The Long Riders' Guild

2016 - News!

Argentina’s Astonishing “Lost” Long Rider

Millions of people ride horses. Only a few become Long Riders. What is truly rare is to discover a "lost" Long Rider of great historical importance. During his recent journey across Argentina, Agustín María Mayer made such a discovery. While riding through the small town of Bolivar, he was told about Marcelino Soulé (right). To understand the significance of that Argentine Long Rider you must first appreciate the man who inspired him.

In 1925 Aimé Tschiffely set out to ride 10,000 miles alone from Buenos Aires to New York City. For the next three years the Swiss Long Rider and his two Criollo geldings, Mancha and Gato, survived a litany of hardships unequalled in equestrian travel. Tschiffely's original plan was to ride from Buenos Aires to California, then across the USA to the Atlantic. Yet once he crossed into America Tschiffely quickly changed his mind when the driver of a car deliberately hit him and Mancha. Tschiffely felt that the American drivers were so dangerous that he shortened his journey and turned his back on California. Instead, Tschiffely rode to Washington DC and then on to New York.
For nearly a century it has been a common belief that Tschiffely's original plan was never completed. We now know that Marcelino Soulé rode from South America to North America - and then east to west across the United States, making it one of the most important equestrian journeys of the 20th century!

The story of Soulé's ride has been rescued from the shadows by two ardent Argentines. Senor Santos Vega preserved a copy of Soulé’s rare book, "Cutting the Continent." And historian Matias Gabriel Terrara has spent years collecting information and photos that document Marcelino Soulé's journey.

Thanks to their work, the Guild has confirmed that Soulé began his ride in his hometown of Bolivar on July 27, 1938. More than a thousand people gathered in the plaza to say goodbye to the Long Rider and his Criollo horses, Argentino and Bolivar. The journey went well until the trio arrived in Columbia, where Soulé became critically ill with malaria. After being hospitalized for 21 days, he discovered that his horse Bolivar had died. Refusing to quit, Soulé continued north. He is supposed to have swum across the Panama Canal with his horse. In Mexico he was attacked by bandits and Argentino was stolen. Having obtained another mount, the determined traveller continued. He arrived in Washington DC on February 9, 1941, met President Franklin Roosevelt, and then rode on to New York City. After resting, Soulé rode to Chicago and then on to San Francisco. He died at the age of 44 in a car accident in Argentina.

Matias Gabriel Terrara has created an extensive website which provides details about Soulé’s remarkable journey. The Guild would like to thank Matias and Senor Vega for ensuring that the memory of this great Argentine Long Rider was preserved for posterity.

 

 

 

 

Long Rider Creates Library on the Hoof

When Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka (top) set off in 2014 on the Equine Equator Expedition he had no idea that his journey across Indonesia would inspire the creation of a horse-powered book delivery system. Nirwan made his journey with the aid of unique horses. He rode a purebred Sandalwood pony, one of the indigenous equines from Sumba Island. A larger KPI (Kuda Pacu Indonesia) horse carried the Canadian adjustable pack saddle endorsed by the Guild.

Having studied Indonesia’s equestrian history, Nirwan wrote, “The great contribution of the horse came about not merely because of its capacity to carry the weight of people and bring them together, but also to simultaneously bridge diverse thinking and imaginations.”

During his ride Nirwan was impressed by the many enthusiastic children he met.

“The problem was that the children did not posses adequate knowledge about their community or history. Because they didn't understand their roots their future was in doubt. That's why I decided to find a local partner to help me organize a mobile library that would provide good books for children.”

Nirwan enlisted the help of Ridwan Sururi (bottom), who lives in the village of Serang, in the Purbalingga region of Java island. With the aid of a white pony named Luna, the Kudapustaka (Horse-Library) was launched and books began to be delivered to far flung villages. Ridwan visits schools on a weekly basis, where local children can borrow the books Nirwan has contributed to the free library. If you would like to donate books to the Indonesian Horse Library please contact the Guild for details.

 

Journey to the End of the Earth

In 2012, inspired by writer/adventurer Aimé Tschiffely’s 1925 long ride from Buenos Aires to Washington, D.C., Filipe Leite set out from Calgary, Canada and rode 16,000 kilometres (9,940 miles) to his native Brazil. The ”Journey Across the Americas” lasted two years and required him to cross ten countries.

