The Long Riders' Guild

Historical Long Riders

Brian Callahan - Rode from Esquel, Patagonia, across Argentina to Rincon de Cholila in search of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Guillaume Capus - Before the turn of the 20th century, exploration of the Pamirs was usually the reserve of the British and the Russians. The French Long Rider, and renowned naturalist, changed that by making two historic rides across Central Asia and the celebrated mountain ranges. In 1880 Capus set off with his companion, Gabriel Bonvalot. They rode across Turkistan, then explored Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. By 1886 the French scientist had returned to Central Asia, again in the company of Bonvalot. This time they were determined to ride further afield. They journeyed from Tehran to Samarkand, then attempted to reach Kabul. When that plan failed, Capus and Bonvalot crossed the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains, before entering the remote mountain kingdom of Chitral. From there, the scientist turned equestrian explorer, made his way back to France via British occupied India. In his travel book, Capus carefully explained the history and culture of the various tribes he had encountered. He was, for example, an early authority on the Chitralis, the Kyrgyz, and the Kalash pagans of Kafiristan

George Cardinet Jr. was not only a Long Rider, he was also known as the father of the modern American trails system. A keen horseman and trail activist since the 1940s, Cardinet was instrumental in developing California’s first long-distance equestrian trails. His most important journey along this important trail system occurred in 1976 when George rode nearly a thousand miles from northern Mexico through California. During that long ride Cardinet closely followed the route used by the Spanish explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza, two hundred years before. Cardinet’s latter-day journey helped inspire the United States government into passing the National Trails System Act, which recognized the country’s extensive system of scenic and historic trails.

Carpini.JPG (30907 bytes) Brother John de Plano Carpini - rode from Frankfurt, Germany to Karakorum, Mongolia and back in the late 1200s.











Douglas Carruthers - Few people are blessed with the clarity of purpose which the English Long Rider Douglas Carruthers carried throughout his remarkable and event-filled life. Born in 1882, as a boy he had determined to cross “Darkest Africa,” see the ruins of Petra and reach “that strange capital at the back of the world, Bokhara.” Before he was 26, he had done all three. During this remarkable burst of intense exploration, Carruthers had scrutinized the Middle East, examined Arabia, travelled across Africa from east to west, followed the course of the Congo River, and investigated Central Asia. Yet it was his equestrian journey across Dzungaria which marks Carruthers as an important Historical Long Rider.

In 1910, at the age of 28, the young scientist was joined by a journalist, M.P. Price, and a professional hunter named J.H. Miller. The trio were determined to see Dzungaria, an ancient Mongolian kingdom which lay between Siberia and Mongolia. In fact the obscure realm had been named for the Dzungars, the left (züün) hand (gar) of Genghis Khan’s army.

Our aim was to explore the last stronghold of the indigenous tribes of Southern Siberia and the Great Mongolian plateau,” he wrote.

It may surprise modern equestrian explorers to learn that many of the problems currently affecting 21st century equestrian travel presented challenges to Carruthers and the Long Riders of his generation as well. This included visas and money.

Unlike in today’s ATM or credit card culture, Carruthers noted that he had to estimate all of the expenses for the six month ride across the mountains, tundra and desert that lay before him because, “Our next banking town would be six months and 1,500 miles away.” Adding to his problem was the culture consideration that many of the Mongolian nomads he would encounter had never seen bank notes. Consequently, the English explorers were forced to carry much of their wealth in small gold and silver bars.

But having the money was no guarantee of success, especially when the cynical representatives of the Czar’s Imperial government mistrusted your motives. Thus, despite their scientific credentials, the Long Riders had to contend with a hostile Russian government who disbelieved in their purpose.

“That is an absurd route to take,” the sceptical officials announced. “Nobody goes that way. Besides, the track to Usinsk will be open in a week or two; so why choose this difficult one?”

It was only after Carruthers had appealed to the Governor-General of Siberia, that the proper paperwork was produced and the travellers were permitted to depart across Russian territory, bound for faraway China, via Dzungaria.

The resultant trip took the men and their horses across 5,000 miles of trackless forest, insect infested taiga, freezing steppes and dreary deserts. But despite the physical hardships, Carruthers remained enchanted with travel.

“Day after day, as we travelled across the boundless wastes of Central Asia, we were surrounded by views possessing the magic which inspires a man with great thoughts and makes him long great longings,” he wrote.

At the conclusion of the journey, Carruthers wrote a tremendous book entitled Unknown Mongolia. Not only did it provide its readers with loads of entertaining excitement, the book was also filled with accurate observations of the Uriankhai reindeer herders and other lesser known cultural secrets.

