Long Riders Guild
Few lives have been filled with so many enormous events. When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952 Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union. That mighty empire disappeared and the world changed but for 70 years there was one political and emotional stability in millions of people’s lives: Queen Elizabeth II.
The longest reigning British monarch in history, she was Commander in Chief of the Army, Head of the Church of England, attended 21,000 public engagements, gave her Royal Assent to 4,000 Acts of Parliament and raised more than £1.4 billion for worthy causes. She met five Popes and thirteen US Presidents. She greeted 15 British prime ministers from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss.
Yet politics never dimmed her passion for horses. She first mounted at the age of 3 and spent the next 93 years of her life, riding, raising and racing thousands of horses. This unique biography offers the first chronological equestrian review of this remarkable royal horse woman.
When asked to think of the famous monuments in England’s ancient capital famous names spring to mind including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower of London. As is often the case, horse history is overlooked. That is why many people are unaware of the Royal Stables created by King Richard II in 1377.
The renowned British equestrian historian Dr. Paula Sells has composed a beautifully illustrated article which reveals the equine treasure that has served the Royal family for 645 years.
It took more than five years to complete this intensive examination that documents how horses deeply influenced the personal and professional life of England’s most famous author. Her Majesty was the first to inspect this treasure trove that contains a rare pictorial biography, the first illustrated list of equine actors and an outstanding collection of articles.
Shakespeare and Horses: Facts and Findings is a special summary article designed to provide the average reader with an easy to understand but vitally important list of facts about how horses exerted such a strong influence on Shakespeare’s personal and professional life. It contrasts the remarkable differences between the equestrian worlds of Queen Elizabeth 1 and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Let me ask you a question. What do these six men have in common: Jonathan Swift, Lord Byron, Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, William Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene?
If you answered, “They are all famous English authors” you would be partially correct. If you neglected to add that they were all enthusiastic Long Riders whose equestrian journeys influenced their lives and literature, then you will have missed a vital historical fact.
Darwin reveled in the horseback adventures he made in the jungles of Brazil, across the pampas of Argentina and through the Australian outback. If the father of natural selection has been stereotyped as a geriatric with dyspepsia, then could the Bard of Avon likewise have been misinterpreted? This portion of the Shakespeare Equestrian Collection considers that possibility.
The facts are obvious. Scottish Long Rider Louis Hall pioneered the first modern equestrian trail from Italy to Spain. The journey took 110 days to complete, with 84 days spent in the saddle.
Louis rode 2,789 kilometres (1,733 miles). It was the spiritual dimension of the journey that took the young Long Rider by surprise. He learned that in these uncertain times his adventure managed to untie the angst and fears of hearts and minds everywhere he rode. This is the remarkable story of a traveller who discovered that, “I once knew horses to be healers. I then understood them to be unifiers. I now know them to be companions in a world that thirsts for healing, unity and friendship.”
After completing his journey across Europe, Scottish Long Rider Louis Hall is preparing to ride “Ocean to Ocean” across the United States. His route will take him from Florida’s Atlantic to California’s Pacific.
He said, “I aim to travel across America by horse because this animal has no time for creed or colour. The horse does not judge you or receive you from where you come from, which political party you align with, your sexual preference, but it measures you equally by what you give to the world around you. It lives off peaceful hearts and minds and cultivates companionship and, above all, connection. This connection is one that unifies people from all walks of life. The horse brings people closer together by opening us up to ourselves. As I have discovered in my previous rides, the nature of the horse sees through the troubles that humans create, thus uniting us in a pure and untainted way.”
Greta and Alejandro Matos became members of the Long Riders’ Guild, the international association of equestrian explorers, when they rode across Chile. When they set off across Northern Patagonia in 2022, their daughter Sofía Alegría joined them. Upon the completion of the journey Sofía became the youngest person ever to be made a Member of the Long Riders’ Guild. Yet as she rode with Sofía Alegría sitting in front, Greta realised that the Little Long Rider symbolised every child whose future is in danger because of climate change. In a remarkable introspection the Mother, Long Rider and Environmentalist explains “Our children, just like our Earth, hold the key to our collective future. If there was ever a time to reconnect with the bravery within our hearts, face our fears about our uncertain future, and turn toward the unknown with curiosity, it is now.”
German Long Rider Sabine Keller has ridden more than 40,000 miles. In a special report created for HRL’s environmental edition, Sabine describes the many alarming changes she witnessed during her latest equestrian journey across Europe.
Long Rider author and environmentalist Greta Matos knows that an on-going series of climatic disasters not only cause physical damage but also inflicts emotional harm to millions. Greta wisely wrote, “When we know better, we do better!” She then compiled a list of organisations and websites which provide vital information and a source of inspiration for the public.