Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mongolia: Specialist endurance training for Mongolian vets announced

27th Jan 2010

An innovative veterinary training programme has been launched by the organisers of the Mongol Derby. More than 20 local vets will be trained to become part of the international team of equine experts that will ensure the welfare of the 1000 semi-wild horses taking part in the race across the Mongolian steppe in August.

vetinspectionmongolderby1Led by four star accredited FEI vet Jenny Weston, the specialist training will also leave a legacy that will benefit other events and races in a country renowned for its love of horses.

"The training will cover exercise physiology and the types of conditions that you see in horses involved in endurance riding and the long-distance horse racing that is a part of Mongolian culture," explained Jenny. "This will benefit not only the horses involved in the Mongol Derby but also the many thousands involved in the annual Nadaam festival.

"There were very few veterinary issues with the horses involved in the Mongol Derby in 2009 and I am confident that will also be the case in 2010 but it is important to be prepared when you are working with a combination of semi-wild horses, remote and difficult terrrain, and warm summer weather."

The training is part of a comprehensive horse welfare program including pre-race training for the riders led by Maggie Pattinson, Chef d'Equipe of the British Home International Endurance Team since 2007.

"Taking my passion for fitness to a ride in Mongolia is beyond the imagination," said Maggie. "I can't wait to get my hands on the successful applicants. I want their enthuasiasm for adventure and winning matched only with their knowledge of what it takes to keep their Mongolian Mounts fresh and happy."

The race format is based on Chinngis Khaan's legendary postal system which could relay messages thousands of miles in a matter of days. Horse stations (Morin Urtuu in Mongolian) manned by nomadic families will be established at intervals of 40km or less along the course and riders will change horses and undergo veterinary inspections at each one.

The Mongol Derby is a joint venture led by British company The Adventurists with Mongolia based Tengri Group and backed by the Mongolian government's Ministry of Agriculture.

Applications are open now to adventurous riders from around the world. More information about the world's longest and toughest horse and how to apply can be found on the official website:

Fast Facts about the Mongol Derby

25 riders started the 2009 race, 23 finished and they raised GBP 71,000 for official charity Mercy Corps' projects in Mongolia.
Aged from 19 to 50, the 2009 riders came from 8 different countries including Argentina, Sweden and South Africa. 12 of the riders were female.
Two riders had to withdraw on the second day after serious falls with concussion and back injuries.
Less than 2% of the 700 horses that took part in 2009 required treatment which was all minor first aid.
The riders averaged 100 km per day at about 10 km/hr in 2009.
On cooler days last year some riders managed about 140 km in a day on the better days, at an average speed of 14 km/hr
Horses outnumber the population of Mongolia by 7 to 1!
Marco Polo wrote that in the 13th century 300,000 horses were posted at horse stations across the Great Khaan's empire

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