So it’s five o’clock in the morning in France. I’m up early to continue writing the massive “Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration.” It’s a daunting task and I’m not looking forward to another day of pounding the keyboard. Before I lose myself in describing all of the disgusting insects which feed on unsuspecting Long Riders worldwide, I decide to reward myself by taking a peek at Sea’s blog. I’ve been aware of her “ocean to ocean” ride for a while now and have an increasing feeling that this is an increasingly important journey on many levels.
Lucky I did, for what I found was worth the visit.
Something important occurred when the five original Long Riders came from three countries to hold the first international meeting of the Guild. Founder Member DC Vision said, “They either get it in ten miles or they never get it at all.”
What I saw in Sea’s latest blog entry proved that she has found that elusive “it.”
Having published more than 200 equestrian travel titles, and read many more besides, I can tell you who the liars are, who killed their horses, who boasted needlessly, who stole from their hosts, who cloaked their money-making schemes inside a phony charity, who exaggerated the level of danger, who abused the public’s trust, who misled the media into thinking they were the only equestrian traveller out on the road. All those shameful names, and their black-hearted crimes, are known to the Founders of the Guild. Those collective misdeeds prove that no matter how worthy the goal, there will always be a few who exploit the love, courage, endurance and trust of the horse for selfish personal reasons.
Luckily the vast majority of people who set out to become Long Riders aren’t like that. They’re usually solitary souls, like Sea, who are riding towards the distant horizon, in both a geographic and spiritual sense. They’re trying to discover something intangible. It’s this deeply entrenched itch that stirs in the DNA of a rare few which will result in a urbanized pedestrian becoming that rare equestrian exception, a Long Rider.
Reading Sea’s latest blog entry, “Beauty, Awe and a broken toe… ” reinforced many things for me.
Her horses are friends, guides, work-mates, companion souls – unlike so many millions of horses seen in the merciless competitive horse world, which treats equines like disposable machines to be used hard, then discarded when their financial benefits have expired.
She writes with conviction about the magic of the natural world around her, recognizing its beauty but aware of its dangers.
Her acknowledgement of fellow Long Rider Doug Preston demonstrates that her ego is not in need of constant coaxing. There’s none of the “I’m the first, fastest, bravest, sexiest” nonsense which taints the empty boasts of a mounted mountebank. Sea is following in the hoofprints of other Long Riders, like Messanie Wilkins, and she has the courage to say so.
And well done her for not whining. When Harry de Windt rode across Persia in the winter of 1890, it was so cold his cigar froze to his lips. Like those bold Long Riders of the past, Sea laughs off injuries, scoffs at a broken toe, drinks a wee dram of whisky and simply gets on with the journey.
Thankfully, she’s discreet. There is an alarming trend in the exploration world for travellers to report on every minor nuance of every hour of every day. They spew twits, spam us with false distress calls about minor setbacks, fill our in-box with countless boring photographs. In contrast, Sea knows when to be quiet. In a world increasingly filled with senseless electronic chatter, filled with the meaningless dribble of fools, she says little but makes each word count.
Finally, if it’s true that an intense equestrian journey can awaken our soul, then I sense that’s what happening to Sea. The world looks different to her. And because she’s gracious and generous enough to occasionally share the vital parts of her journey, we are privileged to observe this strange and rare equestrian event taking place.
I wish Sea well on her ride towards personal discovery. Pats to her ponies.