The Long Riders' Guild

Mike Winter is riding across the States

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Mike Winter was riding across the United States, from Madison, Virginia, to Portland, Oregon, raising money for Cystic Fibrosis.

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The Long Riders' Guild has been contacted by Mike Winter who had a dream - a great dream.

"Iíve logged over three million miles over the road by truckÖ big trucks, hauling cars and going down the Interstates with 550 horsepower under the hood. But Iíve never given up wanting to do a long ride on a horseÖ just one horsepower. Now Iím going to do it! Iím starting at a friendís place in Virginia and heading for Denver and then after a lay-over riding over the Rockies into Idaho and a hoped for stopover at the Nez Perce reservation to talk with the people who developed the Appaloosa horse.

My horse, Apache, is the son of a registered Appaloosa and a stallion I adopted six years ago from the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse program.  The ride will end in Portland in late summer... this year or next.

Iím calling my ride the Freedom Ride for Cystic Fibrosis.  My goal is to raise $50,000. All proceeds benefit the Colorado Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which supports the CF Clinic at Denver Children's Hospital."

May 23rd 2002

Mike left from Madison, Virginia, on May 16th.  He spent his first two days riding with the Ridge Riders - an equestrian group which promotes riding through the Smoky Mountains.  His horse, Apache, is doing "fantastic."

May 31st 2002

The Long Riders' Guild has had a message from Mike's brother, Jeff.

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On the 23rd, Apache apparently overheard Mike telling a passer-by exactly where they were heading, because the next morning he was gone! (Mike forgot his boy scout knots years ago).  It seems Apache decided to go back to Madison! Mike had to enlist the aid of a gentleman named "Tuff" and his '58 Ford pickup truck to go find the wayward horse. Somewhere along a Virginia backroad, as Mike rode on the tailgate, the pickup came to a screeching halt as Tuff jumped out, grabbed a shovel and beat an unsuspecting animal to death in front of the truck. He returned to the '58 Ford grumbling, "I hate those copperheads!"

Well about nine miles back Mike and the snake-loving Tuff found Apache, slowly working his way back to the barn. So it's back on the trail and some knot tying practice.

Apache is really showing his personality. He loves to roll on his back. Which is great except for the coffee pot and some other items in his pack that are distorted beyond use. That enameled coffee pot was the one luxury Mike wanted on the ride. Oh well.

June 4th 2002 

Mike telephoned The Long Riders' Guild in a state of shock - literally! 

"You told me not call you unless I had a REALLY serious problem," Mike told CuChullaine from a pay phone in West Virginia. "Does being struck by lightning while you're riding count as a serious problem"?

We assured Mike that yes, being turned into an moving Christmas tree ornament even impressed US !

We're happy to report that both Mike and Apache are fine after their "hair raising" experience. Mike was a little sketchy on the details. (Who can blame him?)

He remembered riding during a cloudy day, with severe thunder breaking all around him. The next thing he recalled was a loud noise and the feeling of electricity running through both him and Apache.  Miraculously both Long Rider and mount were unharmed.

We've heard about every type of Long Rider peril here at the Guild. But Mike has certainly ridden where none of us have ever gone before !

14 June 2002

Mike telephoned The Long Riders' Guild with sad news - the evening that he and Apache were struck by lightning, Apache got tangled up in his tether and damaged his leg.  Nothing life-threatening, but enough to enforce a long rest.  With a heavy heart, Mike put his equine friend in a trailer and drove him back to Virginia.

"It so happens I have been offered another horse - a nice, 18-year-old gaited horse who had been badly abused in the show ring and who has an eye missing.  But I feel bad about leaving Apache," Mike told us.  We suggested that he go back to where he left off and ride the new horse until Apache was well enough to return to work.

So Mike and his new companion - yet to be named - are getting back on the road, and heading for Kentucky horse country - HQ of The Long Riders' Guild.

Check back for more news soon!  

August 2002

Mike has had to postpone his ride.  

In an email to The Long Riders' Guild, and on his website, this is what Mike wrote:

"While in Kentucky I made the decision to stop the ride for the time being. Pride, while having a super heart, was having problems with the heat and was exhausted. He had developed saddle sores on his back; I sent the saddle ahead and continued on bareback with a book bag on my back and the bare necessities for the two of us. He was still growing tired. I realized I had asked the old boy to do too much with little preparation. My goal of not hurting a horse was the first and foremost goal of the trip and the decision was an easy one."

That was the right decision, Mike!  And we at The Long Riders' Guild applaud your courage in making it.  Please let us know when you resume your ride.

For more details of Mike's ride, and information about the charity, please visit his website:

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