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Astonishing Rides, Rescues and Horse Races

One of the contributing reasons that the equestrian charlatan, Frank Hopkins, was able to perpetuate the largest horse hoax in American history was due to the fact that most  details regarding genuine 19th century endurance races had fallen into obscurity. To rectify this lack of academic resources, the LRG-AF has published here the world's largest collection of articles about astonishing Rides, Rescues and Horse Races! 

Listed here, for the first time, are some of the amazing endurance races and astonishing rescues.  Most of them are desperate journeys for help by men and women trying to save the lives of their comrades, or to stay alive themselves.   In some cases, the horse takes his rightful place as hero of the hour;  in others he is simply a necessary means of transport, and in a very few, sadly, he dies to save people trapped in desperate circumstances.

As most people know, the Turkomen people of Central Asia routinely rode up to 100 miles a day when raiding other tribes.  Their horses were then expected to travel 100 miles back again at full speed, carrying the loot, which usually included a woman!  These stories show that people of European origin were capable, when necessary, of travelling extraordinary distances too. 

Showing off his Stamina

General Miles making 90-mile horseback ride.

Tries to do it in eight hours with relays.

Washington, DC.

July 14 1903

Great interest is taken here in a 90-mile ride which General Miles is making today from Fort Sill to Fort Reno.  It was not known when the General left that he contemplated any such feat, but it is recalled today by his clerks that before leaving he made enquiries as to distances from point to point in Oklahoma, and took with him maps of the country surrounding Fort Sill.  The statement that he is making this 90-mile ride in eight hours with nine relays of horses, to show that he should not be retired, is absurd, owing to the fact that his retirement at the age of 64 next month is compulsory by law.  General Miles probably desires to set at rest certain gossip as to his physical condition by making this ride, a task which would prove severe for any man in the prime of life, no matter what his previous training. 

 

General Miles made it in Triumph

Kansas City, Missouri.

July 14 1903

General Nelson Miles, as black with dust and grime as the plains over which he had come, but as fresh as the 34-year-old officer who had been his companion, entered Fort Reno at 2.10 o’clock this afternoon, completing the longest horseback ride ever made by a commanding general of the army.  It is 90 miles from Fort Sill to Fort Reno, and General Miles made it exactly, according to schedule, in eight hours’ actual riding time – 10 hours 20 minutes from start to finish.

Just for good measure, the General called for a horse an hour after his arrival at the fort, and rode four miles to El Reno to take the train for the North.  The day was remarkably hot – above 90 degrees before 8 o’clock this morning, and nearly 100 degrees before the ride was completed, but General Miles did not seem to mind it.  A relay of horses had been arranged for him at 10-mile intervals.  The only horseman who stayed with him throughout the journey was Captain Sayers of the Eighth Cavalry.

The first thirty-five miles of General Miles’s long ride was made in record time, the distance being covered in 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Aimé Tschiffely, the greatest Long Rider of the twentieth century, is still making the news in 2009!  Lynda Osborne has published two very good articles on Suite 101

In this modern era of countless endurance races, it is easy to forget that the first great American endurance ride, that hard-riding granddaddy of them all, the Great American Cowboy Race, started as a joke.  Before it was over the 1,000 mile free-for-all had pitted Eastern sentimentalists against Western realists, introduced the concept of veterinarian inspections into horse racing, got Buffalo Bill Cody shaking his bearded head over a legal headache and given news-hungry Europeans plenty of stories about daring cowboy racers like Rattlesnake Pete riding half-wild broncos called Poison and Geronimo.

The 300 Mile Endurance Ride of 1919

Forgotten Heroes - the 20,000 mile horse trek across the US starting in 1912.  This story is on  the Internet equestrian news website, Horsetalk, and can also be found on The Long Riders' Guild website.

The Great Horse Race from Evanston, Wyoming to Denver, Colorado in May, 1908.

Four short articles entitled "Pony Race from Chicago to Atlanta" (1895), "Cowboys in Long Race between Deadwood and Omaha" (1902), "President Disapproves of Long Race" (1902), and "Tables Turned on the Cowboys" (1893).

A Contest of Endurance: Horses to run Against Bicyclists for Seventy-two Hours - 1894.

Bicyclist caught Runaway Horse - Rode a Half-Mile Race to Save the Life of a Little Child - 1894.

Calamity Jane's crazy horse race.

The Horses of Central Asia - a fascinating Russian military study translated by British Military Intelligence in 1883.  Click here to go to the section of this document which deals with amazingly long journeys.

Historic Horse Drives.

George Cheney made a wild ride in an attempt to save an entire village when the Williamsburg dam burst in 1874.

Ride for Help!  It was 1866:  Surrounded, low on food and ammo - the only hope was Fort Laramie, 235 miles away.  Could he make it?

Clarintha's Long Ride - The Old West had many courageous and hardy women pioneers, but the ride of this woman surpasses all in female bravery.

The incredible story of "Pony Bob" Haslam - most famous of the Old West Mounted Mailmen.

Remme's Race for a Fortune.  For six days he rode relentlessly on, hardly daring to sleep in this fantastic, little-known horseback race against time in 1855.

Ride through the "Journey of Death."  In 1851, the Apaches wanted John Cremony's horse, and they were determined to get it.

Juan Flaco - California's Paul Revere.  Juan Flaco's 1846 feat remains one of the truly great sagas of American history.  He rode 52 hours to carry a message for help for the Los Angeles garrison, covering more than 400 miles.

Dick King's 600-Mile Ride.  In 1842 a young Englishman, hunter and wagoner rode 600 miles in ten days on one horse - to get help.

A Message to Kearney.  Colonel John Charles Fremont rode from Los Angeles to Monterey and return in 1847 to carry an extraordinary message to General Stephen W. Kearney.

The Tremendous Ride of Post Rider Israel Bissell.  In 1775  Israel Bissell went much further, much faster, rode much longer, and was probably responsible for the muster of many, many more patriots than Paul Revere was.

Dick Turpin's Famous Ride from London to York in 1735.

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