“In the months following my welcome home and stepping down from the saddle, it became evident that I was not the same boy who had departed Calgary. Seeing the world at 4 km/h had opened my eyes to the effects of climate change, to drug wars, loss of habitat, economic strife and the role of the old ways in a modern world. I discovered the Earth is full of curious, hopeful and helpful beings. And most importantly, I realized I had become a 28-year-old nomadic spirit who could no longer stay still.”

Filipe has now departed on a “Journey to the End of the Earth.”

He plans to spend the next year riding 8.000 kilometres (5,000 miles) across Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and on to the tip of Patagonia.  During the ride Filipe will be raising funds for the Barretos Children’s Cancer Hospital.

Hoofing it on the Pacific Crest Trail

Gillian Larson (right) rode her mare, Shyla, 4,286 kilometres (2,663 miles) from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to Canada. The experienced Long Rider, who is currently making her second journey along the PCT, wants to contribute to the success of others who are hoping to experience the PCT on horseback by gathering information for a guidebook.

“I learned a lot on my first journey, and I hope to put that knowledge to good use on this next ride.  Once again, Shyla will be my main riding horse, while her son Takoda takes on the packing duties,” Gillian wrote.

Meanwhile, prior to her departure, Gillian wrote a special “how to” article for the Guild. It explains the difficulties encountered by Long Riders who travel on this popular trail.

Preparing for a trek on the BNT

Preston Stroud and Kathryn Holzberger set off in May, 2014 to ride the length of Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. They spent nineteen months travelling 5,330 kilometres (3,311 miles) from Cooktown to Healesville.

“We have been privileged to experience some of what our amazing country has to offer – from the clear, blue, sunny skies of Queensland to the frigid winds of the high country of New South Wales and Victoria, the dry desperation of drought to an abundance of water and feed,” Kathryn wrote.

In response to a request from the Guild, Kathryn has composed a special travel guide designed to educate would-be equestrian travellers who plan to ride along this challenging trail.

“The biggest lesson that we have learnt on the BNT is to plan and plan for your plans to change! Being flexible and being able to change your plans is so important.”

Courage and Determination Overcome Adversity

The Long Riders’ Guild is accustomed to dealing with brave men and women. However some equestrian journeys involve circumstances that force us to reconsider our previous definition of “bravery.” Such an example is connected to the newest Member of the Guild, Alina Grace Dudding (right).

Having grown up in Alaska, Alina was an experienced camper who knew her planned journey along the rugged Pacific Crest Trail would prove difficult. The PCT winds 4,200 kilometres (2,650 miles) from its southern terminus near Mexico to its northern terminus in Canada. It twists and turns through California, Oregon and Washington, forcing the traveller to ride atop the spine of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Along the way travellers can expect to see the glories of Nature; but food, shelter and help are often far away.

Jon Dudding, father of the Long Rider, wrote to the Guild to say, “Many thru hikers think that one has it easy because you are riding a horse. They have no idea of what that really means in terms of meeting the needs of not only yourself but your horse for feed and water and everything else.”

The preparation which Alina made was very commendable and her system of keeping re-supplied was excellent. Yet a tough trail like the PCT puts even the best laid plans to the test. After having nearly completed the journey, Alina and her horse Valentino’s progress was blocked by a heavy snow fall. In a demonstration of incredible determination, Alina packed a snow shovel on her backpack and swung into the saddle. What occurred next is surely one of the most remarkable horse adventures in modern times.

It took Alina and Valentino a month to do the last sixty miles. Along the way they survived freezing weather, deep snow and travelled along a snowy cliff. In her blog Alina wrote how after months of anticipation, the tired Long Rider finally reached the end of the trail in the pitch dark.

“This was definitely not the ending I’d been picturing for the previous six months! I had imagined how I would react when I saw the monument but it was surprisingly anticlimactic,” Alina recalled.

But she had done it. As a result of this life-changing experience, Alina is the first woman to twice ride the length of the Pacific Crest Trail solo.

