Last year, I embarked on a journey to the land of horses. I was interested in Mongolia because it has an estimated 3 million people and 6 million horses. I liked that fact. I had also being watching the Mongolian derby on a horsey TV channel and felt inspired and full of lust for another adventure. I am no show or event rider. I’m not even a happy hacker really, I’d like to be but my horse refuses to hack out alone; it's something we are working on.
Before I knew it I was touching down in Mongolia. It was a land without fences. I often long to belong to a vast open land of prairies and mountains where I can saddle my horse up and ride into the sunset.
Looking down over the vast wide open spaces from my propeller plane heading into western Mongolia, I saw no fences, no boundaries. I felt the incredible sense of freedom here. After settling in for the night into a large Ger shared with my fellow riders, none of whom I knew before heading here, I felt a twang of excitement for what was to follow. I would be starting the trek tomorrow and riding semi-wild Mongolian horses 35 kilometers a day across western Mongolia.
Upon meeting the horsemen, it became apparent that we were a world away from the Mongolians. Proud nomadic people, they dressed to keep warm and to ride; they had no need for fashion or vanity. They survived by subsistence farming and their animals moved with them. They moved with nature according to the seasons and brought their herds of animals with them often deciding to move without any planning. They used the huge desert camels to transport their homes across the steppe to a warmer or more fertile land.
It soon became apparent that we were no longer tourists to our guides; we were horsemen all on this adventure together. Their horses lived natural lives, only herded in when they were needed to ride but mainly living free in the vast wilderness. The stallions, so proud and protective, would fight off the herdsman's horse whilst he was riding.
I had the privilege of herding a huge herd of the main herdsman's horses, galloping down a hillside, dust building clouds under my horse's hooves, chasing the large herd of multi-colored semi-wild horses. I no longer worried about tripping down one of the many marmot holes along the way.
It was exhilarating, magical, and thrilling. I was riding semi-wild Mongolian horses in the land of the horses. A breathtaking country full of free nomadic people that lived by the horse, the animal which to me and many others represents freedom in a country without fences. It was the ultimate sense of freedom and I sensed that little Mongolian horse would have carried on galloping into the sunset, accepting me as I was. In that moment, everything became possible.