Wednesday, July 01, 2009

So what happens to the Mongolian horses after the event?

July 1 2009 - Karen Chaton

I wrote and asked the Aventurists that question a couple of days ago, and still have not gotten a response. However, I did get a couple of answers from Long Rider’s who have ridden in Mongolia.

I was wondering what might happen to the horses after they do their 25 mile (40 km) section of the Mongol Derby. Somehow, they need to get back home! Obviously the (possibly up to 26 used on each leg) horses won’t be hauled back home in a trailer. The consensus is that most likely the animals will be turned loose to find their way back home. It sounds like these are pretty smart horses.

Yet, that effectively doubles the distance that they must go. Granted, without the rider on their return trip. I know the website states that this race is not a test of endurance for the horse. I would consider it a test of endurance for my own endurance horse to be ridden 25 miles one day and then be turned around and set loose to find their way home in the next few days. Hopefully these guys will let the horses stay a day or two and rest and rehydrate and eat well before sending them on their way.

I have a quote from Bonnie Harpp who has ridden in Mongolia: “No Mongolian is going to give up his best horse for such a race. Horses are a spiritual symbol to Mongolians. They will pull out a few old nags or, I believe, go out and pull some of the more acceptable looking horses off the steppe. There are no barns there or corals. It is entirely different. People here would never believe it.”

I did the math to figure out how many 25 mile legs each rider will have to do per day in order to finish the entire race within a week. Since this is an event challenging the endurance of the rider rather than the horse I would think that each rider would be riding at least 50, 75 or 100 miles per 24 hour period. You couldn’t finish in three weeks if you only rode 25 miles per day. If you rode 50 miles per day, which would take two Mongolian horses each going 25 miles every single day - and you didn’t take any days off you would be riding for 12 days.

Most very fit endurance riders I know would be knocked on their butt riding 24 different horses 25 miles each for 12 days straight. I think they would find it very difficult riding their own same horses that distance in that same time period. Especially given the more extreme and rough conditions that these participants are sure to encounter. Endurance riders in the US are pretty spoiled and used to lots of creature comforts. These guys aren’t going to finish every night to a nice meal (after having lunch possibly provided, or at least easily made themselves) with a shower and a nice already made bed waiting for them. They are going to have a rough time.


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