Equestrian Travel Hall of Shame
A different reality often lurks behind the mask of respectability. For example, one of the most repulsive equestrian travesties was cloaked behind the dashing finery of European cavalry uniforms.
This occurred in Europe in 1892 when 121 Austrian and 132 German cavalry officers challenged each other to a race. The German contestants were required to ride 580 kilometres (360 miles) from Berlin to Vienna, while their counterparts raced in the opposite direction.
The news illustration (above) from 1892 depicts a misleading scene. In reality there was nothing debonair or gallant about the German and Austrian officers shown on the magazine cover, as these mounted criminals raced 46 horses to death in 71 hours.
Horrified reporters revealed details about the sufferings of the hundreds of other horses. “Some died on the road, while others, lame and almost ready to drop from exhaustion, were kept going by injections of morphine to deaden pain, and were sustained by doses of brandy, and all, with hardly an exception, were cruelly tried.”
This act of national chauvinism resulted in editors around the world condemning the murderous event. As far away as Australia, one paper thundered, “We trust no magistrate in any English community would hesitate to convict a rider who attempted to accomplish such a feat for sport.”
The public expressed outrage at this vain display of personal egotism and national pride. There was widespread demand for reform. Shortly thereafter rules were enacted to protect horses from being raced to death in endurance events.
The Long Riders' Guild was formed to advance the ancient art of equestrian travel, to educate people on how to make an equestrian journey, to ensure that horses are never abused, to lay false claims to rest, to protect the public from mounted charlatans and to alert the media that care should be taken when interviewing so-called horse travellers.
The Guild is not an international police force. It is a brotherhood of equestrian explorers.
We collectively realize that accidents occur to horse and rider without premeditation or warning. In such a case the Guild requires that the journey be halted so as to allow the horse the time it needs to heal. There are many examples of ethical Long Riders who have stopped their journeys prematurely because they understood that the physical welfare of the horse takes precedence over their ego.
Sadly, just like any human effort, there are occasional outlaws who appear in the world of equestrian travel. When these villains appear, they abuse their horses, ride them too hard, do not feed them properly, and continue the journey even if the horse becomes wounded. Such actions are embodied in the Hungarian word lóháldl, which states that the horse is expendable.
Times have changed. With the dawning of the twenty-first century, and with the availability of the Internet, those who misused their horses, deceived the public or lied about their exploits can hide no longer.
The forthcoming “Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration” contains the first study into what is known as Equestrian Narcissistic Disorder (END). Historical research has revealed that those individuals who abuse or kill their horses often share many common traits including being an exhibitionist, having an excessive need for admiration, adopting haughty body language, preferring showy clothes or a historical costume, exaggerating their achievements, persistently bragging and having a longing for fame.
Such individuals routinely overestimate their abilities, act recklessly, are in a hurry to finish, make strong denials regarding setbacks or injuries, refuse to accept responsibility for their mistakes, are reluctant to halt the journey and give precedence to personal goals rather than the horse’s safety.
Because they are searching for fans not equals they are averse to being compared to legitimate Long Riders and avoid contact with Members of the Guild. They never volunteer information about other equestrian travellers to the media. They use the horse to secure the public’s trust or to attract an audience. They are anxious to be labelled the first, the fastest, bravest, sexiest, etc. Their desire for media attention becomes addictive. Any setback is used to generate public sympathy.
People suffering from END are usually anxious to deny, ignore or belittle any spiritual aspects of the journey and cannot identify with such an experience.
The Guild never turns a blind eye to horse abuse or unethical behaviour.
Whereas in the past horses were ridden with utter ruthlessness, often to their deliberate death, Members of the Guild collectively believe that no religious, political, medical, cultural, financial, sporting or personal goal grants a human the right to abuse a horse during a journey. Long Riders are committed to protecting the welfare of their animals.
Listed below are those individuals who exploited their horses, misled the public or deceived the press in an attempt to glorify themselves.
Even though Benedict Allen had been informed that his Mongolian horses were being eaten alive by swarms of carnivorous insects, he left the animals to die an agonizing death. Click on photo for details.