Welcome to the Guild, Long Rider!

 

 

 

Long Rider Mountain Man Guides German Documentary Across America

Andreas Wagner, a documentary film maker working for German/French public broadcaster Arte Television, contacted the Guild in 2014 with an unusual request.

“I am currently in preproduction for a five-part documentary series on the North American Prairies and Great Plains. Our idea at this stage: Telling the stories of people, nature and history alongside the Great Plains Trail. For this purpose I want to ask the Guild for help in finding the ideal protagonist: a Long Rider who would dare to cross this trail from the Canadian border to Texas on horseback. More precisely we are looking for a 21st century trapper and passionate horseman with a strong personal connection to the landscapes of the US, someone who has devoted his life to exploring and preserving this unique part of North America.”

The Guild didn’t hesitate to recommend Hawk Hurst (right) as the most suitably qualified equestrian traveller for this unique project. In addition to having made two journeys across the western United States, Hawk is an expert in the history and techniques of the American Mountain Man.

In the company of German actress Marie Bäumer, Hawk travelled from the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico to Montana. The five part documentary Zwei im Wilden Western (Two in the Wild West) is now available on line.

French Long Rider maps route across Patagonia

The Guild would like to welcome new Member Charlotte Simsar, who was part of the team that created an equestrian route across southern Argentina.

New Film Recounts Ride Across Czech Republic

There are plenty of headlines describing the political turmoil which is currently causing tension in Europe. That is why a new film by Czech Long Rider Dalibor Balut comes as such a pleasant surprise. In the company of his mare, Sheila (right), Dalibor made a thousand mile journey to the four corners of his country. Though he travelled alone, Dalibor filmed his journey. The resulting movie, which is set to inspiring music, depicts a beautiful country populated by a hospitable people.

Long Rider Lights the way to Safety

William Reddaway undertook a historic 4,200 kilometre (2,600 miles) journey in 2013 when he visited 30 cathedrals and abbeys throughout Great Britain. Strider’s Ride Around England documents this unique journey. William is one of the hundreds of Long Riders who contributed valuable information to the forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration. One of William’s observations concerned attaching small flashing lights to the saddlebags. This tip was deemed so important that it is being shared without delay, so as to enhance the safety of other equestrian travellers.

The English Long Rider wrote, “I am attaching two photos showing an example of my lights. There are dozens of possible lights used by cyclists here in Great Britain, chiefly not to enable them to see but to make sure that motorists notice them. I chose some very light little ones that came in either white or red. These pictures are of a white one. I had a small loop of canvas on each saddlebag and they fixed on to that with an elastic loop on the light. They could be set to continuous light or flashing. On the roads here getting motorists to NOTICE a horse and rider is really important. Hence the yellow hi-viz vest I wore and the use of these lights. I used the lights only when on the road when light conditions were poor and I wanted us to stand out. They are not very bright in good light. In addition to getting Strider and I noticed, I reckoned that if we were wiped out by a vehicle there would be plenty to support a case that the driver was totally negligent since we were very visible! In fact if you are going to be in places where drivers really would not expect a horse and rider then you do owe it to people to stand out and catch their eye quickly.”

Founding Member Turns 80 in the Saddle

English Long Rider Robin Hanbury-Tenison has packed a lot of life into his 80 years. He made the first land crossing of South America at its widest point, led twenty-four expeditions, was awarded the Patron's Gold Medal by the Royal Geographical Society and was hailed by The Sunday Times as "the greatest explorer of the past twenty years."  When he wasn't in a jungle, Robin was turning his hand to helping others. He is President and co-founder of Survival International, a charity which helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

While his exploits as an explorer and social reformer are important, Robin’s contribution to equestrian travel is unique. Along with his wife, Louella, Robin is a Founding Member of the Guild. Together the Hanbury-Tenisons made equestrian journeys in Albania, China, France, New Zealand and Spain. Robin recounted their equestrian adventures in an excellent series of books published by the Long Riders’ Guild Press. The Hanbury-Tenisons first journey occurred in 1984, when they rode two Camargue horses across France. To mark his 80th birthday, Robin and Louella rode across Scotland through the Great Glen from Inverness to Fort William.

