The Long Ride
"It is right for a youth to sleep among the stars with only a horse for company."The Beirhamin are a nomadic people of hunters and shepherds, wholly reliant on their horses. Thus, it is considered vital to teach the youth of a tribe how to ride horses and how to care for horses. The Long Ride is the culmination of a young Beirhamin's equestrian education. In it, a youth of 14 or 15 is given a horse in the morning, instructed to ride all day until the sun begins to set, camp out on the steppe, and on the next day ride back to the tribe. Thus, the Long Ride is a statement of independence and proof that the youth can handle themselves on the steppe, and can be relied upon in future excursions.
This ritual is restricted to those Beirhamin that still live on the steppe. Those that have moved to Runberi cities have been lost to this tradition, as they often do not own horses and do not live in the steppe where this rite is practical.
The Long Ride has no set date in the year, but is performed by 14 or 15 year old youths when they are judged ready and when the weather is reasonably favorable. The riders will usually wait out storms, and prefer riding out in the mild months of the year. However, there are no strict requirements as to when the Long Ride should be performed, except before the youth turns 16. The youth about the embark on a Long Ride is given some supplies and a horse, enough to last them for the day and a half they will be gone from the tribe. Youths typically embark alone, but sometimes in groups of up to three. Successfully completing a Long Ride is a marker of adulthood, and the tribe celebrates their returning riders with feasting and gifts. While the Long Ride entails sending youths out onto the open steppe on their own, it is very rare for riders to not return successfully. Even at 14 years old, steppe Beirhamin are already adept riders, know how to set up camp, know how to navigate in the open steppe, and can often hunt on horseback as well. In many ways, the rite is less about proving one's abilities to the clan than it is about improving the confidence of the rider.