Carruthers was awarded the Patron’s medal by the Royal Geographical Society in London. He went on to inspire a new generation to become explorers and Long Riders. However, he had no tolerance for fools or frauds. Carruthers especially disliked those authors who enriched themselves by writing about how their lack of proper planning had caused them to “suffer this or endure that.” Such actions, he thought, were merely a way for inept travellers to disguise their incompetence and issue a license to lecture. Carruthers, on the other hand, was always eager to advise and encourage young people. Shortly after the Long Rider’s death in 1962, the equally famous camel traveller and Central Asian explorer, Owen Lattimore, recalled the man who had encouraged him to follow the caravan trail across Mongolia.

Carruthers, Lattimore recalled, did not seek fame but truth. Self-glory he disdained, in favour of knowledge. Truth he served, while pride he ignored.





Oh, to be twenty-five, young and in love. For that was what George Cayley was, when he set out in 1852 to ride across one of the most romantic countries in the world. Accompanied by a fellow wandering spirit, the young Englishmen donned the dashing clothes of caballeros, bought two fiery steeds called the Moor and the Cid, then never looked back. Having just arrived from England, with its enthusiastic embrace of the mechanical marvels of the Victorian age, Cayley appreciated and wrote about the still-tranquil life he discovered in Spain. A student of the classics, he wrote movingly about the landscape before the intrusion of the motorized age. The young horseman saw no trains, just lonely mountains. He found few good roads, but plenty of sun-swept villages. He enjoyed scanty fare, but mixed with jubilant people. His journey took him through a slumbering España, from brooding Gibraltar, past glorious Granada, round Ronda, across Segovia and on to the peaks of the Pyrenees. Thus, it was while he was Intoxicated with the magic of Spain, that Cayley stumbled on the birthplace of that country’s greatest literary work of art. At the village of Argamasilla del Alba, the young writer made a pilgrimage to the cellar where “Don Quixote” had been written. It was there, in a damp, underground cell that Miguel Cervantes had penned the magnificent novel, while draped in chains.  Cayley's resulting book, Bridle Roads of Spain, is the most beautifully written equestrian travel account of the 19th century.

Evliya Çelebi - rode in Europe, Asia and Africa in the mid-1600s. Considered the most famous Historical Long Rider of the Ottoman Empire, the famous Turkish author wrote that a journey was sometimes comparable to "a fragment of hell!" Çelebi’s journeys formed an important part of the first modern study of “Long Riding in Turkey,” which was written by the Turkish scholar, Uğurhan Acar.







Olive Murray Chapman has been described as a “determined English lady traveller of legend.”

When reviewing travel literature it is easy to forget the social restraints, not to mention physical dangers, which added additional burdens to independent female travellers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Olive Chapman was one of that rare breed who refused to be kept at home by such “stuff and nonsense.”

After her husband was killed during the First World War, the young widow determined to make the most of the education provided to her by her surgeon father. Ignoring criticism, she instead followed in the hoofprints of that former famous lady Long Rider author, Isabella Bird. Instead of remarrying, Chapman set out not only to see the world’s more exotic places, but to record her experiences on paper.

Her first journey took her to Iceland, which she eagerly explored on horseback. Not being content to merely recite the history of the remote island, Chapman made it her mission to also interview women in the less frequented portions of the tiny kingdom. During her intensive ride across the rugged terrain she also created beautiful water colours, as well as describing the great social struggle which had occurred between the old Norse religion and Christianity. Though she employed local guides, Chapman made her own decisions, which included climbing to the rim of a bubbling crater emitting noxious fumes. Nor was she put off by the many rushing rivers she routinely rode her pacing pony through. Her journey provided her with enough material to write her first book, which was aptly entitled Across Iceland: The Land of Frost and Fire.

Having established her independence, Chapman went on to explore Cyprus and Madagascar. However, her most challenging journey occurred when she set off to cross the Arctic Circle in Lapland. In the company of a single guide, she rode a sleigh drawn by reindeer during this remarkable journey. When Chapman died in England at the age of 85 in 1977, the New York Times concluded, “Everybody told her she couldn’t do it, that nobody had ever done it, and so she set forth and did it.”



In 1414 a Chinese diplomat named Chen Cheng became an unlikely Long Rider when he 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. Sally Church recently completed the first translation of the Long Rider’s diary. The result is a day-to-day account which has the ring of authenticity about it. Chen Cheng runs into many problems, all of which he records. While these include snow storms and bad trails, one of the most telling is the brief account of how the horses drown trying to cross the river. There are many occasions during the nine-month journey when Chen and his friends are just too tired to continue, preferring instead to take several days away from the intense rigours of their saddles. This remarkable diary is now considered
the oldest known example of a Historical Long Rider’s “Story from the Road.”