England Opens Equestrian Trail for Wheelchair Travellers

In 2007 Simon Mulholland (left) surprised the equestrian world when he revealed his remarkable “Saddle Chariot.” The light-weight chariot was easily pulled by a small pony but proved its strength when the British inventor used it to travel the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Simon believed the chariot presented a potential employment for the many ponies in Great Britain.

The chariot’s creator also realized there was another equally exciting potential connected to his original concept. Further experimentation saw the development of the Ibex chariot. This revolutionary equestrian transport allowed people in wheelchairs to venture into the outdoors.

What began as an act of individual liberation has since swelled into an exciting new type of equestrian travel. Working with Simon, the South Downs Way National Park has become the first park in Great Britain to construct an equestrian trail that can be travelled by people in wheelchairs. The 100 mile long trail, which stretches from Winchester to Beachy Head, is the first equestrian trail of its kind in the world that is fully wheelchair accessible.

“It’s very exciting to be able to see people able to enjoy everything that makes the South Downs special for the first time,” says Simon. “People will be able to turn up, have a go and leave again without leaving any trace on the protected landscape. They don’t even have to get out of their wheelchairs, which some people just aren’t able to do. This is just the start of my aim to make the whole UK countryside inclusive and accessible to all.”

 

 

 

 

Exciting Equestrian Trail Crosses Canadian Rockies

In an increasingly urbanized environment, the development of a national equestrian trail is of international importance; especially when the trail takes Long Riders through some of the world’s most beautiful mountains.

It took many years of dedicated work for Canada’s Great Divide Trail (GDT) to become a reality. The Girl Guides of Canada first proposed the idea of such a trail in 1966. Part of the route, which closely follows the Great Divide between British Columbia and Alberta, was hiked by University of Calgary students in 1974. In the intervening years the GDT, which passes through five National Parks, four wilderness areas and five forest districts, developed into a 1,200 kilometre (745 miles) long trail that begins in Waterton Lakes National Park at the Canada-US border (where it connects with the Continental Divide Trail) and ends in Kakwa Provincial Park north of Jasper National Park.

With the creation of this new Canadian equestrian trail, it is possible for a Long Rider to begin a journey at the Mexican border, cross the USA via the CDT – and then continue north along the GDT. That would create a combined equestrian journey totalling 6,063 kilometres (3,700 miles) of wilderness riding.

In response to the Guild’s request for information, Brad Vaillancourt, President of the Great Divide Trail Association, wrote, “Much of the Great Divide Trail (approx 50% or 600 km) is designed for both hiking and equestrian use, but some sections of the GDT Hiking Route are not passable to horses due to incompatible terrain or restrictions imposed by the National Parks, hence the development of the Great Divide Alternate Horse Route.”

The Great Divide Alternate Horse Route follows the hiking trail where possible and deviates where horses cannot travel, to create a 1063 kilometre (660 miles) contiguous equestrian route. The map (right) shows the route intended for equestrian travellers. Yet Brad warned that no Long Riders have explored the GDT yet.

“As this route was recently developed, to my knowledge no one has ridden the entire route in a single trip, and because of this, logistical details such as grazing areas and campgrounds have yet to be completely figured out.  The one or two week sections of trail north of Waterton and north of Jasper are the most commonly ridden sections of the GDT.”

The official GDT website does not yet contain any equestrian travel information. However the GDTA works closely with the Southern Alberta Trail Riders Association and the Back Country Horsemen of British Columbia. Both groups actively ride sections of the GDT every year and are willing to share their wealth of horse-related information.

July to September are considered the best months to ride along the trail in the Canadian Rockies. Long Riders should remember that fallen trees will always be a challenge on a long-distance trail but conditions are often better later in the season. The GDT definitely passes through bear and moose territory so equestrian users should be prepared to travel safely in those areas.

Brad wrote, “The Alternate Horse Route is new and needs to be truth-tested by equestrian users.” But he offered this encouraging advice.

