In a world all too often obsessed with youth, glamour and physical perfection, an international team of equestrian genetic volunteers is led by a Long Rider whose bravery and pluck transcends such societal vanities.
North American Long Rider Andi Mills earned entry into the Long Riders’ Guild by making a 1,500 mile journey across the United States, including a crossing of the hostile Mojave Desert. Despite having completed this difficult ride, Andi still modestly defined herself as, “a fifty-six year old, diabetic, grandmother of five, still up to meeting an awesome challenge.”
Life did indeed challenge Andi’s optimism when she swung down from the saddle, first by forcing her to deal with heart trouble and then by blinding her.
“I went from blurry to blind in eighteen days. But I don't let much slow me down,” she recalled. “That’s because there are no bounds to the human spirit! I don't even think of myself as disabled, just a little inconvenienced by my blindness.”
Andi’s philosophy of valour is in keeping with the most extraordinary Historical Long Rider of all time.
No one in the history of equestrian exploration ever accomplished a more amazing ride than that of Arthur Kavanagh. While Arthur’s life would be extraordinary by any reckoning, his status as an equestrian explorer is considered by The Long Riders’ Guild to be the most astonishing account of the nineteenth century.
What makes Arthur Kavanagh so extraordinary is that he was born without any arms or legs !
Though he lacked limbs, Arthur’s chest was muscular and his courage was supreme. After long practice, he learned to use the stumps of his arms as if they were fingers. In this way, after having been strapped into a specially constructed chair saddle, the brave and resourceful Irishman became an equestrian explorer whose boldness continues to inspire Andi and other Long Riders today.
“I think attitude is everything,” the modern Long Rider said. As their journeys through life demonstrate, Mills and Kavanagh prove that courage isn’t confined to the young or the physically perfect.
That’s why Andi is now eagerly facing the modern challenge of leading the largest equine DNA search in history. Thanks to having learned the necessary skills to live on her own, and armed with a special “talking computer,” the Long Rider turned genetic sleuth has already secured DNA samples from Mongolia, Afghanistan, Europe, Australia and the Americas.
Yet Andi isn’t working alone. She is leading a team of international volunteers, in conjunction with Voices for Horses, who are using the internet, email, Facebook, and other twenty-first century social media to create the largest global equine DNA project ever undertaken. The effort marks the launching of the most extensive use of the concept of “crowd sourcing” ever seen in the modern horse world.
“It is both a thrill and an honour to be able to participate in such a monumental project,” Andi said. “I am extremely proud to be a part of ‘Team Equus’ as this is the Mount Everest of genetic equine research.”
Andi and her team are now seeking the Top Ten most wanted DNA hair samples:
If you would like to volunteer to assist Andi, and become a member of this extraordinary international DNA collection team, please contact the World Ride.