The Long Riders' Guild

Stories from the Road



Louella and Robin Hanbury-Tenison (above) are Founding Members of the Long Riders’ Guild who journeyed through the by-ways of back country France, across the ancient pilgrim roads of Spain, from end to end in New Zealand, across Albania and along the length of the Great Wall of China.

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Robin's Rescue

Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tenison are among the original Founding Members of the Long Riders’ Guild. On March 16th 2020 Robin became critically ill due to the coronavirus. He was rushed from the family home in Cornwall to a hospital in Plymouth, where he was in a coma for a month, was put on a ventilator and because his kidneys began to fail, had to be put on a dialysis machine. Robin’s condition became so grave that he “spent seven weeks flickering between life and death.” In emails sent to the Guild and family friends, Louella provided a moving account that explains how a team of dedicated doctors and nurses battled to save her husband’s life and thereby brought about a medical miracle.

Impressions of Andalusia

William Somerset Maugham was an English playwright and novelist. He was among the most popular writers of his era and, reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s. His most famous books include "Of Human Bondage" and "The Razor's Edge." Yet prior to becoming a famous author, the twenty-three year old Englishman decided to seek adventure overseas. One of his earliest works dealt with the equestrian journey he made thorough Spain in 1898. In "The Land of the Blessed Virgin - Impressions of Andalusia" Maugham recounted his ride from Sevilla to Carmona and back. This accurate account captured the look and feel of a country before the onset of a deadly civil war and industrialization changed it forever.


In the summer of 1937 English Long Rider Edward Percy Stebbings wrote an article describing how a host of British horse riders set out from eight starting points, bound for a central meeting place on the south coast at Eastbourne. Not only were the editors of the sponsoring magazine surprised that more than twice as many people as expected decided to ride across Southern England, they also reported that one contestant came from as far away as Norway. Nor was an age a factor, as the oldest rider was 76 and the youngest only 11 years old. The greatest Long Rider of the twentieth century, Aimé Tschiffely, went down to Eastbourne to meet the riders. (PDF)


Arthur’s Promise - A Family Legend
In 1955 Arthur “Hardcase” Elliott rode his horse Goldflake from Land’s End to John O’Groats. It is possible that he was inspired by
Aimé Tschiffely and Margaret Leigh, and also possible that he in turn inspired Bill Holt.



Riding from John O’Groats to Lands End

Vyv Wood-Gee and her daughter, Elsa, set off in 2006 to ride 1,335 miles from John O'Groats, Scotland to Lands End, Cornwall. Vyv’s story “And Did These Feet…..” recounts their journey.


The Long Trot – From Scotland to Cornwall by Horse
In 2007 English Long Rider Grant Nicolle rode his horse, Marv, along the historic trail that stretches from John O’Groats in Scotland, across England, to Land’s End in Cornwall. Grant recounts the first week of his journey, which ranged from being nervous about setting off to rescuing his horse from quicksand.

Adventures on the Way from Italy to Wales
Long Rider Jeremy James recounts an extremely amusing and highly entertaining episode that happened during his journey from Italy to Wales with his Criollo gelding, Gonzo.  It involves a lot of wine and a nun on a bicycle!  "Vestments billowing black behind her, her starched wimple flapping, bike-bell ringing, she came pelting toward us like some demented terrestrial bat."


An Equestrian Pilgrimage from England to Spain
The lure of a long-distance ride leads Mefo Phillips to team up with her sister Susie and their spotted Appaloosa horses Leo, a flirt with a passion for Mars Bars, and affectionate Apollo, for a journey along the medieval Way of St. James from Canterbury Cathedral to Santiago Cathedral. Nearing the end of their journey they encounter an unexpected obstacle.


Riding to the Field of Stars
 A few minutes before finishing an update to the Guild website, an email came in. Source unknown. Sender unknown. The computers were due to be shut down that instant. The work was done. But an intuitive hunch told us to spend a second to investigate this seemingly unimportant email.
What we discovered was a startling story of Hjoerdis Rickert, a nine-year-old Swedish child who had ridden 1,200 miles in 1986 across the mountains of two countries. Suddenly it didn't matter how tired we were, or how hard we had worked to bring this vision called The Long Riders' Guild into existence. Here was a stranger whose message summed up everything we believed in - a Long Rider by instinct who summoned up the courage to take a life-changing journey on a horse that she loved. This is the tale of one of the youngest people ever to become a Long Rider.


Riding in the Czech Republic
In the first equestrian travel article in the Czech language, Dalibor Balut recounts how his journey around the Czech Republic in 2015 took him on the route previously ridden by Jan Žižka (left), a national hero to the Czech people.


Lithuania’s Riding Renaissance
Once Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union had been assured, the country’s riders began to revive their ancient equestrian culture. Not only were traditions rejuvenated, a series of remarkable journeys were taken on Lithuania’s famous Žemaitukai horses. Gintaras Kaltenis is one of the modern Lithuanian Long Riders who is leading an effort to reclaim his country’s heritage and protect its horses. Having authored a book about his country’s riding renaissance, he agreed to answer questions for a special interview.


Adventures in Greece
Having lived in Greece for many years, British Long Rider Penny Turner saddled her horse, George, and set off to explore the fascinating country. In a poignant article entitled “Exploring the Wild West of Northern Greece,” the renowned naturalist recalls how, while riding through the remote north of the country, she encountered Nature’s beauties and Mankind’s evils.


A History of Albanian Equestrian Travel

In 2007 two Founding Members of the Long Riders’ Guild, Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tenison, completed an equestrian journey across Albania. But a study reveals the fascinating story about the history of equestrian travel in this almost-forgotten country.


Travels with Lord Byron across Albania

Lord Byron enjoys a reputation for being one of England's most famous poets. His flamboyant life has been inspiring books since his untimely death from malaria in 1824. A mystique surrounds his life, his looks, his loves, and his loss. Yet it is often the object resting in plain sight that is overlooked in favor of a more exotic piece of a famous person's life. Perhaps that is why all the biographers have failed to tarry over the equestrian journey Lord Byron made in 1809. The country he chose, Albania, had been a backwater satrap of the Ottoman Empire since 1478. Its hidden valleys were inhabited by fierce mountain tribesmen. The country's ruler was the very definition of an "Oriental despot". Albania had nothing to show an educated, sophisticated, elitist such as Lord Byron, except the raw courage of its unvanquished people. Perhaps that is what lured Lord Byron, and his diary-writing friend, J.C. Hobhouse to ride through this savage mountain kingdom? Regardless of what prosaic cause took them there, the world of literature changed forever when Byron wrote his famous poem, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" upon the completion of the journey


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