Horse Riding in Mongolia: On How We Saved a Steed

Awkward or Amazing?

Awkward. And Scary.

It all happened during a home stay with a nomadic family in the Mongolian countryside.

It was a beautiful summer day with billowing white clouds in the bluest sky and the green vastness of the Mongolian Steppe beckoned to be explored on horseback.

Mongolian ger stay

I’m convinced that our horses were really on the bottom end of the bell curve when it came to laziness. The kids handed us some make-shift whips and the magic word “tsu” which was supposed to get the horses going. It might have worked better if we didn’t pronounce it as “Tjoo”. In retrospect, the horses probably figured they have to stand still on account of the sound of an oncoming train. Bless them.

Horse riding in Mongolia

Eventually, we were happily trotting around the Mongolian countryside. After a while we saw a nice shady spot beneath some trees that looked like a perfect spot for a break. We got off and looked for a patch with lots of grass that the horses could munch on while we enjoy the view and discuss our adventure horse riding in Mongolia. We tied each horse to a tree, marvelling at my brother’s skill at tying knots. Unfortunately, we were so focused on the quality of the grass that we did not take a moment to consider the incline.

IMG_1838 (2)This is where everything started to go downhill. Old Whitey circled her tree in what can best be described as a hell-bent attempt at lawn mowing. She managed to trip over her rein and fell.

I can not even begin to describe what it felt like when we saw her fall. My heart nearly stopped. Time seemed to slow down. We leaped up to rescue her. Her rein was wrapped around her neck, strangling her. As Will struggled with the knot (which turned out to be way too secure) I remember thinking

This is it. It’s the end of our horse riding in Mongolia. We’ll have to run. Our passports are in the ger. We are going to die in the Mongolian wilderness!

Will gave up on the knot and from the looks of it, Old Whitey was giving up on her will to live. We had to try to pick her up, she’ll never be able to get up by herself at this incline. Will and I have both dropped a fair number of motorcycles in our day so we sat with our backs against her rump and started picking her up with our legs by walking backwards. As soon as we got her off the ground, Mia untwisted her rein. And there she was, on her feet again and munching grass like nothing happened.

And that, my friends, is how we saved a horse in Mongolia.

Life List Entry: I saved a horse’s life

This story happened on our Trans-Mongolian railway journey. Read my first story about traveling in Mongolia here.


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