“If the Long Riders’ Guild is interested in exploring the Great Divide Alternate Horse Route and perhaps being the first to ride its entire length, let me know and we can assist you with trip-planning. Feel free to send any additional questions regarding the GDT to this email address and we will do our best to respond. greatdividetrail@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoofprints Across Patagonia Trail

Three new Long Riders, Charlotte Simsar, Capucine Lelièvre and Charlotte Vandeputte, have provided the Guild with a map which documents their route across Argentina. Entitled the “Hoofprints Across Patagonia Trail,” the route begins at San Carlos de Bariloche and concludes 900 kilometres (550 miles) later at Perito Moreno. Riding through the mountains and pampas of Argentina provided what Charlotte Simsar described as “an intense adventure.” Prior to departure, the travellers studied with French Long Rider Stephane Bigo. At the conclusion of their journey, they were greeted by Argentina Long Rider Benjamin Reynal. Details of the new route are available on the Long Riders’ website

Long Rider Environmental Champion Passes Away

The Guild regrets to report the death of William Waterway. From January 1976 to October 1977 he undertook a historic equestrian journey in the United States. Beginning in San Diego, California the young man ended his journey in Calais, Maine, after riding 7,500 miles. William’s mission was to promote what he called “The Ride for Nature.” The writer and environmentalist had a lifelong passion to promote clean water around the world. After he became a Member of the Guild in early 2015, William wrote, “I am most honoured to join such an illustrious group of equestrians. I much enjoyed reading the stories of my fellow Long Rider brothers and sisters. As I read their brief bios, I now know that, thanks to your efforts - our stories will continue to live.”

Across Russia on a Cossack Stallion

A new book recounts how Basha O’Reilly, one of the Founders of the Long Riders’ Guild, made a 2,500 mile journey from Russia to England.

Bandits and Bureaucrats” unfolds in 1995 when a swirling political landscape allowed the author to travel through a recently off-limits country. What she found was a nation in unexpected transition. Emerging from decades of brutal governance, for a brief moment in time Russia’s rules were no longer enforced and a rare opportunity existed to cross the secretive nation on horseback.

The result is a remarkable story of a woman’s transformation and the magnificent Cossack stallion that went on to become the symbol of the international Long Riders' Guild.

Riding in the Hoofprints of Jan Žižka

In 2015 Dalibor Balut made the first modern ride to all corners of his native Czech Republic. The journey took him along the borders of Poland. Germany, Austria and Slovakia. In the first equestrian travel article in the Czech language, Dalibor recounts how his journey took him on the route previously ridden by Jan Žižka (right), a national hero to the Czech people. Considered to be among the greatest military leaders of all time, Žižka is one of the few commanders in history who never lost a battle.

Long Riders on the Pacific Crest Trail

One of the most popular, but challenging, equestrian journeys is along the 2,663 mile long Pacific Crest Trail which runs from the Mexican to the Canadian borders.

Long Rider Ed Anderson was the lore master whose article, Riding the Pacific Crest Trail Safely, pioneered the collection of valuable information about this mountainous journey. Since Ed’s death Long Riders have lacked advice on how to make this difficult ride.

Gillian Larson (right) is a new Member of the Guild who recently rode her mare, Shyla, from the southern terminus of the PCT all the way to Canada.

She wrote, The PCT is a well documented trail for hikers with hundreds of books and blogs and websites providing information pertinent to a backpacker. There is no such information for a horseback rider and many attempted rides of the PCT have ended due to rider ignorance of equestrian specific conditions or obstacles on the trail. A book for equestrians on the logistics of riding the PCT is a much needed resource and thus I have decided to ride the PCT again with the goal of documenting all the horse-related obstacles, camping sites, horse facilities, and feed stores.”

The Guild is supporting Gillian’s literary and equestrian efforts. Meanwhile the knowledgeable Long Rider has offered to mentor those seeking advice on how to make this difficult ride. For further information, please contact the Guild.

Long Rider Legend Encourages Young Traveller

Sharon Muir Watson (left) and Ken Roberts were the first to ride the entire length of the Bicentennial National Trail, a 4,225 mile journey from Cooktown, Queensland, to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, starting in 1990. In 2005 the legendary Australian Long Riders attended a special global meeting held at the Royal Geographical Society by the Long Riders’ Guild. During the intervening years Ken and Sharon have offered valuable advice to equestrian travellers who wished to journey along the Bicentennial National Trail. Kimberley Delavere (right), who has set off to ride the length of the Bicentennial National Trail, is the first person to carry the Guild’s flag across the Australian continent. Sharon met Kimberley on the BNT to share stories and offer encouragement.