Thanks to research undertaken by Professor Dr. Georg Jäger at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in München, Germany, the Guild has learned of the important journey made by Daniel Chodowiecki, a renowned 18th century Polish artist and Historical Long Rider. Though he spent most of his life in Berlin, after a thirty-year absence, Chodowiecki decided to ride back to Danzig (Gdañsk) in Poland, where he had been born. His book, Journey from Berlin to Gdansk ("Die Reise von Berlin nach Danzig") was published in 1773. It not only preserves vital details of how European equestrian travel was undertaken in that era, the volume contains accurate images depicting the Long Rider and his horse on the road. Thanks to Chodowiecki’s ride, Long Riders from Germany and Poland have been inspired to open an international trail which will encourage equestrian travel between the two countries.






Alberta Claire, "the Girl from Wyoming," made one of the most remarkable rides of the early twentieth century.  The daughter of an English sea-captain who settled in frontier Wyoming, young Alberta set off in 1912 on an 8,000 mile journey which took her from Wyoming to Oregon, south to California, across the deserts of Arizona, and on to a triumphant arrival in New York City.

The photograph, taken during the course of her journey, depicts Alberta and her horse Bud on the beach in front of the well-known San Francisco tourist attraction, The Cliff House.

The diminutive pistol-packing Long Rider undertook her journey for two special reasons. Though few people now recall, women were denied the right to vote in 1912. Furthermore, polite society expected women to ride in a side saddle. Thus Alberta made her ride in an effort to promote the still-revolutionary ideas of a woman's right to vote and her right to ride astride!  After Teddy Roosevelt endorsed women's suffrage in the Presidential election of that year, the 500 year old use of the side saddle disappeared from use almost overnight thanks to Alberta Claire and women like her.

In a further astonishing discovery, The Long Riders' Guild has documented how Alberta then rode from New York to El Paso, Texas.  Upon receiving news of the ongoing Mexican revolution, Alberta crossed the border where she interviewed and photographed the famous guerrilla leader, Pancho Villa.  Furthermore, Alberta was instrumental in filming Villa during the 1914 battle of Ojinaga. A 2003 film starring Antonio Banderos as Pancho Villa, recounted the making of this movie, but failed to recognise the importance of Alberta Claire.  This legendary Long Rider may well have been the first female film producer in history!

Despite her colourful and well-documented early life, The Guild can find no trace of Alberta Claire after the publication of her Mexican movie story in 1916.  If any of our visitors have any clues, please contact The Guild.

Click here to read a hair-raising story by Alberta.

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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 the most dangerous and inaccessible places on the globe. Case in point was his decision to lead a mounted expedition of Torgut tribesmen into Tibet! The official reason for Clark’s decision to “invade” this mountainous kingdom on horseback in 1949 was his decision to prepare an impregnable base for General Ma Pa-fang, a violently anti-communist Moslem general. Yet romantic adventure ran deep in Clark, which helps to explain why he was journeying through one of the world's least known and most forbidding regions in the centre of Asia. He was also eager to find and measure a mysterious mountain in the Amne Machin range rumoured to be higher than Mount Everest. The only problem was that the sacred mountain was guarded by the fearsome Ngolok tribesmen. The Marching Wind is thus the panoramic story of Clark’s mounted exploration in the remote and savage heart of Asia, a place where adventure, danger, and intrigue were the daily backdrop to wild tribesman and equestrian exploits.  

Click here to read a story about "Long Riders on the Roof of the World: Two Centuries of Tibetan Equestrian Travel."

Clark had been travelling in wild places long before this journey. By 1934, although only 26 years old, he was already armed with a keen eye, a sense of humour, no regrets and his trusty Colt 45 pistol. Clark delights in telling his readers how he outsmarts warlords, avoids executioners, gambles with renegades and hangs out with an up and coming Communist leader named Mao Tse Tung. As he relates in his earlier book, A Wanderer Till I Die, the young man from San Francisco floats effortlessly from one adventure to the next. Yet The Marching Wind was originally published shortly before the author’s death from injuries he received while exploring the Amazon rainforest.

Starting in 1787, Thomas Clarkson spent seven years in the saddle, riding an estimated 35,000 miles throughout Great Britain, all the while lecturing on the evils of slavery, an institution which he helped bring to an end in England.
Hugh Clapperton – (1788 – 1827) Set out from Tripoli in 1822, crossing the sandy wasteland, and reaching the frontier town of Sokoto, the capital of the Fula Empire.
Click here to read "Riding Across the Sahara," an exciting Story from the Road by Jamie Bruce-Lockhart, who has edited and published Clapperton's journals, "Difficult and Dangerous Roads."
Joseph Clements - Rode from Kharkov, in the Ukraine, to Novorossisk on the Black Sea in 1919.



