Saturday, August 06, 2016

How I Survived the Mongol Derby: The World’s Longest, Toughest Horse Race - Full Article

by Liz Brown
august 2 2016

Riding 28 semi-wild horses through 620 miles of Mongolian wilderness is no pony trek

The young teen with a feathered mustache shuffled over to me, his eyes slightly down cast as he tried to shove the lead rope in my hands. Reflexively, I sighed and waved him off. I’d already ridden more than 60 miles today and it was only 3 p.m. My grasp on reality—and good manners—had vanished many kilometers before, left somewhere out on the wide open steppe.

Mongolia. August, 2015. The sun was an angry burning orb in an endless blue sky, no clouds in sight to offer even a wisp of respite from the heat. Sweat ran in small rivers down my back and chest, drenching my long sleeved shirt intended to protect my skin from the vicious UV rays. The only thought I had was seeking shade in the nearby ger, where I could sip water and try to settle the dizziness and nausea that had been plaguing me since the early morning.
As I made a move toward the tent for a second time, the kid tugged at my sleeve and I felt his calloused hand close on top of mine. He said something to me, insistently in Mongolian, and jerked his head toward the horse at the end of the rope. I eyed his animal, a 13hh stocky flea bitten grey with a forelock that hid his eyes. The gelding didn’t look like much, especially after I’d just made good time on a lovely lithe chestnut athlete that was a mini version of the Thoroughbreds back home, but the boy looked excited at the prospect of me riding his pony and all I wanted was five minutes of peace. I raised a shaky hand and pointed to my saddle that had been tossed in some goat turds and gave the boy the thumbs up. He grinned and got to tacking the horse that would carry me over the next 25 miles of inhospitable Mongolian wilderness...

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