Historical Long Riders
At the dawn of the new millennium, a university librarian informed the Long Riders’ Guild that Lord Byron was an avid equestrian traveller. That surprising revelation led to the formation of the Historical Long Riders project, which in turn has collected and published the details of hundreds of amazing equestrian journeys from humanity’s past.
Listed below is a directory of those Historical Long Riders who went before us, including some unsuspected ones such as Lord Byron, Charles Darwin, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Qali Beg (above), the superb horseman who led his Kazakh tribe 3,000 miles from Sinkiang, China to safety in Kashmir, India in 1954.
These are the "Tribal Elders" who rode the world before you ever dreamed of stepping up to the stirrup. Many of their names were forgotten. Most of their epic journeys lay lost.
Yet equestrian travel is as relevant today, and resonates as deeply in our souls, as it did to Kikkuli, who rode from the land of Mitanni in 1350 B.C. Each soul honoured here swung into the saddle in a solitary movement of individual bravery. Theirs was a denial of death and a rejection of frailty. No one handed them the courage to change their own lives or granted them the valour to define the perimeter of their long-ago lives. These stars shown from their saddles, then blinked out, lost for years, or decades, or generations. For the records of man are imperfect and the memory of mankind insecure.
The Long Riders' Guild is dedicated to the preservation, documentation, and support of the world's oldest equestrian heritage and activity. Our pioneering research represents an effort not only to enshrine this collective equestrian past, but to address the mystery of our nomadic longing.
Equestrian travel offers an alternative to the competition-based, ego-dominated, sports-oriented horse world that exists today. Being a Long Rider is not about winning a ribbon in the ring. It is about making a lasting mark in your own life.
Which of you has not longed for an existence free of the dull checks and balances of how life has defined you - a clerk of mediocrity, a cog in the wheel of some nameless corporate giant, the definition of your tribal soul mirrored by the brand name you wear, or drive, or strive for?
These Historic Long Riders were not like that. They were Argonauts on horseback who set out to die rather than live like drones in the hive. Each generation bore a few Long Riders who slashed away the chains of predictability and rode out into the world in search of the unknown, aboard horses fair and tall, freed from the restraints of gravity and the village.
The Guild does not include those individuals in this section who made equestrian journeys while under military orders or during the course of business duties – i.e. soldiers or mailmen. These people did not undertake a horse trip on a voluntary basis; they were ordered or paid to do so. That is different from a Long Rider, who is a voluntary traveller.
Mankind is still the same. Little has changed since Cheops built his pyramid. Every man and woman still must realize, and then define, his or her own individual fear. Lest they accuse me of preaching some obsolete picture of ancestral courage, let me ask each of you to deny the existence of that embryo of adventure that sleeps inside each of your stillborn hearts.
Our time will seem as romantic in 1,000 years to the effete descendents of this current generation. Yet still you linger, believing those cowards who say that all the mountains have been climbed, all the white spots on the map have been defined, all the courage ever needed was taken from your grandparents. Such thoughts are not for Long Riders, they are for eunuchs living life on wheels full of emptiness. The world still belongs to those brave enough to venture out into its unknown dangers, and horses still stand eager and willing to take us there. The map of your life is yours alone to draw.
We Long Riders represent a fundamental shift in how we view and define the human-equine equation. Instead of relying on our brains to outsmart their muscles, we have opened our hearts to an inter-species understanding that was previously denied us. We Long Riders are not conquering the horse, not degrading the horse, not marginalizing the horse. We Long Riders are tossing aside our previous convictions, forgetting our national origins, ignoring our mother tongues, reaching deep inside ourselves to speak a new language - the language of the horse, the language of peace, the language of wanting and desire and unfulfilled longing and the ache of loneliness that only our horses and a never ending horizon can salve.
Gathered here are the men and women who did not care about man-made miles or setting records, for horses do not concern themselves with such silly things. These are the Long Riders who have passed on, but not before they whispered what had not been spoken, not before pointing us in the direction that they have led.
Their very variety has led to our unity and created a mounted celebration of mankind's diversity.
The Historical members of The Long Riders' Guild have been listed alphabetically, please click on the links below.