Suekhbaatar, Mongolia — I was wandering an hour or so outside the town of Baruun Urt, and I saw a nomad riding by. I waved to him and he trotted up. His name was Taava, friendly guy. Invited me to his yurt for dinner. The family had just slaughtered a goat.
After dinner I went with him to water his horses.
Mongolia is horse country, and Mongolians are good horsemen. Some foreigners who come to Mongolia also dream of adventures with horses. Alas, the foreigners are often not such good horsemen.
I met one traveler who had bought a pack horse and planned to spend a month trekking around Mongolia with his horse. He’d bought all his provisions and was just finishing packing everything on the animal — all his food, camping supplies, everything he needed for a month. He was nearly done packing and was tightening the straps, and then suddenly something fell off the load, and the horse got spooked and took off running. That guy ran after the horse but couldn’t catch it, of course. He never saw it again. Lost everything, all his food, all his luggage and, of course, the horse itself.
But it was a lucky day for some poor nomad somewhere out on the steppe!
Some Mongolians are upset about China’s announcement that it intends to have the traditional Mongolian saddle design listed as a Unesco cultural landmark of China. Since four million people of Mongolian descent live in China, this sort of thing will probably come up again.
The Mongolian saddle is small but made of rigid wood so that a rider can brace the saddle between their thighs and stand to fire a long bow accurately from horseback. This amazing saddle is decorated with silver and fossilized coral from the Gobi desert, which was ocean in the distant past.
Taken in Mongolia during a 22 mile trek. I’m in the back and that beautiful big guy in front of me is Frankie. He was adorable and so freaking fast (Mongolian racing ponies for you - though he was bigger than your average pony, just about the size of a horse). We had to gallop back the last 10 miles in the dark without a guide, and drunk with dehydration. All the Mongolians I met out on the Steppe kind of expect you to be able to deal with that shit, because they start riding around 3 years old and many of them partake in 40 mile races, so a 10 mile gallop in the dark (where our guide kind of went “Meh” and fucked off into the night XD) isn’t really a big deal for them haha. I love the Mongolian riding style, though I didn’t have the balls (or the thigh muscles) to try tying my stirrups…
Mongolian herders moving to Spring pastures in the Darhad Valley.
Photograph by Gordon Wiltsie.
MY FAVOURITE WILD HORSES!!!
These Przewalski’s appeared on my dash a bit ago - what a good birthday present <3
This is actually a Mongolian girl in the Mongolian army in the 1940s. She’s a tracker and I know this because it’s come up in my World Geography class.
Which I will probably be withdrawing from because of poor grades.
A herd of takhi in Mongolia.
“Tahki” is the Mongolian word for “Spirit” and these horses are regarded as the only true wild horses. Any other “wild horse” in existence like Mustangs and the brumbies of Australia are descended from domestic horses gone feral.
These horses - and the people - were the inspiration for my first novel, “Tahki” (never completed)