The Long Riders' Guild

News!

Summer 2012

2nd September 2012: The LRG is extremely sad to report the sudden death at the age of 47 of Founder Member, DC Vision.   Although Vision had previously never even mounted a horse, he set off on his beloved Shire mare, Louise, in 1991 and completed a 14,000 mile spiritual odyssey through the United States

Lithuanian Long Rider en route to Arctic Circle

Lithuanian Long Rider Vaidotas Digaitis is on a journey around the Baltic Sea to the Arctic Circle and back.  No one has attempted this difficult journey since a British and Danish Long Rider rode south from the Arctic Circle in 1954.   Update mid-September: Vaidotas is almost back home in Lithuania, in spite of having a broken foot!  Congratulations to this Long Rider, whose horses look as happy and relaxed at the end of the journey as they did at the beginning.

 Spain Honours English Long Rider

Because she has survived a host of adventures, written many exciting books, made more than forty documentary programmes for the BBC and formed an educational centre in Madagascar, British Long Rider Christina Dodwell was presented with Spain’s highest exploration award. In a ceremony in Madrid,

 

H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias and other distinguished leaders of the Spanish Geographical Society compared Dodwell to Thor Heyerdahl, the first recipient of the International Award.

 

 “We firmly believe that your life is an example for many people,” they told the lady Long Rider.

 

International Acclaim for Australian Long Rider Film

In June 2004 Australian Long Rider Tim Cope set off on a 10,000 kilometre solo ride from Mongolia to Hungary. At the conclusion of his epic ride, Tim translated his experiences into a remarkable movie entitled  “On the Trail of Genghis Khan.”  The ground-breaking film has now made cinematic history by winning honours at national film festivals in Canada, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

One celebrity who met the young Long Rider film maker wrote, “I had a lengthy chat with Tim that night and came away so very impressed by this humble Australian who had had the fortitude to achieve what he did whilst still holding such personal grace.”

 

In an email to the Guild, Tim reported, “It is quite remarkable that a long riding film has been given such accolades in the face of modern day extreme adventure documentaries. But we are getting horse riding, and these ancient steppe cultures, into the relative mainstream. Its thanks in part to the Guild for all your help and encouragement to date that spurs me on.”

 

Japanese Museum Confirms Nation’s Long Rider Past

Thanks to the discovery of a “lost” photograph, Japan’s most famous Long Rider, Baron Yasumasa Fukushima, has at last been identified. This is the first confirmed image which shows the Long Rider at the conclusion of his legendary two-year trip from Berlin to Tokyo. He is accompanied by his Central Asian horses, who were later adopted by the Japanese Emperor.

Additionally, after a seven year search, the Long Riders’ Guild has finally confirmed that the Matsumoto City Museum has protected the Long Rider’s precious artefacts. Even though the Baron’s sword, equestrian equipment and travel diaries are not currently on display, the Museum has extended an invitation to equestrian scholars and Long Riders to view them privately. For more information please contact the Guild.

 

Also, thanks to the diligent detective work of the Japanese equestrian historians, Makoto and Satoe Matsui, the Baron’s writings are being translated into English. One early discovery provided a vital clue into Fukushima’s character. Though the samurai Long Rider had ridden 14,000 miles, through minus 60 degree weather, and been greeted as a national hero upon his return, Fukushima was too modest to refer to himself as “me,” believing that by doing so he was drawing undue attention to himself.

 

In an age when people beg for public acclaim via Facebook and Twitter, Fukushima serves as a beacon of humility, strength, resolve, iron will, courage and dignity. Today’s Long Riders should not try and "beat" the Baron in terms of riding as many miles as he did. The true goal is to strive to be like him.

 

New Zealand Long Rider Wins Travel Book Award

Upon completing a perilous ride through Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, New Zealand Long Rider Ian Robinson sat down to write his third book. The result was a riveting travel tale that garnered critical acclaim and won the Cathay Pacific Travel Book of the Year Award.

“Only one book stood out for all three judges. That is why we chose "Tea with the Taliban" by Ian Robinson as our winning title.”

 

 Chinese Quest for “Blood Sweating Horses” linked to Long Rider

Historians have long known that because of constant raids by mounted nomads, the Chinese Emperor Wu dispatched an army into Central Asia with orders to seize valuable horses from Central Asian breeders. The majority of Wu’s ill-fated force died marching across the Takla Makan desert.

