistan.
Generally the horse is well, but rather tired after all the travelling. We have had contacts with dancing bears, stays in remote Shiv temples and I recently gave a speech on education at Thol Secondary School. Now I am in Ludiana in the Punjab.
Now I am approximately 170kms only from the border with neighbouring Pakistan, and I can’t wait to enter. I unfortunately do not have a horse to ride over with, since a permit was not granted by the Indian Government, (though the horse passed all the quarantine tests).
I will be arriving a day later than I had stated earlier on the 28th November 2004. I have had a steep learning curve with Rosie this past few weeks and I will be really sad to leave her at the border."
We wish you the very best of luck, Steve, in finding a good home for Rosie and a good new horse for your continuing journey.
Thanks to the Brooke Hospital for Animals in Pakistan, Steve is the proud owner of two new horses. Rosie is safely stationed on a farm outside of Amritsar, India thanks to help from Dr. Sharma and Guldeep. In an email to The Guild, Steve wrote: "I arrived across the border (after initially being turned away by the BSF (Border Security Force) with my horse) from India on 01 December, and since then I have been in Lahore planning the next stage of my ride. My next destination is Gilgit in the far North of Pakistan which is cold but savagely beautiful. I am taking my time to reach there and will probably not leave Lahore until about 10 Jan 05. Pakistan is a fantastic country which is subject to much speculation in the West, but one that warms the heart almost every day."
|Here are links to some media
Click on either picture to enlarge photographs of Steve's new horses.
"Dear Long Riders Guild,
A four-legged surprise
Through a strange twist I am delighted to be the first to tell you that Rosie is the proud mother of a foal and nobody is more surprised than I. How could that be? The gestation period for a mare is over 11 months so that would mean that I rode a pregnant mare all the way through India from Delhi. This also means that the fellow who’d sold me her originally lied when we asked him if she was pregnant. Of course when I first learnt all this news I was in Pakistan and it wasn’t until I hurriedly arrived in India several days later that the full story emerged.
After I left India, Dr. A. K. Sharma was my sole contact as far as Rosie was concerned. Not only did he make my ride through India much easier but he also agreed to watch Rosie for me whilst I was away in Pakistan. We had originally needed Rosie later on and Dr. Sharma knew the perfect chap near Amritsar (not far from the Pakistan border), who could look after her.
Unfortunately Rosie’s tale just proves what a remarkable animal she was. The chap from Amritsar didn’t care for Rosie very well and after two months he contacted Dr. Sharma to make other arrangements for her. She was transported down to Fatehabad (about 200kms north of Delhi) where she arrived in a poor state. Guldeep hadn’t fed her properly or treated her with the respect she deserved and she needed a lot of care and attention. Something her new owner carer at Fatehabad gave in spades. Balbir Nat was a local saint who thereafter gave Rosie regular feeds, her own shelter and plenty of attention. But she still had one huge surprise to come. Six weeks ago Dr. Sharma received a phone call to say that Rosie was pregnant and in the wee small hours two weeks later she gave birth to a healthy foal. They were both given the mandatory medical injections (e.g. Tetanus) and I rushed to India to hear the above story in person.
But the story doesn’t end there. As far as I know when I left India I was one of the first people to ever try to take a horse from India to Pakistan. So imagine my surprise when I re-entered India and the first person I should meet (actually on the border) was another person trying to take a horse into Pakistan. A beautiful black Marwari horse called Danya to be exact. Fate plays in mysterious ways and it couldn’t have been an accident that we just met. Since I couldn’t take my mare into Pakistan, it would be great if I could help another person to do it. The girl I met was called Simran and she also had a lot of people trying for her as I had had. She originally worked for the Maharaja of Jaipur on a horse farm at his estate in Rajesthan. The stallion she was trying to export was one of his personal favourites and a German diplomat by the name of Claus wanted to buy him and keep him on a friend’s estate in Pakistan. Things seemed to be cracking along nicely. Through Claus’ connections, Pakistan had given full permission to allow Danya to enter but then disaster struck. At the last minute the good old Indian Government refused to allow Danya to exit the country and told Simran that she’d need an export license to do so. That meant another ten days in Delhi and a whole heap of good luck. But then as luck would have it she met me, who’d been through the whole bureaucratic mess 6 months earlier. I gave her all the telephone numbers and advice she’d need to start the procedure and told her to cross her fingers. Although I don’t hold much confidence that she’ll succeed, she does have the Maharaja of Jaipur and a respected German diplomat working for her. Unfortunately since that time I haven’t heard from Simran but if I do I’ll let the Guild know.
Seeing Rosie after five months was a great experience. Although she was still rather thin, she still seemed to remember me and she was very protective of her foal. He’d been born ten days earlier and was still all legs as he staggered around his pen. He clung like a magnet to Rosie’s side when I approached and Rosie gave me a warning grunt if I got too close.
The next day there was a horse fair just up the road at Sirsar (about 40kms from where Rosie was stabled). Sirsar was the original place that I’d bought Rosie from eight months ago and it seemed as if history was taking me full circle. The journey to the fair was a bumpy one and I was glad we’d left the foal behind. Especially since when we arrived another foal had broken its leg making the same journey we just had.
Horses were strewn everywhere and the fair had all the feel of the typical chaos of an Indian market. Whilst most horses were lined up under the cool shade of nearby trees, others were paraded around or made to do stupid dances in the middle of crowds of slack-jawed locals.