Even though John Talbot Clifton (1868-1928) was born into a life of wealth and privilege, the English aristocrat suffered from a serious affliction. His life revolved around his insatiable desire to roam the world.

He set off when still in his early twenties, determined to see the world, and soon circumnavigated the globe twice.

Never afraid to live rough and travel hard, he ventured to South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, China, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, India and Russia, to name just a few.

When the celebrated Historical Long Rider “Gentleman” Harry de Windt was making his famous land crossing from Paris to New York, he was surprised to find a fellow European making his way towards him across the frozen Siberian waste. It was Talbot Clifton.

But the young explorer was no mere travel junky. Soon after he first reached America he wasted no time before he set about romancing the famous actress, Lily Langtry. But even the beauty of the “Jersey Lily” couldn’t keep Talbot Clifton on a leash and he continued to wander the world. Eventually the call of the Sahara lured Talbot Clifton to his doom. He set off on horseback in 1927 in a vain attempt to reach the legendary Timbuktu. The man who had seen most of the world never saw that distant desert metropolis. He died and his embalmed body was returned and buried on his estate in Scotland.

cobbett.jpg (9464 bytes) William Cobbett (1762-1835) was an essayist, politician, agriculturalist, journalist, and equestrian traveller. The son of a labourer, Cobbett was self taught. He enlisted in the British Army, then fled to Philadelphia to avoid prosecution for demanding a decent wage for his fellow soldiers. After several years in exile, Cobbett returned to England where he became politically active, eventually winning a seat in Parliament. In the early 1820s the new MP set out on horseback to make a series of personal tours through the English countryside. These observations were collected and make up the two volumes of Rural Rides. The two books are written in some of the finest prose to grace the English language. Considered one of the best accounts of rural England ever written – they are detailed, factual, filled with shrewd observation and remain enduring classics.
Codman.JPG (260875 bytes) John Codman was a sea captain by trade, but spent his leisure hours in old age on land riding his mare, Fanny.  A self-confessed "septuagenarian,” Codman was never shy about sharing his horse-based opinions. Walking, Codman said, was a “solitary entertainment” and the bicycle he dismissed as being “unnatural.” Thus it was from the back of his horse that the old sea captain sailed over the land of his birth. His once-famous book, Winter Sketches from the Saddle was first published in 1888. It recommends riding for your health and describes Codman’s many equestrian journeys through New England during the winter of 1887. “There is no greater pleasure than to find myself on a horse,” Codman wrote.
Henry J. Coke enjoys the reputation for being the most remarkable, if overlooked, early 19th century Long Rider known to The Long Riders’ Guild. Having heard of the California gold strike, Coke journeyed to St. Louis in 1849 and then set out to ride to the Pacific ocean in the company of several so-called ‘mountain men.’ Though the Americans were reduced to starving wrecks, many of whom eventually died en route, Coke eventually reached Oregon alone. No sooner had he arrived than he took ship to the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii. After having ridden the Mexican horses imported into this island kingdom by the local king, Coke finally sailed to California. But having seen the hard-scramble gold fields, Coke lost interest. He returned to England, where he joined a friend from Eton, George Cayley. The two Long Riders then explored the majority of Spain on horseback, encountering many adventures and locating the cell in which Cervantes had been imprisoned and wrote “Don Quixote.” 

Click here to read "Death on the River," a hair-raising and deadly story from Coke's book.

Hermann Constan - made extensive equestrian journeys in Outer Mongolia between 1907 and 1913.
Though he is most often remembered today as being the creator of the original film, “King Kong,” Merian C. Cooper led a life so filled with adventure that his story would have amazed anyone. In the early 1920s, Cooper volunteered to fly in the Polish air force against the invading Soviet army. Shot down, the young aviator was imprisoned and nearly starved to death, before escaping his tormentors and fleeing back to Poland, where he was awarded that country’s most distinguished military medal. He next turned his attention to film making, joining up with camera man Ernest Schoedsack and American socialite, turned military spy, Margurerite Harrison. The trio journeyed to Persia, where they met the Bakhtiari nomads. During the course of making his first feature film, “Grass,” Cooper swam raging rivers, climbed ice covered peaks and rode alongside the nomads from the Persian Gulf to the pastures on the far side of the Zagros Mountains. Though Cooper went on to enjoy a successful film career, he fondly recalled his time as a Long Rider and often lamented not being able to return to Persia.