 

Thanks to the work of Dr. Sally Church, we now know that diplomacy succeeded where force failed.

 

In 1414 a Chinese diplomat named Chen Cheng was ordered by Emperor Yongle to undertake a hazardous equestrian journey to the distant city of Herat. Located in today’s modern Afghanistan, Herat was then the capital of the Timurid empire.  Chen Cheng’s mission was to deliver precious Chinese silks to Emperor Shahrukh. In exchange, the Chinese Long Rider was ordered to obtain a large herd of the valuable horses used by Shahrukh’s legendary mounted archers.

 

Though a handful of scholars were aware of Chen Cheng’s journey, Dr. Church recently completed the first translation of the Long Rider’s diary.

 

Entitled Journey to the Western Regions, it provides a gripping day-to-day account which has the ring of authenticity about it. The Chinese Long Rider encounters many problems during the gruelling nine-month ride, including snow storms, bad trails and his horse drowning in a river. The result is an extraordinary equestrian journey and the oldest known example of a Historical Long Rider’s “Story from the Road.”

 

 Argentina locates film of Mancha and Gato

Thanks to Dr. Victor Chua, a film of the most famous Long Rider horses has been discovered in Argentina. This is the first known footage showing Tschiffely’s legendary Criollo geldings passing through the Panama Canal and being hailed as heroes in a ticker tape parade through New York.

Long Rider Flags

The Long Riders’ Guild flag represents those who protect, preserve and promote the ancient art of equestrian travel. On rare occasions, the Guild grants a flag to an expedition whose purity and magnitude are considered to be of extreme importance. Such special journeys serve as tiny seeds, the true results of which may not be fully known for many years.

 

Three such flags are currently in the field and were dispatched with these words:  “Protect its message. Carry it with pride. And ride well, Long Rider.”

 

British Long Riders Jakki Cunningham and Luke Tucker are leading a special expedition from France to England, consisting of twelve physically challenged and disadvantaged youngsters. Jakki has led two Caravans of Hope, one in 2006 and another in 2008. The third set off from the base camp in the Camargue in May. At the conclusion of this trip the ten Camargues will be donated to Riding for the Disabled centres in Britain.

 

Jakki wrote to say, “We shall fly the flag with the respect and philosophy that the Long Riders’ Guild represents. And, in all humility, we are deeply honoured.”

 

A second flag has been dispatched to Filipe Masetti Leite, who departs in July, 2012 on the first equestrian journey from Canada to Brazil. In an unprecedented sign of international support for the 16,000 kilometre adventure, ten senior Long Riders from five countries provided the young traveller with advice, equipment and training. Filipe has also received the endorsement of the Tschiffely Literary Estate. He wrote, “It is an honour to have been selected to carry the LRG flag.”

 

Pete Langford of New Zealand has also been granted a flag. Though his journey across both islands will not involve a multitude of dangers, he is making his ride in the hope of creating an equestrian trail that other Long Riders will be able to follow along the length of that nation. Pete is anxious to promote the idea that horse travel is not an elite club and is accessible to those on even a modest income. He wrote, “Being asked to carry the Guild flag took the wind out of my sails. I am delighted and honoured.”  Here is the journey's Facebook page.

 

Welcome New Long Riders

Thanks to an explosion of international interest, the Long Riders’ Guild continues to grow by the inclusion of equestrian travellers whose journeys represent the past and present.

 

Virginie Caeyssens rode through Patagonia and Argentina. Quita Collard rode across Peru.
In an effort to draw attention to the neglected equestrian heritage of African Americans, Miles Dean rode "ocean to ocean" across the United States. While continuing to inspire school children to seek out mounted adventure, the equestrian educator co-founded the Black Heritage Riders. Miles wrote and directed the play, “The Black Western Experience,” which presents a historical representation of African American involvement in the Wild West. Using traditional “mountain man” equipment and black-powder firearms, Hawk Hurst rode from Mexico to Canada.
Vincent Kirouac rode across Canada to promote the knightly virtues of courage, compassion and loyalty. Orion Kraus rode across Mexico and Guatemala
Ed Lines rode from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru. Phil Sutton rode from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru.
Nick Warner rode from Cuenca, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru. Ronja Zahradniková and Dennis Kienzler rode from Germany to Hungary.

