*HOMEHOLIDAY SEARCHTIPS & ADVICEREVIEWSDESTINATIONSBREEDSCHARITY RIDESABOUT & CONTACT
*
Take me home
*
BREEDS
*
Andalusian
*
Camargue
*
Icelandic
*
Marwari
*
*
*
Peruvian Paso
*
Turkmen Akhal-teke
 

Mongolian masters of the Steppe


The following text and pictures are reproduced with kind permission of Zavkhan Trekking Mongolia

Ever since carrying Genghis Khan’s army to the gates of Europe, horses have played a major role in Mongolia’s history. They are still vital to nomadic life on the steppe today. The importance of the horse in Mongolian culture is reflected in their pride of place in the country’s songs, poems, painting and sculpture.
The Mongolian horse is small, but should never be called a ‘pony’ or you risk insulting the local people. They are incredibly tough and full of character, and need little care. Shoeing is rare, and grooming is limited to a quick once-over with a ‘sweat scraper’ after a hard ride. In the countryside they are used on a daily basis to herd livestock, and for traveling. Mares are milked to provide airag, a favourite drink for Mongolian’s, but definitely an acquired taste.

The Mongolian under saddle
The Mongolian horse under saddle.
Mongolian horses are not ‘broken’ to the same extent as horses in the West, so it is important to treat them with respect. They are very well trained and responsive once you get to know their idiosyncrasies ­ for example you should never approach them from their right hand side. They will barely flinch when a nomad’s dog tries to see them off, but rustle a map and it's a different story.
Horses graze freely in herds all year, only being brought in and tethered when they are required for riding. Herds belonging to different families will mix out on the steppe, but everyone knows their own horses when it comes to separating them. During winter the horses are able to dig through snow, allowing them to survive even as the temperature falls to -40C. Wolves have a particular liking for horses, making them a danger to young foals. Natural selection in this harsh environment ensures the breed remains strong and perfectly adapted to life on the steppe.
Hardy, living on the step in -40 degree conditions in the winter. The Mongolian horse is full of character.
Living on the Steppe in temperatures as low as -40 degree centigrate, the hardiness of the Mongolian is unquestionable.
The traditional wooden Mongolian saddle is beautiful but notoriously uncomfortable, with large silver studs carefully positioned for maximum discomfort. These saddles supposedly hark back to the days when Genghis Khan wanted to prevent his soldiers falling asleep in the saddle, and are still used by most people today. There are also more comfortable ‘Russian saddles’ available, which most visitors use.
Mongolians love horse racing and the greatest races are held during the annual Naadam festival. Winning horses and their owners are highly honoured. The horses are ridden over an exhausting course by children as young as five. When riding in the countryside it is not unusual to find yourself in an impromptu race with a young Mongolian wishing to show off the speed of his horse. After a few days riding Mongolian horses most people have learnt to admire their strength and character. It often seems that given their head, they would gallop across the steppe forever. A great way to experience Mongolia!

 
*
Home SearchAdvice ReviewsDestinationsBreedsCharity RidesLinksSitemapFacebookAbout & Contact