Rosie received a mixed reception when we arrived. Some people were interested, others weren’t. Some were interested in the horse, whilst most cared more about the fact that there was an Englishman selling one and right on their doorstop. Most thought the mare came from England but the truth about Rosie slowly revealed itself as the day wore on. In an Indian town everybody knows everybody else and it wasn’t long before I’d met each of Rosie’s three previous owners. All except Tashneem Singh, the unconscionable fellow who’d originally lied about Rosie in the first place and who also knew that I would at the fair today.
Rosie was originally bought in Rajesthan for 17,000Rs. She changed hands several times around Sirsar and in fact she wasn’t a popular mare. During the seven years she’d been here she’d only had two foals, because of a problem with miscarriages. Thereafter most people didn’t take an interest in her, but did take an interest in telling me how much I’d been ripped off! I did everything I could to sell her including showing prospective buyers newspaper clippings of Rosie’s record breaking trip across India. At the end of the day though Rosie was thin and not really in the mood for dancing to yokels with drums. With the help of Dr. Sharma (who’d attended the event as a guest-speaker), we finally arranged a kind of auction for the mare. Sadly though, although her price quickly climbed, it wasn’t because of her qualities, it was because an Englishman had owned her. Each man competed to outbid the other simply because he didn’t like the thought of his neighbour actually owning Rosie. It was a child’s game but finally there was a happy ending.
Balbir Nat, (the local saint), who’d cared for Rosie for the past 4 months, finally topped the bidding at half the price I’d first paid for her. But that was immaterial. As far as I was concerned she was worth all the money and more for making the journey she’d been asked and still giving birth to a healthy foal afterwards. Rosie now has a good home with someone that I know and hopefully can trust.
In four weeks time I’ll be finally leaving Lahore with two Afghani horses bound for China. Rohan and Griffin’s training is currently going well and everything is looking ‘rosie’ for the future. I’ll be in touch with the Guild shortly.
All the best,
P.S. I've included a picture of the saddle that I bought from Galaxy Exports. I'm sorry its taken quite a long time in coming but the saddle has been truly amazing surviving even the toughest tests in India and surely more to come on the road to China.
After a long and rather worrying silence, Steve has just sent the following email to The Guild:
Dear Long Riders Guild,
The good news is that I have begun my ride through Pakistan. The bad news is that it couldn’t have been at a worst time for the country. The ride began on the 03rd October 2005 from a gypsy school in Lahore, Pakistan. I’ve been on the road now for seven weeks. A period of turmoil, sadness and hard decisions that has changed the nature of the country I am now riding through forever.
I don’t think anybody can describe such devastation or personal loss that has been suffered here or the remarkable manner in which the people have just got on with their lives. In the middle of a question and answer round at a local school in the Punjab my Pack horse, Kabul, suddenly went hysterical and started pacing the compound neighing for all her worth. The world changed as stability give way to chaos. The ground could no longer be taken for granted as together with the girls I crouched low on the ground waiting for it to pass. In Gujranwala (about 400kms from the Epicentre) the quake felt only like a tremor and it was only a few days late that the full extent of the terror became known. The same tremor that barely rocked our school, flattened hundreds of thousands of homes (including 4500 schools) and killed almost 90,000 people. This is the area I will shortly be passing through.
|I now have two mares which I bought in Peshawar with the help of the same veterinarian team that had helped buy my last two. I had to sell Rohan and Griffin back in June as they’d become unmanageable in the heat and not practical to keep. Both mares are Afghani stock. Kabul is from Mazar-e Sherif in Northern Afghanistan and has lived most of her past ten years in the high surrounding mountain valleys. She has never seen a tractor or any major traffic before but she totally adapted to the bizarre new environment of Pakistan’s busy GT road. My other mare, Sparks, is an ex-cart horse from Peshawar. Yet the odd thing is that she’s been the most problematic. She is the most frightened by traffic and I suspect that her previous owner used to beat her as she is especially sensitive around her back end.|
The shape of my ride through Pakistan now has many sides. I am filming a documentary with Pakistan State Television, promoting schools throughout my route and working out the logistics of coping with the Earthquake and the encroaching Winter. I’ve had encounters with large Punjabi mud wrestler, visited some of the holiest Mazars in the country but the Earthquake has overshadowed everything and filled me with indecision over the next course of action. I did spend nine days in the Earthquake areas and the overwhelming need was for shelter, warmth and food. It still is. Yet, the majority of people also wanted to return life to normal and local teachers were pushing to get schools set up again. The focus of my ride is now still on education and the need to set up schools has never been greater. Parents want to get their kids from under their feet and back to school so that life can retain some degree of normalcy and they can get on returning it to such.
The biggest problem now is the coming winter. Through fate I met the famous Mughal Saddlers company. A family that have been making saddles for royalty for the past 200 years. Indeed recently they have even presented tack to the rulers of Bahrain and Jordan as well as President Bush during his last visit to Pakistan! Kabul and Sparks are now fitted with the best blankets and tack Pakistan can offer but it’s not going to be enough. We are now 56kms North of Islamabad and 800kms from the China border and are as ready as can be. I will update the Guild soon.
"I have arrived safely in Kashgar where they've also been celebrating Eid-ul Adha, although much more subdued than in Pakistan. The streets here were relatively quiet this morning as people only partied in the home. Of course there were still several persons profiteering from the sale of sheep in the bazaar, not far from the Id Kah Masjid.
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