 

Historical Long Riders

A new research tool provides an alphabetical list of hundreds of Historical Long Riders, complete with their destinations and year of journey. Many names have been added to what is now the largest source of equestrian travel history on record. One remarkable Historical Long Rider was Edward Dodwell, the ancestor of the modern Long Rider Christina Dodwell.  

 

Expeditions

Long Riders are in the saddle around the world. In response to seeing a Member of the Guild, one citizen shared this poignant remark:  “After an adulthood of doing the 9-5, taking on a career that pays and does not interest me, and giving up on so many of my dreams, I am so happy that someone out there hasn't.”

 

Current Expeditions

 

Bernice Ende, the “Lady Long Rider,” is now on her sixth equestrian journey, a 2,000 mile ride through Canada. Visit her new website or view a collection of beautiful images which chronicle Bernice’s previous rides in the United States.

 

Vincent Gabriel Kirouac is riding his horse, Coeur de Lion, from Quebec City to British Columbia, Canada. While many have crossed Canada before, Vincent is the first to undertake a journey so as to promote the knightly values of virtue and chivalry.  In an age dominated by negative news and questionable social role models, Vincent’s campaign is causing a storm of interest.

 

Filipe Leite sent this update “The time has come to part ways. On Monday June 11 I will get on a Greyhound Bus here in Toronto headed for the West.  First I will stop in Saskatoon to interview an American Long Rider who has ridden more than 16 000 miles on 5 different trips. I will spend 2 days with Bernice Ende, who will help me draw my exact route from Montana to Mexico - She has made this trek not once but twice :)  From one Legend to the next - I head to Northern BC for a week long wilderness riding clinic with Stan Walchuk. The Canadian Long Rider will teach me the art of packing and surviving in the wild with my two horses. After that it's off to Calgary to meet my two ponies and start riding hard.  Life is what you make of it. People will try to shut your dreams down left, right and centre. But when you believe in it enough, the Universe truly conspires in your favour! Just ask Paolo Coelho, he knows."

Filipe has now met Bernice, who gave him much valuable advice.

 

Steve O’Connor is making the first modern travel around Ireland with a horse, raising awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.  He has been personally haunted by the 'black dog' of depression and has come close to committing suicide himself.  He recently wrote to the Guild to say, “Hello my friends, We are over 3 weeks into our Irish adventure, I can't believe that I have found another horse that will put up with me, and that can cope with the rigours of day to day trekking. We are in Bray for a couple sheltering from the rain and resting. We will be back on the road tomorrow heading North through Dublin. My Facebook page is Steve O'Connor; there are photos of Jess and me on there, we have had a fantastic response from people along the trail, it is much different from my previous treks. I am also involved with a Suicide Prevention Charity, so am doing things with them. The media have picked up n it as well have the social network sites with people posting photos on Facebook and Twitter.”  Photo by Deirdre Kelleghan

 

William Reddaway has departed on a journey to all four corners of England.

 

Orion Kraus is riding from Mexico to Panama.  “I'm making great progress and will be near the Nicaragua border in about a week”.

 

Catherine Thompson is continuing her ride across Canada.

 

Planned Expeditions

 

Katrina Littlechild is planning a ride from John O'Groats to Lands End in the United Kingdom.

 

Pete Langford  is preparing to make a journey across both islands of New Zealand.

Matt Traver and Jamie Maddison plan to retrace a journey taken by a little-known British explorer through the Eurasian Continent. Part of the trip involves riding through most of Eastern Kazakhstan.

Theus Badenhorst is Is preparing to make a journey through his native South Africa to draw attention to the desperate need for further research into the deadly African Horse Sickness.

 

South African Long Rider Lloyd Gillespie has ridden nearly 6,000 kilometres in his epic journey around South Africa and is now planning to make a ride to draw attention to saving the endangered rhino.

 

Siri Anderson is preparing to ride the length of her homeland of Norway.