“A Transformation Takes Place During a Long Ride”

An article in Britain’s Your Horse magazine (right) describes Canadian Long Rider Bonnie Folkins' journeys across Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

“I took profound inspiration from the animals and the astonishing landscape; both of which contributed to a spiritual awakening. Unless you’ve continuously ridden a horse for weeks or months, there’s no way to relate to the transformation that takes place in the saddle during a long ride.”

Across Australia on Horseback

The Guild welcomes new Members Preston Stroud (left) and Kathryn Holzberger (right) who rode 5,200 kilometres along Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail. The couple travelled from Cooktown, Queensland south to the trail terminus at Healsville, Victoria.

Aimé Tschiffely Tee-shirt

Five generations have swung into the saddle and headed towards the horizon because of Swiss Long Rider Aimé Tschiffely. After repeated requests from Tschiffely fans and Long Riders, the Tschiffely Literary Estate has created tee-shirts featuring the famous equestrian explorer. If you would like to purchase one of these high-quality T-shirts, please click here.

Over the mountains and across the pampas

The Guild welcomes new Members Agustín María Mayer (left) and Sebastian Perkins (right) who rode across Patagonia and Argentina.

Trail of Dreams Funds Medical Breakthrough

A new book recounts “a big story about a big country and big-hearted people and their horses.”  The 5,654 kilometre (3,513 miles) journey, which stretched from Darwin, Northern Territory to Cockle Creek Bay Tasmania, was done by Danny Phegan, Colin Mitchell and Ian James. Known as “Campfires Against Cancer,” the equestrian travel campaign raised more than half a million dollars for medical research. Danny Phegan, who wrote the book and organized the ride, explained that “research funding has lead to development of a drug fighting brain tumours in clinical trials in Melbourne.”

Dr. Andrew Penman, an Australian cancer scientist, noted, “Danny and his friends are the perfect rebuke to those who doubt the power of individuals to change things.”

From the Arctic Circle to the Tropical Jungle

The Guild’s efforts to document Long Rider Routes continues, with the addition of important information regarding a ride through the Arctic Circle, a journey across the steppes of Kazakhstan, a perilous exploration of Afghanistan and a epic expedition from Canada to Brazil. The rare photo (right) shows members of the British Trans-Americas Expedition led by Colonel John Blashford Snell. They spent 99 days crossing the infamous Darien Gap jungle which lies between Panama and Columbia.

The Tragedy of the Hollywood Long Rider

Mounted on her horse, Broadway, beautiful Vonceil Viking (right) set off from New York in 1927. Her destination was Hollywood. Her ambition was to become a movie star. Dangers lay just ahead, including being hit by a reckless driver. Yet after 120 days in the saddle, the platinum blonde, who became known as the ‘Queen of the Watering Hole,’ trotted into Los Angeles to a storm of publicity. An excellent article by Lorraine Jackson of Horse Nation magazine has documented how the Long Rider was immediately cast as the heroine in the film “Riding Romance.” Yet as Jackson 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.”

Long Rider Routes

The Guild now archives the details of a growing collection of Long Rider Routes. This unique repository contains historical details and maps for more than fifty equestrian journeys, which took place between 1414 and 2015.

The first of these routes was “Misty’s Long Ride.” It title was bestowed by American Long Rider Howard Wooldridge, who rode his Pinto mare “ocean to ocean” across the United States in 2002. In keeping with that tradition, whenever possible, other routes also bear the name of the Road Horse who accomplished the journey.

It’s About Respect

Ian Robinson (right), who rode solo across Mongolia, Tibet and the Wakhan Corridor, was one of a group of Long Riders interviewed by Andy Wright. The article, which appears in Atlas Obscura, explains, "Members shouldn't expect to be awarded a silver trophy, a blue ribbon or a shiny big belt buckle from the Guild.  Respect is the prize." 

 

For information on earlier news stories, please visit the Archives pages.

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