As Equestrian Ambassadors – Cheval Ambassade, Basha and CuChullaine hosted the first global meeting of Long Riders, (pictured above) which was attended by equestrian explorers from five continents, as well as His Excellency, Ambassador Mirre of Argentina, famed travel writers Sir Christopher Ondaatje and Lady Polwarth, British publisher Christopher Foyle and representatives of the London Times.
Throughout their work as publishers, researchers, authors and equestrian explorers the O’Reillys have documented how the horse transcends the concepts of time and nationalism. For example, while it is commonly known that the Greek hero, Perseus, rode winged Pegasus, few realize that the North Korean capital of Pyongyang is adorned with statues of the mythical Chollima, the legendary winged horse who performed heroic feats in Korea’s time of need.
For countless ages there have been inspiring tales of fearless and superb horsemen and women who climbed onto their horses and set off in search of adventure and freedom. The Csikos of Hungary, the Spahi of Algeria, the Gaucho of Argentina, the Gardian of France, the Cossack of Russia, the Llanero of Venezuela and the Cowboy of Montana are all part of the great global equestrian culture which celebrates mankind's mounted diversity.
Yet humanity finds itself once again facing ancient evils caused by poisoned nationalism, narrow personal interest, religious intolerance, and cultural prejudice. In addition international strife, economic strain and climatic challenges are also imperilling the planet. At such times it is vital to recall that there are splendid people in every country, all of whom face these terrible common dangers, and that one way to combat the mist of misunderstanding is to acknowledge the horse humans who speak with one heart.
There is a fresh wind of thought blowing across the equestrian world, a wind that will see this new century throwing aside outdated ideas and embracing innovative values. In the ensuing struggle mankind needs to tolerate other cultures, trust its neighbours and extend an equestrian message of hope. What are also needed are equestrian leaders who demonstrate that deeds in themselves are meaningless, unless they are for some higher purpose.
One such role model was the enlightened British Long Rider, Sir Malcolm Darling. In the winter of 1946-47, with the British set to partition the subcontinent into the separate nations of India and Pakistan, Darling set off on a dramatic 1,400 mile ride to interview the people about to undergo this traumatic political upheaval. Thanks to his tolerance and insight, the English free thinker was able to describe far more than the dusty plains, great rivers and mighty mountains which the average traveller would have noted. Instead Rajput and Sikhs confided in him, while Muslims and Hindus provided him with shelter and secrets. Using his horse as the key to each village, Darling noted the size of the fields, as well as the fear of the future.
Though their route does not take them through India, Basha and CuChullaine O’Reilly will be following in Darling’s hoofprints by adhering to his enlightened equestrian ideals.
Current equestrian events are designed to encourage competition, commercialism, nationalism and a fear of others. Yet equestrian travel is the antithesis of any kind of ism, be it sexism, ageism, racism, chauvinism, nationalism or fanaticism. Nor can the ancient art of equestrian travel be sold like a jar of jam or reduced into a dossier of dust-covered facts. That is why the World Ride is based instead on the expression of principles, not a search for profits. It represents a collective quest to enrich our planetary equine knowledge.
Lying at the heart of this new philosophy is the international Long Riders’ Guild, whose deeper meaning has always been to promote the Brotherhood of Man – both between individuals and nations. Long Riders are Mounted Messengers of Peace, open-minded and tolerant of the rich cultural traditions to be found among the world’s diverse equestrian cultures.
Because they are multi-lingual, multi-cultural and have had a wide variety of experiences in a host of nations, CuChullaine and Basha will be meeting with political, scientific and equestrian leaders in every country so as to discuss the need to preserve the integrity of native equestrian cultures. Thanks to Basha’s equine DNA project, they will consider the global need for all countries that harbour an endangered equestrian breed to protect these priceless equestrian treasures. They will also encourage ‘trade not aid,’ by urging others to travel to the countries along their route and ride native horses with local tour guides.
It was the mounted Mughal Emperor Akbar whose philosophy of “sul-el-kul” or “universal good” underpinned his governance and promoted minority rights and religious freedom. As history proves, the practice of riding virtuously impacts the ethics of the surrounding society. Likewise, the diplomatic goals of the World Ride are completely in the open and have their roots in the sands of time. Respect and harmony, exploration and education, hope and love all become part of an unprecedented equestrian mission, one which emphasizes the eternal truth that the majority of people are anxious to co-exist.
An ancient Long Rider once warned that no one makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. Yet it would be a tragedy to think that all the solutions are to be found simply by external solutions, for you cannot change the world before you change yourself.
That is why the Sufi poet Rumi affirmed, "The road leads neither East nor West, but within."
One World - One Ride