Francois Xavier Aubry bragged “I’d kill every horse along the trail,” then proceeded to ride six horses to death and leave half a dozen more left permanently wounded. Click on photo for details.
Sandor Bako and Peter Csepin were arrested in Sweden and their wounded horses confiscated by the police. After promising the authorities that they would return the animals back to Hungary via a trailer, they broke their word and rode the injured horses across Europe. Click on photo for details.
ill-fated attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records, Carl Wayne
killed more horses in the shortest possible distance than anyone on record.
photo for details.
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) - English pamphleteer, journalist and author of
Robinson Crusoe (published in 1719), Defoe was considered the founder of
the English novel. Before his time, stories were usually written as long
poems or dramas. Defoe produced romantic adventures in what we now recognise
as the novel. The son of a London tradesman, before he became a writer Defoe
plunged into politics at an early age and was involved in an unsuccessful
rebellion against King James II. The author of Robinson Crusoe also
wrote hundreds of political articles, one of which landed him in prison.
In the 1720s Defoe had ceased to be politically
controversial in his writings. He produced several historical works,
including A Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain
(1724-1727, three volumes), without leaving London! Defoe later admitted he
had "fibbed a bit" in regards to his phantom equestrian journey.
He continued his streak of literary hoaxing by
publishing The History of the Great Plague in London. The writer had
indeed lived through the plague, but what he did not reveal to his readers was
that when it occurred in 1665 he was only five years old!
deliberately deceived the American public, repeatedly lied to members of the
press, obtained money and equipment under false pretences, pretended to be
raising funds for famous charities, misappropriated the reputation of cowboy
organizations and fallaciously used the names of Christian groups without
their knowledge or approval. Click on photo for details.
and his son Curtis
Heydon were declared guilty of 21 counts of
animal cruelty, fined $24,000 each, and sent to prison, after a Montana
court convicted them of starving and abusing their riding and pack horses.
Click on photo for details.
In 2004 the Walt Disney Studio claimed their movie, “Hidalgo,” was based on “the true story” of Frank Hopkins. An international team of more than eighty historians, academics, diplomats, scientists, authors and equestrian experts in five countries revealed that the counterfeit cowboy was the greatest equestrian travel rogue of all time and the man responsible for having perpetrated the most elaborate and destructive equestrian myth in modern history. Click on photo for details.
Neale Irons made a catastrophic journey across Mongolia. One witness stated his horse’s injuries were, "the size of dinner plates and going to the bone." In addition to these open wounds, the injured horse was also being eaten alive by insects. According to an official statement, "I could see the bones and there were hundreds of worms (insects)." Click on photo for details.
Though they claimed to be “valiant English Conquistadors,” four English Oxford University students hold the record for destroying more horses in a journey than anyone in history. During a 49 day ride across Peru, Stephen Julius, David Limb, John Fanshawe and Annabelle Wilkinson killed, wounded or severely rode 81 horses and 19 mules. Click on photo for details.
Bronco Charlie Miller rode from New York to San
Francisco in 1931 on his horse, Pole Star. However, Miller is not a
Historical Member of The Long Riders' Guild because he boasted of having ridden
two horses to death in the late 1880s during a six-day long horse versus
bicycle race in London.
Valerii Popov inflicted so much pain and suffering on his two horses during a ride from Russia to Paris, that he was arrested in Germany. After promising German and Russian diplomats that he would transport the injured animals home, he hid them in a forest and then continued his ride to the Eiffel Tower. Click on photo for details.
Count Moric Sandor, of Hungary, was known as the Devil's Horseman. During the early years of the 19th century, Sandor took every opportunity to abuse the horses under his saddle by racing them against a steamboat on the river Danube and pitting them against impossible odds over extreme distances. One Hungarian officer of the time complained that Sandor had "killed enough horses to mount a regiment." The drawing depicts the infamous horseman in the midst of "Sandor's Leap."
Pierre Vernay (right), his brother, Frederic, and Jean-Yves Lapaix bought two horses in Canada under false premise and then took them into the Arctic Circle. The untrained animals were forced to haul heavy sleds through the ice for 80 days and starved to the point of death. Click on photo for details.