Updated: Feb 2
Horse riding is definitely one of the must do things in Mongolia, the land of the blue sky. The feeling of galloping on horse in the endless Mongolian steppe can not be compared to something else. If you are planning to to do horse-riding trips in Mongolia, here are the things you should be aware of before getting on the saddle.
First of all, let us get familiar with the Mongolian horses. Despite their size, the Mongolian horses are smart and strong. Many people think Mongolian horses are ponies, but they are not. Yes, they are small compared to western horses, but they have much greater abilities. The Mongol empire conquered half of the dry land in the world on horseback. Durability and toughness have been inherited to these horses from their ancestors. Mongolian horses are claimed as half wild. The reason is because they wander free in the nature when they are not ridden. These horses live in groups with a stallion leading and protecting them. They travel freely in search for better pasture and water. The owners replace their horses after riding them a week or two. You might be wondering how people find the horses again. Well, these horses travel in such natural boundaries that they do not go too far to other regions. They have their own favorite land. Plus,the owners know where they likely to be in different weather conditions. The weather in Mongolia is harsh in all four seasons. Thus, the horses face all types of weather changes such as blizzard, hale storm, flood, earthquake, thunder storm. In terms of temperature, they survive in range of +30 Celsius in summer to -40 Celsius in winter. The environment makes the horses not only patient and strong but also smart. Horses have better idea of where to cross the river, how to get over a steep hill, or react to certain conditions. The stamina and the strength are the two most important characteristics that make the Mongolian horses stand out from other horses. They basically live how they were meant to be living in the earth. Mongolians use horses for transportation, food, and drink. They believe horses are the most spiritual and loyal livestock to them. Riding horse is not as hard as you think it would be. Confidence is the first thing you should have. Remember horses are alive beings so you should observe and lead them. They are very sensitive to sudden movements and often react speeding up their pace.
Here are some important tips on riding horses:
1. Make sure your saddle is fixed tight. Ask your horse guide to tighten it, if it is loose.
2. Insert your feet slightly into the stirrups. This way your feet will not get stuck in the stirrups.
3. Always mount the horse from the left side. Approach the horse slowly.
4. Do not get close to the back legs of the horses. They kick with their back legs as defense.
5. Make sure you do not carry any flapping items like scarfs or jackets unzipped ( these should all be tightly wrapped or tightened)
6. Hold your reins all the time. If you think you were driving, you would always need to hold onto the stirring wheel. Same goes with the reins of your horse.
7. Do not hold your camera or go-pro to the side of the horses. Horses have their eyes around their cheeks so they are able to see things behind or on top of them. They are easily scared by unknown items coming closer to them.
8. As the horses speed up trotting or cantering, try standing on the stirrups, you will feel more comfortable.
9. Say "Chou" to go faster.
10. it is always a better idea to wait the horse guide to help you get on and off the horse. Most people get careless during these actions and fall while still on the horse.
11. Avoid speeding up in bumpy road, downhills, rocky areas or areas with lots of mouse holes. The risk of your horse tripping is higher in this situations.
12. Avoid garbage or other items flying in wind through your way.
13. Pull back to slow down or stop the horses
At the end of the day, this article should not scare you from riding horses in Mongolia. The horses used for tours are usually very well trained. You will be creating a good bond with your horse during your horse-riding trip in Mongolia. It will be one of the most fruitful memories of your life.
P.S : Magnificent Mongolia offers the following horse riding tours: