Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whelan set to retrace Genghis Khan’s 1,000 kilometer mail route through Mongolian steppes

photo: Amy Whelan with Max, one of her Arabian Horses. Mike James.

A ride to remember
Mike James The Independent April 16 2014

LOUISA — Riding 50 miles a day is no big deal to Amy Whelan.

She often saddles up for a quick 15 miles around her Lawrence County farm before breakfast. Her home-based boarding and training business feeds her passion for endurance riding, which pits her against other equestrians in daylong horseback treks.

Whelan has been riding so long and for so many miles it may seem she has spent most of her life in the saddle. And it all has led up to what she anticipates will be her ultimate adventure this August, a 1,000-kilometer ride across the Mongolian steppes retracing the 13th-century postal route established by Genghis Khan.

“It’s one of the last truly wild places on Earth,” Whelan said.

She will be riding Mongolian horses, a tough, stocky breed indigenous to the region, sleeping and eating with locals or on the ground, and competing against more than 40 other riders.

Whelan, 51, was introduced to endurance riding in her college years at Colorado State University, where she studied equine science.

Endurance riders race for 50 or more miles under conditions that tax the rider, but under tight veterinary supervision to ensure the health of the horses. Riders have to finish a 50-mile race within 12 hours and a 100-mile race within 24 hours. The races usually are on trail systems rather than on tracks.

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