Who would be better suited for a Long Ride on
horseback (a continuous journey of a thousand or more miles), a
nine-year-old child or a sixty-nine-year-old grandfather?
Do you know that five- and nine-year-old boys hold the record
for riding horseback across the United States, ocean to ocean?
Bud and Temple Abernathy rode across the U.S. in 1910 in 62
days, and hold the record to date.
You may be asking yourself, "What kind of mother would let
those young boys do that?" Well
actually, their mother died shortly before their journey began. But
their father was a loving and caring man, though he may be guilty of
exploiting his courageous sons. He
was also a U.S. Marshall and a friend of Theodore Roosevelt.
Bud and Temple Abernathy’s wild adventures
included their first Long Ride from Oklahoma to New York, to ride in
Theodore Roosevelt’s homecoming parade as he returned from Europe.
Then their father purchased a car for the boys to drive and return to
Oklahoma. Their stories can be found in the delightful book titled, Bud
and Me; The True Adventures of the Abernathy Boys.
Do you know
the record for the first horseback
ride from the Arctic Circle in Canada to the Equator in Ecuador was
completed by a man who just celebrated his sixty-ninth birthday and he
is currently on another Long Ride?
Gene Glasscock rode his historic ride from the Arctic Circle to
the Equator in 1984. He
is currently riding on a three-year journey to all the state capitals
of the lower 48 states. Gene
has been meeting with Governors from each state, and he has currently
ridden over 4000 miles of his 20,000-mile journey.
While heading towards the White House, Gene had hopes of
meeting President George Bush and possibly having him sit upon his
horse (also named George). Getting
"George on George" had become part of Gene's mission.
But White House staff advised Gene that the President would not
be able to meet with him. Gene's
horse George is named after the famous Long Rider George Beck, who has
special meaning to this ride. The
last Long Rider honored by a U.S. president was in 1928, when
President Calvin Coolidge greeted Aime Tschiffely at the White House.
Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss man, made one of the
most historically significant equestrian trips of the 20th century
when he rode more than 10,000 miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina to
Washington, D.C. in 1928. Aime had no previous equestrian experience and no one thought
he would reach America alive. But
he went on to be greeted at the White House by President Calvin
Coolidge, the only Long Rider ever honored this way.
His book, Tschiffely's
Ride, is one of the most famous
equestrian books ever written. This
trip paved the way for all future American Long Riders.
Gene Glasscock will not be the first to ride
horseback to all fifty states. That
honor goes to George Beck and the Overland Riders (whom Gene's horse
is named after). George and his horse, Pinto, made their historic ride in
1912. They ended their
ride in San Francisco, expecting a hero's welcome.
Instead, they were hardly noticed.
They both died tragic deaths without fame or fortune.
Long Riding is steeped in a worldwide tradition
and a couple, Basha and CuChullaine O'Reilly, (both Long Riders
themselves), have worked hard to document and preserve that history
with the Long Riders Guild.
As stated on their website, “The Long Riders' Guild is the
world's first international association of equestrian explorers. It
was formed in 1994 to represent men and women of all nations who have
ridden more than 1,000 continuous miles on a single equestrian
journey. Members currently reside in at least 35 countries.” The website tracks current expeditions (as they did my trip
from March to June of 2003, when I rode the length of California,) as
well as those Long Riders of the past.
Basha O’Reilly, who designed The Long Riders'
Guild website, rode from Russia to England. She is also the Author of
and Bureaucrats". CuChullaine O’Reilly led
a record-breaking expedition in the Karakorum mountains of Pakistan,
and he has authored Khyber Knights and The Long Riders - an
Equestrian Travel Anthology. Together they are planning the
first non-stop around-the-world equestrian journey! This three-year,
20,000 mile trip is scheduled to begin in 2005 in Paris, France.
According to Basha, there are currently about 200
Long Riders alive worldwide, and about fifty who are alive or rode in
the U.S. That is not many
when you consider over 1700 people have climbed to the summit of Mt.
Everest in the last fifty years.
That number is incredibly low when you learn there are about
1.9 million horse owners in the US and 6.9 million horses.
Who is best suited for a Long Ride?
Basha O’Reilly once said, “The Long Riders Guild is the
most exclusive club, yet the easiest to get in.”
Some may argue that riding a thousand miles isn’t easy, but
being a Long Rider is open to anyone, and anyone who rides a 1000+
mile journey is in. There
are many great equestrian travelers who had no previous equine
experience. Long Riding
or equestrian travel isn’t about making history, as much as it is a
personal journey. My
adventure fulfilled a long-time dream of mine.
It’s not about being first or fastest.
And unlike sports with rules and competition, in Long Riding
each individual sets out and defines his or her own path and journey.
Many people allow their dreams to run free, few have the
courage to follow them. Long
Riding is for anyone who desires a journey on horseback and has the
courage to make their dreams come true. I offer my best wishes and
hopes to Gene on his 69th birthday, Basha and Cuchullaine as they plan
their journey, and to anyone else who follows their dreams on a horse.