 

Serena Urquhart will be riding across Wales and England

 

Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka is planning the first modern journey through Indonesia.  "I plan to take the first step in October or November 2012 and finish it three or four months later. The journey is to cover about 1200 miles across Java and Bali, starting from Jakarta. I am still doing research about the details of my route and itinerary, along with searching for my new riding horse. I also plan to use a pack horse. In fact, I have purchased a pair of adjustable pack saddle made by Custom Pack Rigging following your suggestion and some other long riders".

 

Bellis Clausen is planning to ride from Denmark to Austria.

 

Henri Ferrero is investigating riding in Kazakhstan and Siberia

 

Holly Merriman is planning to ride from Michigan to Utah.

 

Heather Mayer - I am planning a trip across the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, all on horseback.  The purpose of the trip is to raise money for a non-profit that helps rehabilitate injured American soldiers using rescued horses. 

 

Marcie DuFault is also planning an ocean to ocean journey across the United States.

 

Completed Expeditions

Virginie Claeyssens' journey through Patagonia was a success. She also provided valuable information for the LRG’s ten-year pack saddle research project.

 

Long Riders in the News

 

Brazil – Long Rider assures horse’s health on Calgary to Brazil ride

 

Canada – Equestrian Journey proves chivalry isn’t dead

 

England – Long Riders’ caravan of hope changes lives of disadvantaged teens

 

Denmark – Riding to the Arctic Circle

 

Guatemala – Carrying a message of Ecology and Culture

 

Hungary – Journey from Germany to Hungary fulfils dream

 

United States – Blind Long Rider investigates mini-horses as guide animals

 

Long Riders Promote Europe Without Borders

German Long Rider David Wewetzer continues his work to help establish a network of equestrian trails across Europe. These routes include trails stretching from Spain to Poland, Germany to Italy, Lithuania to the Ukraine and Portugal to Greece, among many more.

In 2013 David will be part of an international workshop entitled “Free Riding – Europe without Borders.” Other Long Riders, such as Peter van der Gugten in Switzerland and Dutch Long Rider Dominique van Eick are also taking an active part in this effort to promote equestrian travel through all of the European nations. But David wrote to say, “It would be great if more Long Riders became involved.” He can be reached at david@wewetzer.net

David and Giacomo on the Iron Curtain Trail.

 

 Pacific Crest Trail documented by Long Rider

After completing his journey from Mexico to Canada along America’s Pacific Crest Trail, Long Rider Ed Anderson immediately began compiling an extensive collection of valuable information related to equestrian travel along this popular, but difficult, trail. Ed has now published an educational article entitled, “Tips for riding the Pacific Crest Trail.” In addition, Ed has released a stunning slide show which takes the viewer along the length of his beautiful and rugged journey.

First Annual Aimé Tschiffely Trail Ride held in Switzerland

Swiss Long Rider Peter van der Gugten has extended an invitation to other Long Riders to join him for a special new equestrian event. The trail ride is being held at Aimé's home town of Zofingen. People are riding from various points across Europe to reach the town. News of the international equestrian meeting has caused the Zofinger Tagblatt to dispatch a reporter to cover the story. 

 

Problems at the Borders

Recent reports have come in from Long Riders informing the Guild that Patagonia discourages personal horse ownership, Serbia has toughened its requirements for horses entering that nation, and the border between Guatemala and Mexico has become a medical and diplomatic nightmare for equestrian travellers.  Read more....

 

Will Explorers be re-defined as Terrorists?

For the first time in history the neutrality which all civilized nations have traditionally granted to the medical profession has been violated by a powerful national government. If doctors can now be classified as “terrorists” by the “land of the free” are explorers next?

 

The History of Equestrian Travel

Europe’s leading equestrian travel magazine, Randonner à Cheval, has named Basha O’Reilly to be their International Correspondent. Using newly revealed information, and re-discovered images, Basha’s article “The History of Equestrian Travel” explains how the five greatest Long Riders influenced each other, and the course of future events.

 

Tschiffely’s Post Script Discovered

Twenty-five years after he stepped down from the saddle, Aimé Tschiffely penned a poignant postscript to his beloved Criollo horses.

In my heart there is room for many animals I have loved, but Mancha and Gato will always have a special corner of their own,” the great Long Rider wrote.

Gato died first, at the age of 35 in 1944 and this touching picture shows Mancha at Gato's grave.  

