Unlike highly-paid human athletes, the horse has no way to object when he finds himself alone in an ethical vacuum. His biological integrity is sacrificed on the altar of the human's greed for money and fame.
This is why the LRG maintains what is believed to be the strictest set of equestrian ethical guidelines known.
Such a rigid standard is one reason Tod “Doc” Mishler chose to remain out of touch with the Long Riders’ Guild for more than a decade; i.e. he was almost certainly worried that if the Guild had detected the numerous reports of equine abuse connected to his journey through the United States, the Guild would have invoked an immediate investigation and/or would have suggested his arrest.
Mishler’s unprecedented legal trouble began in July 2016 when a concerned American citizen informed the Guild that the Long Rider had been arrested in New York after he rode one horse while leading another across the Staten Island Bridge linking New Jersey and New York.
|Mishler boldly crossed the busy bridge during morning rush hour traffic.|
When officers from the New York Police Department responded, they initially issued Mishler a court summons for blocking traffic and trespassing. Then the officers discovered that both of Mishler’s horses were suffering from abuse.
|His pack horse, Hope, had bloody open sores after only three days travel. She had been rubbed raw from the halter on her neck and head|
It was later discovered that Mishler needlessly subjected his pack horses (plural) to potential injury by repeatedly breaking one of the fundamental rules of safe equestrian travel. By tying his pack horse to his riding horse, he subjected the animal to severe friction caused by the unrelenting pressure of the halter. Such a wound is avoidable. There are no mitigating circumstances involving this decision. It is a rule which is as basic to safe equestrian travel as requiring a motorist to keep both hands on the steering wheel.
The pack horse was also lame in her right leg from an untreated infected injury.
Police officers also discovered that Mishler’s riding horse Charity was underweight and had oozing pressure sores on her torso.
|Mishler was arrested and charged with torturing and injuring his animals.|
Mishler pleaded not guilty to all charges. Officials said that if Mishler was found guilty he would face civil forfeiture of his horses and could be fined $10,000.
Yet the incident in New York turned out to be the tip of an iceberg of cruelty. Thanks to the help of an alarmed public, Mishler’s arrest began to reveal links in a chain of equine criminality that zigzagged across an unsuspecting nation.
With the help of the internet, a group of concerned Americans had begun documenting how Mishler had starved, injured and abused a number of horses during a meandering journey that began in Montana in 2003 and came to a crashing conclusion in New York thirteen years later.
A Hidden History
This investigation revealed that the Montana chapter of Back Country Horsemen had ejected Mishler on the grounds of horse abuse, prior to starting his travels. Such evidence would have disallowed Mishler from being admitted as a Member of the Long Riders’ Guild but this vital fact was hidden from the public.
This means that Mishler was thrown out of the Montana BCH group, on charges of horse abuse, and then set off on a multi-year, multi-state journey, one which resulted in horses being starved, dehydrated, injured, and left behind, as and when the authorities investigated him.
It also means that Mishler is the only person in history to have been ejected from the LRG and BCH on charges of horse abuse.
A Pattern of Deceit
After his departure from Montana, Mishler repeatedly neglected the basic welfare of his horses, failed to feed them adequately, on occasion left them unattended in unsafe surroundings, repeatedly and needlessly rode them into extremely hazardous surroundings and placed his desire for publicity above the needs of the animals.
Modern Long Riders avoid putting their horses at risk by needlessly riding them into cities infested with heavy traffic,
Yet Mishler intentionally rode into large cities so as to attract attention, which in turn resulted in curiosity from the press and generosity from the public, including free meals, accommodations, etc.
Mishler rode through San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Cleveland, Madison, Atlanta, Charleston and New York, to name just a few.
|Doc Mishler chooses to ride alongside a busy Oregon highway during rush hour, 2012.|
|Mishler was filmed riding alongside a freeway in Atlanta, Georgia on March 19, 2015|
Not only did Mishler put his horses at risk, he repeatedly endangered the lives of the public. Therefore, what is fundamentally in question is not how far Mishler rode but where he deliberately chose to ride. No amount of high mileage should be allowed to outweigh this crass violation of public safety and this blatant disregard for basic equestrian travel safety.
Mishler is an exception for a number of negative reasons, one of which includes his wilful and repeated violation of the law in states across the nation.
The Horse Travel Handbook warns travellers, “As Long Riders have learned, things can get very bad, very quickly, on a bridge. Never let a bridge surprise you! So what’s the first thing you check? You give a thought to discovering if it is legal to take your horse over.”
Yet Mishler flouted this rule, broke the law, needlessly endangered his horses, and imperilled the lives of passing drivers, by riding across bridges in at least three states.
The wilful crossing of bridges in California and South Carolina proved that Mishler chose to take his horses across these highly dangerous motorways and that his entry into New York, via a bridge, was designed to generate publicity and profit.
