The Long Rider: ‘I trekked across Scotland on horseback and it was a dream come true’

They were once important companions before being replaced by machinery.

But one adventurer is hoping to show that horses can still bring people together – one trek at a time.

Long rider Louis Hall, founder of charity the Big Hoof which raises money for charities through horseback challenges, has recently completed his latest ride.

He recreated the ancient pilgrimage taken by St Columba in the Sixth Century to spread Christianity across Scotland, raising nearly £7,000 along the way for charity Venture Trust.

It saw the 27-year-old journey 205 miles across Scotland, from St Andrews to Iona, on his Arabian gelding Sasha.

And it’s not the first time the pair have completed an epic trek, having ridden 1,740 miles across Europe, from Siena, Italy, to Cape Finisterre, Spain, back in 2022.

‘This trip saw the most people join in a ride so far – more than 40 participants came on board along with six horses and one dog,’ said Louis. 

‘We had all abilities and all ages, from eight to 69-years-old. Some people had ridden all of their lives, others hadn’t ridden once, one person was allergic to horses.

‘The sense of family was something that I never anticipated – individuals came and went, all for their own personal reasons, each taking away their own experiences and inspirations, yet adding their energy and spirit to the ever moving team. 

‘It was very moving for me.’


Louis discovered his passion for horses aged 18 when he went travelling with friends in Mongolia and they used ponies to travel to meet an ancient tribe in the wilderness.

In 2020 he decided to take on a charity horse ride for cystic fibrosis after he lost a close friend to the disease. 

He rode from John O’Groats to Lands End, raising £40,000 after the expedition captured the public’s imagination. 

His latest trip across Scotland took two weeks, travelling 15 miles a day on average, walking and riding for about seven hours, with a half an hour lunch stop. 

He was joined on the ride by documentary film-maker Kiki Ho, who since joining ride across Europe in 2022, has become co-director of The Big Hoof. 

Louis, who lives between Dumfries and Galloway and Ukraine, where he works for an NGO, said the weather was the most challenging part of his latest expedition.

‘In Scotland there is often a very real danger with bogs and sinkholes,’ he said.

‘Fortunately, we had Moy with us, a Highland pony, native to these parts. 

‘I would ask her to go ahead and she would lead the other horses away from danger. 

‘Back on my John O’Groats to Land’s End ride I fell in a sinkhole so I am always very wary.

‘The weather was challenging. After a blistering June, the rain fell frequently and hard. We had to be extra careful with overflowing fords and river crossings. 

‘The participants had to keep as dry as possible, but it all added to the fun and brought us closer as a group.

‘There is something very rewarding about travelling through different weather and experiencing the diversity of conditions, it allowed us to learn and grow as a team.’

Louis hopes to show how horses can bring people together and still be great companions.

‘Very few people knew each other beforehand – everyone coming along and doing something brave for themselves, outside of their comfort zone,’ he said. 

‘Most poignantly for me, six members of Venture Trust, the outdoor mental health charity that we were raising money for, came on the ride with us. 

‘I have been determined to make this tangible link between the causes the Big Hoof raises money for, and the people themselves.

‘We had such an incredible day. 

‘Folk from all walks of life and backgrounds were sharing in the power of the horse. It was like a far away dream come true. 

‘It captured the power of what the Big Hoof can do, bringing people together from all walks of life, along ancient trails ridden on by travellers for centuries, rooting strangers together, with the horse at the centre of it all.’

The Big Hoof has now raised more than £80,000 for mental health, wellbeing and child and refugee welfare causes, travelling 4,800km across five different countries.

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Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.