 

 Stories from the Road

After surviving a host of physical dangers and emotional challenges many a Long Rider has had to face a final dilemma. What to do with the cherished horse who has carried you so far and changed the fabric of your life? The options are never pleasant when the journey ends far, far away from the Long Rider’s home.  At the conclusion of his ride through Turkey, Welsh Long Rider Jeremy James was faced with such a difficult decision. In his moving story, “The Old Man, the Lake and the Stallion,” the Long Rider known as the “poet of the saddle” shares memories of a painful past.

 

At the first international Long Riders’ meeting, Founding Member DC Vision prophetically said, “They either get it in ten miles or they never get it all.” Though she is one of the youngest Members of the Guild, North American Long Rider Katie Russell “got it” in spades.  No mere mileage counter, Katie’s account of riding across the western American states is remarkable in terms of its emotional honesty, personal insight and equestrian wisdom. A true classic and available on line.

 

Long Rider Literary News

Italian Long Rider Arianna Corradi has released a book about her round trip ride from Italy to England. Beautifully illustrated, the seasoned equestrian traveller inspires and educates with ease in her book, Quel Sogno di Partire a Cavallo.

There is a growing awareness that mankind’s general equestrian history, as well as the specific equestrian cultures of individual nations, are in danger of becoming extinct. North American Long Rider Miles Dean is one of those path-finders who set out to rectify the problem. In her book, On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy's Ride Across America, author Lisa Winkler recounts how Dean set off on a 5,000 mile educational odyssey across the United States. The 57-year-old African American teacher spoke to thousands of people, telling them the forgotten story  of the African-American cowboys and inspiring countless children to dream of following the author into the saddle. A truly moving account about a remarkable man and his equine partner, the Arab stallion, Sankofa, who took Miles “ocean to ocean.”

Though Long Rider Robin Hanbury-Tenison has been called England’s doyen of explorers, one should never underestimate the master traveller’s immense literary gifts.  Robin’s latest effort, The Great Explorers, is a masterpiece of writing, matched to beautiful images. The result has been described as, “A monumental tome that's a genuine contribution to modern thinking about the nature of exploration ... the essays are first class ... nigh-on perfect.”

The National Theatre is presenting an exhibition of the explorers in the Olivier and Littleton theatre foyers for six weeks from September 17th. 

Horses have always influenced the life and writing of Jeremy James. His books Saddletramp and Vagabond recount his mounted adventures. The Byerley Turk was his masterful re-telling of the fabled stallion’s action-packed story. Jeremy has now turned his pen to the spiritual aspects of the horse-human connection.  The result is magical. The Alchemical Horseman tells the story of Xavier Perdue, who has lost his belief in life. Like many a mystic tale, this one has its wise magi to assist the spiritual pilgrim as he struggles on the path to inner peace. A shadowy knight and a blue horse help Xavier overcome his inner demons, regain his confidence and rejoice in life.

Deepak Chopra has praised the book, saying it was, “A richly entertaining story of love, courage, determination and personal transformation. A must read.”

 

 Long Riders Host Writers and Photo Workshop

Doug Preston is the author of a dozen best-selling books. Walter Nelson is a renowned photographer whose work has been collected by leading museums. In the 1980s the two friends made an important mounted journey in search of the conquistador, Coronado. In October the Long Rider legends will be sharing their knowledge about writing and photography in a special workshop to be held in at the Ghost Ranch, located in the remote desert landscapes of Abiquiu, New Mexico.

 

Long Rider Films and Television

French Long Rider Louis Meunier nearly died during his ride across Afghanistan in 2005. But the remarkable young man stayed on in the war-torn country for many years. Besides helping revive the national equestrian game, buz khazi,  Louis organized the country’s first mountain climbing team. 24,000 Feet Above The War is the documentary Louis made that profiles the Afghans who scaled  Afghanistan's highest peak in the Hindu Kush mountains.

 

Deb Yavorski rides from Maine to Washington.

 

Hawk Hurst’s “mountain man” ride from Mexico to Canada.

 

Jeanette and Richard McGrath ride from California to Delaware.

 

Thomas Fairbank and Katie Russell ride from Washington to Montana.

 

Linda Losey rides “ocean to ocean” across the United States.