As an aside, even though there were signs saying it was illegal to ride across the three-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge in 2013, Mishler chose to make that crossing early on New Year’s Day, so as to take the authorities by surprise. He made it across without being arrested. But the Guild has been told that additional warning signs were erected after the Mishler incident.
|Mishler crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in California on New Years Day 2013.|
|Mishler crossing the Ravenel bridge - Charleston South Carolina - April 20 2016.|
Christians and Children
Mishler justified this journey by telling the public and the press that he was raising money to feed hungry children. He also pretended to be a doctor of philosophy.
But Maple Ridge Pastor Malcolm Johnson
said Mishler had been dismissed from that religious community in 2011 because of
an unspecified “misuse of trust.”
“Mishler is a con artist and is heading on the way to being a crackpot,” Johnson said.
|Thanks to the money donated by trusting Americans, Mishler moved from one unsuspecting community to another.|
Instead of spending time in church, it was discovered that Mishler had a habit of frequenting saloons.
|Mishler's horses were photographed tied up in the sun outside an Arizona pub. He was detained and questioned by Phoenix police but allowed to depart.|
But another stop for a drink had more serious repercussions.
|Mishler's horses tied up outside a liquor store in Madison, Wisconsin.|
In August 2011 police in Madison, Wisconsin observed horses tied up outside a local liquor store. The owner was described as a “75-year-old itinerant evangelist.”
An inspection of Mishler’s horses revealed that the animals were underweight and suffering from dehydration, heat stress and open sores. Mishler was charged with animal neglect, a misdemeanour. His mug shot was taken but he was not jailed or arrested. Instead he was allowed to go free.
The authorities in Madison did not realize that Mishler was perpetrating a multi-state case of equestrian travel abuse. They had no way of knowing that Mishler had been abusing horses in many states but moving on without delay so as to evade arrest or embarrassment.
Starved, Thirsty and Neglected
Thomas Lambie was a Christian minister and a courageous Long Rider who rode across Abyssinia in 1919. He warned, “No one who mistreats a horse is fit to own one. The Lord’s work shouldn’t be a horse’s burden.”
Mishler’s religious belief entitled him to carry no food or water for his animals. He told the press that he relied on 'God to Provide' for the horses.
As a result, an emergency rescue had to be carried out for one of Mishler's horses. The horse, which was covered in open wounds, had fallen into a ditch.
|After being rescued by firemen, the horse was found to be starving and was so weak it had been reduced to eating pine needles.|
Starvation, dehydration, oozing saddle sores, improper shoeing, open leg sores, halter burns caused by friction, the list of crimes committed against horses nation-wide was unprecedented but Mishler continued to evade attempts to stop his travels.
On Trial At Last
The “Stop Doc Mishler” campaign used Facebook to find Americans across the nation who had eyewitness evidence about the unethical rider.
One of Mishler’s horses shows signs of severe malnutrition.
In addition, the Long Riders’ Guild provided evidence to the New York City Attorney’s office and to Detective Ray Wood, of the Richmond County District Attorneys Office Animal Cruelty Bureau.
Mishler was brought to trial in March, 2017.
According to law enforcement agents, Mishler’s two horses had been evaluated by two independent veterinarians who specialize in equine care. After the evaluation, both doctors determined that the horses were victims of neglect.
At the trial the veterinarian who had treated Mishler’s pack horse reported her findings to the jury.
“When the mare was brought to us we removed 103 ticks from her body (an exact number because it was considered evidence). Her fetlocks were bleeding and oozing maggots. Her halter was so embedded into her head that the skin was healing over it. She had a fever of 103 degrees. If you even touched her anywhere on her body even with a soft brush she would squeal in pain. She was so severely dehydrated that we had to ration her water intake. The minute you would fill a 5 gallon bucket she would drink it bone dry. When she wasn't eating or drinking she lay there for five days straight. She even ate her hay lying down.”
In addition NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said, “We looked at both horses. They had serious open sores and dehydration as well as malnutrition.”
As a result of the evidence, Mishler was convicted. He was barred from owning horses in New York State for two years. He forfeited ownership of his horses to an equine charity.
|Mishler pleads guilty in New York.|
In a statement, District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, "When Mr. Mishler first rode into Staten Island, his two horses, Hope and Charity, suffered from painful bleeding sores and showed serious signs of dehydration. I am proud to say that today both of these horses are fully recovered and have been placed under the care of trained professionals at facilities capable of meeting their everyday needs."
CuChullaine O'Reilly, Founder of the Long Riders’ Guild, issued the following statement to the American public.
"There are few rules connected to belonging to the Guild but those rules are crystal clear, the first of which is that the traveller never abuses his horse. There is ample proof that Mishler has repeatedly neglected his horses.
Moreover, the Guild is committed to reassuring the public that those genuine equestrian travellers known as Long Riders can be trusted. The public is rightfully outraged at the discovery that horses have been abused by Mishler in many states and that Christianity has been used as an excuse for panhandling.
The LRG website states that the Guild reserves the right to expel any member who is discovered to have intentionally neglected his or her horse(s).
I am writing to inform you that all trace of Tod “Doc” Mishler has been removed from the Guild website and that he is no longer listed as a Member of this organization."
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