Pascal Coste was a French architect whose search for knowledge inspired him to explore Egypt and Persia on horseback. Coste’s first journey took him to Egypt in 1817, where he spent four years working as the chief engineer for the local ruler, Mehmet Ali. By 1827 Coste’s architectural drawings had attracted the attention of the French government. He was dispatched, along with the painter Eugène Napoléon Flandin, to visit Azerbaijan, Ispahan and Shiraz. Coste also inspected the ruins at Persepolis, Nineveh and Babylon, where he made many famous sketches. A tireless traveller, by the time he died at 92 Coste had explored most of Europe and Russia.

Cottu.JPG (66809 bytes) Charles Cottu - rode from Paris, France to Vienna, Austria and back in  1899.

Lady Elizabeth Craven was the youngest daughter of an English earl. A talented poet and playwright, she was married at seventeen to Lord Craven. The loveless marriage caused her to seek adventure. Separating from her husband in 1783, Lady Craven alternately rode sidesaddle, and made use of her coach, as she made a perilous journey across Europe. She visited Austria, Poland, Russia and Greece before making her way to the Ottoman court at Constantinople. In her later life she journeyed across France to Italy, under the personal protection of Napoleon, where she remained until her death in 1828.




Wilbur Cummings Jr. - In the company of fellow American, F. Bailey “Billy” Vanderhoef Jr., Wilbur Cummings set off in 1938 to ride from the Indian town of Kalimpong, over the Himalayan Mountains, to the Tibetan city of Gyantse. Thanks to the University of California Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Cummings important travel book, “A Journey to Western Tibet,” with its many historic images, has been made available to the public.

During their time together as students at Harvard University, both young men had expressed a mutual desire to visit Tibet, so when a museum offered them a chance to photograph the famous Saga Dawa religious ceremony they jumped at the chance. The highlight of this ceremony was the unveiling of a famous massive religious painting which was only shown for two hours each year.

Yet religious values couldn’t save the young travellers from noxious daily remainders. Their journey took them through the town of Phari, which had the unpleasant reputation as being the filthiest place in the world. Because of its bitterly cold climate, Phari lived in a nearly frozen state for nine months every year. As result, the residents simply threw their refuse out the window into the frozen street. Over the years the street would raise to the point that the first floor of the buildings were buried under the decay, prompting the Tibetans to simply build another floor atop the building. When Cummings and Vanderhoef rode through Phari, their horses were almost up to their knees in slime and they were forced to hold their breath as they passed through the toxic miasma.

Their efforts were rewarded however. Upon reaching the Tibetan city of Gyantse, they not only observed the special religious festival, they also procured some of the first colour photographs of Tibet. In 2008, the many paintings, sculptures, photographs and journals they had collected were donated to Tibetan Collection at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

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Robert Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) author, traveller explorer, politician and adventurer, was a man of extraordinary talents, tireless energy and considerable courage. His friend and contemporary Joseph Conrad remarked, “When I think of Cunninghame Graham, I feel as though I have lived all my life in a dark hole without seeing or knowing anything.” In a crowded life — Cunninghame Graham was variously a Member of Parliament, a gaucho in South America, a fencing master, a founder member of both the Independent Labour Party and the Scottish National Party, a rancher, horse-trainer, buffalo hunter and Long Rider through North and South America — he wrote prolifically. Known as "Don Roberto," he was the author of travel books, a biography, eleven histories of Latin America and fourteen volumes of short stories and sketches. This special collection entitled The Cunninghame Graham Collection been made possible by the enthusiastic support of the Cunninghame Graham family.  The highlight of the collection is the newly-published biography of the Scottish patriot by his great-niece, Jean Cunninghame Graham.

George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, is usually remembered for having been the late 19th century Viceroy of India who helped rescue the Taj Mahal from neglect. However, in addition to his political career, this talented leader was also a lifelong horseman whose early riding career nearly ended his life. Having suffered a spinal injury, incurred while riding as a teenager, Curzon was left in lifelong pain. Though his injury required him to wear a metal corset under his clothes, and contributed to an unfortunate impression of stiffness and arrogance, Curzon’s longing for equestrian adventure would not be denied. Despite his injury and the resultant pain, Curzon set off in 1894 to ride 3,200 kilometres across Afghanistan and into the unexplored Pamir mountains. There he established the source of the fabled Oxus river. Yet it was the legendary Pamir mountain range, which sits between today’s Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which was to provide the future Viceroy with the equestrian exploration experience necessary to equip him to ride later in Persia, India, Turkistan, the Middle East and Japan.


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