 

Deadly Equines – Startling New Evidence and More Deaths

 

The “Deadly Equines” project continues to receive unsolicited evidence from around the world. It has been discovered that two more Historical Long Riders wrote about Tibet’s meat-eating horse culture.  More recently, American Long Rider Doug Preston found additional evidence demonstrating that equines are omnivores. Doug interviewed an elderly Tibetan who had sought political refuge in the United States after the Chinese invaded Tibet. He too had a story about Tibet’s meat-eating horses.

Sadly, there have been four equine attacks in the UK in the last few months. With the exception of one adult, they were all aimed at small children. In each case the horse snatched the child from the hands of its shocked parent, shook the child savagely, then threw it into the air. Luckily all the children survived.

One mother recounted how watched in horror as her three-year-old son, Steven Goldsmith, was bit on the chest and flung five feet into the air. “One minute he was feeding it, the next it had grabbed him and thrown him across the field. I was terrified.” This equine attack to the child’s stomach/chest matches Savage-Landor’s historical record of Tibetan kiangs seizing victims by the stomach.

An English woman in Kent was not so lucky. A local horse killed her, then refused to surrender the body. According to one account the horse had to be tranquillised three times before police could reach the victim.

The English death shares common features with other equine attacks:
- the horse displayed no overt aggression before the attack
- the victim was taken by surprise
- body injury was severe

- limbs may have been torn off or the body disembowelled
- the horse refused to surrender the victim's body after death occurred.

Another shocking attack occurred in Australia, where a family horse attacked a young woman without warning. The six-year-old horse had been born on the family farm and raised with tender care. He missed tearing out the victim’s throat but left her severely injured. 

 

New articles regarding the on-going Deadly Equines investigation have been printed in the United States and Holland.

 

Horse Slaughter – Lessons from the Past

Because an estimated 65,000 horses are transported across Europe for slaughter every year, the European Commission now agrees that EU legislation on long-distance transport of animals to slaughter needs to be reviewed. Today’s legislators could learn a lesson from our collective equestrian past. The Horse World of Victorian London is one of the books published by the LRG Press. The final chapter describes the dignified way old, injured or unwanted horses were put to death in Victorian times. Even in those unsentimental days, horses were not subjected to being transported hundreds, if not thousands, of miles in conditions of appalling cruelty.

 

Eyewitness to an Equine Epidemic

In 1872 an equine epidemic inflicted a national emergency on the United States. A highly contagious disease raced from Canada to Cuba, then spread west all the way to California. As a result of millions of horses died or were too sick to work. New York harbour was packed with ships which could not be unloaded. Boston burned when horses could not pull the fire wagons. The US cavalry fought the Apaches on foot in Arizona. A new letter has been discovered which recounts one eyewitness account of this the most terrible transportation disaster to ever hit the United States.

 

Lost Heroes

It saddens us to report the loss of several of the Guild’s mounted heroes.

 

In 1971 Dennis Botterill set off with his Brumbies, Dusty and Dancer, on an extremely difficult 3,000 mile journey through Australia. The ride took a great toll on his health. Dennis recently passed away in his native Australia.

 

Tadeusz Kotwicki rode 4,000 kilometres from Kazakhstan to Russia in 1992.  Then in 1995 he made a journey which took him from Patagonia to Kansas.

 

Caitriona O'Leary made a journey in Rajasthan, India in 2009. She was later instrumental in exposing the equine welfare concerns connected to the infamous Mongol Derby endurance ride. The 28-year-old was riding along a country lane in Sussex, England when her horse took fright and bolted. Caitriona was thrown and died soon afterwards from her injuries.

  

Locating Leonard Clark

Leonard Clark was a lifelong enemy of fear, common sense, and all the other elements that usually define “normal” people.  During The Second World War he headed the United States espionage system in China. When that global conflict came to a peaceful conclusion, Clark turned his relentless energy towards exploring Tibet on horseback. His book about the expedition, The Marching Wind, is one of the most exciting equestrian travel tales ever written. The dashing adventurer later died while looking for diamonds in the jungles of Venezuela. An American, Tammy Leland, has informed the Guild that she is interested in locating the isolated mining camp cemetery in the Amazon of Venezuela where the legendary Long Rider is believed to be buried.

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


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