The Long Riders' Guild

Sea G Rhydr

As to this matter of the Glorious Guild of Equestrian Explorers which Basha and CuChullaine O'Reilly have manifested. If ever I wanted to be a member of a group (and I never had before) here was such a group. Have you seen the photo of the gathering in London?  Like heroes from another age - these were my rock stars!

Not that I realistically thought that they would ever accept me as a Member. I knew when I was out of my league - me with my $1 pinto gelding and my outlaw pack pony - with no fancy degrees or patrons or sponsors or name-brand equipment. I was flying by the seat of my pants, scared and more than a bit defensive. I certainly wasn't keen on following rules and being judged by people who had no idea what I was dealing with. In short, at 46 years of age, I was an adolescent Long Rider - caught on the horns of bravado and insecurity.


Which of course the Guild understood perfectly as they/you gently pulled me in to a fellowship the likes of which I thought had passed centuries ago, a fellowship of encouragement as well as accountability, one that shares hard won wisdom across continents and centuries.


The word "solidarity" springs readily to mind. From Messanie Wilkins, riding Tarzan across the USA in 1954, before there even was a Long Riders' Guild - who wrote a book about her journey, which kicked through the rest of my excuses when I read it the summer before I finally packed my ponies and started my own ride; to Katie Cooper, now a Long Rider in her own right, reaching out to me with incredible grace and compassion when I was at the lowest point of my own ride with an injured animal and her first attempt had just dead-ended for the same reason, befriending me during my long lay-up, and gently nudging me to contact the Guild, calming my fears; to Basha O'Reilly, patient with my prickly e-mails as she vetted me for Membership in the Guild, inquiring into the welfare of my ponies, my methods of funding, who I was and what I stood for, getting to know me and making sure I understood what the LRG stands for; to Doug Preston and Walter Nelson, the first Long Riders I met in person, inviting me to Walter's birthday party in Abiquiu, New Mexico as I rode through and welcoming me into the Guild as a peer; to CuChullaine O'Reilly, sending timely historical photos and stories to remind me that no matter what was happening it wasn't the first time and I wasn't alone; to Lucy Leaf, playing trail angel in Massachusetts when the ponies and I were so very weary of the trail and then coming to the Messanie Wilkins celebration and parade in Minot at Journey's end; to Jeremy James, the best pen pal and source of wisdom and laughter a Long Rider could ever hope for, reminding me to be gentle with myself when I stepped down from the saddle and re-entered "normal" life.


And always, always the remembrance of what's truly important, that which the Guild embodies and helps its Members to always hold sacrosanct. It's not the name, the fame, the hardships endured, the mountains summitted, the miles or seasons or borders crossed. It's the relationship with our equine partners that matters.


I think about the idea of a "lineage," not the literal sort of blood lineage that produces kings and cretins, but the spiritual lineage of, for example, a lama or martial arts master. (Though these tend to produce a sense of hierarchy - of which the LRG feels blessedly free.)  The art and act of mentoring is one of the most important human relationships - and behind the immensity of valuable, fascinating, historical and practical information collected and made accessible by the LRG stand the conscience and wisdom and invested intelligence of true mentors, not only CuChullaine and Basha O'Reilly, but (largely because of them) the entirety of the Guild, reminding us that we are not riding alone, sharing the stories of other Long Riders past and present, each with our place in this planet-spanning tribe, passing the gift on as we have received it, not for money, not for glory - but because it's the right thing to do! I humbly find myself now a member of this lineage, blessed by the mentorship inherent to the form. I have become a better human being - in and out of the saddle


I recognize and deeply appreciate how critically instrumental the help of the O'Reillys, and my fellow Long Riders, has been in this Sea Change. Their inspired and erudite mentorship steadied me when I wavered and trimmed my sails when I'd lost the wind. They called me to my highest, gently and persistently, believing that's who I most want to be, tactfully ignoring my failings while shining like the sun on what little virtue and grace I do possess, encouraging me to grow in positive directions. I have been so blessed, spiritually and morally, by their attention and guidance.


Thank you, Basha and CuChullaine, for two years of encouragement, advice, camaraderie, understanding, patience and psychic first aid. Most of all, thank you for envisioning and upholding the Long Riders' Guild.


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