The Long Riders' Guild

Philippe Rustenholz rides through the
Andes Mountains!

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French equestrian explorer Philippe Rustenholz made a long mounted journey in Mongolia in preparation for his current year-long ride from Tierra del Fuego up through the Andes.

Philippe and Saskia Machaczek started out together, but decided to go their separate ways.  They realised that their ideas about horseback travel were too far apart.


Philippe's journey is over!  Here is his last email to The Long Riders' Guild.

The end of a dream

Yesterday I returned to the Valle Calchaquies to say farewell to my travelling companions.  The sun, which had been invisible for two weeks, was burning with a thousand fires.  The stream sparkled as it crossed les pastos….  Here, they will be fine.  I make a few last-minute suggestions to Francisco, who smiles.  This guy knows horses better than I do – he has more than a hundred in his finca, but he knows that each one is different and that I have become very attached to my chaps.  A month and a half ago, I spent an entire night trying in vain to persuade him to sell one of his horses:  he desperately needs the money, but could not bring himself to say ‘yes’ to the buyer.

Francisco has given me his lasso – fantastic!

A few days ago we were welcomed by the finca of the agrupacion of Tucumán, in a spot which was ideal for horses.  We unsaddled, let the horses roll, and then they waited.  And yet, we had to hurry, because some Gauchos were waiting for me to have an asado.    They had been told that I like beer, and a full glass was immediately held out to me.  “Wait, I have to see to the horses first – they are thirsty!  I have just covered 20 kilometers in 1 hour and 55 minutes, and they won’t drink in a strange place unless I go with them” – in fact, I knew that they would find the water by themselves, but I wanted to enjoy these privileged moments when, without a lead or a headcollar, they followed me to the water.  Flauca tried to drink first, before Flecha, but the boss drove him off to drink quietly himself.  The mule waited its turn and put itself on my other side to be sure of my protection…

Already it felt like the end!  I covered that part alone, as Tabea can’t cope with the cold and didn’t want to cross the suburbs of Tucumán which are truly appalling.  Holding two unsaddled animals on a long rein, and mounted on mine without saddlebags, I treated myself to a rather more sporting journey, accompanied by one of the Gauchos from Yerba Buena, and I was so happy!  We trotted, I had nothing to do to direct the little troop – the weight of my body was enough, a small hand gesture and they followed.

My companions never let me out of their sight, and, nice as it is to be able to say that, it made our separation even more difficult.  My heart is as heavy as the sky is grey – was this our final sortie?

Yesterday I contacted the farm where their journey will end.  I am going to give them to Francisco who will keep them in his finca, they will be fine there, and if I stop here, he can come and fetch them in a horse-box.  But it is very cold and Tabea can’t cope any longer…

Goodbye, my friends, goodbye Flecha, always so distrustful, goodbye Flauca, my mad young friend, and goodbye my faithful Chata….

To read Philippe's earlier emails, please click here.

For more details regarding this expedition, please visit the following French websites: and