Preparing for a horse riding expedition in Mongolia

Preparing for a horse riding expedition in Mongolia

A lot of people ask us how they should prepare for longer horse riding trips in Mongolia.  While there isn’t really one standard answer, here are a number of suggestions that could make a difference in whether you enjoy your time here on horseback or not.

Probably the first thing one should have is a good keen sense for travel and adventure. This is pretty easy actually since most visitors to Mongolia are enthusiastic about coming here and experiencing the culture anyhow. Doing so by horseback is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

Reading and Research

Read all of our website pages. They’re packed with information, then….

To gain more insight to Mongolia, it would be wise to head to your local library or bookstore and see what books or other information is available to give you a more in depth understanding of the culture and the country. Researching on the internet is fine and a good source of information, but there are also some insightful books that go deeper into the culture and history of Mongolia.  Those listed below are just a few that come to mind and sit here next to me on my table. They’re all enjoyable reading.

“The Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions”, Charles Gallenkamp, 2001

“Beasts, Men and Gods: A tale of travel and adventure in Mongolia during the years 1920-21”, Ferdinand Ossendowski, first published in 1922 and republished in 2010.

“History of Mongolia”, B.Baabar, 1999

“Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”, Jack Weatherford, 2003

And of course there is the “Secret History of the Mongols”, author unknown. This is full of interesting historical information that is still useful today. But don’t tell anyone about this book…it’s secret.

Fitness

As with anything you do that requires physical endeavor, it’s really a good idea to keep fit and exercised. A daily walk of a couple of miles or kilometers is a great way to just stay fit for traveling.  Some light upper body exercise with weights or even pushups can’t hurt either. When horse riding for days at a time, you’ll be lifting saddles and saddle bags on and off the horses several times a day and packing personal gear. Upper body strength will make light of this activity. Stretching and keeping limber is also a good way to keep muscles working and toned. Any other exercise over and above this is just a bonus for your health.

If it’s not already, make exercise like that above a part of daily routine starting several months ahead of your travels.

Horse Riding Practice

If you don’t have access to horses then this is a bit difficult, but don’t worry if you don’t. If you have a good keen sense of adventure for wilderness travel, you’ll take to horse riding easily and we’ll show you how.  But, if you do have access to horses, ride as often as you can, even if it’s just in a small enclosure. Out in the countryside is even better. Getting to know the feel of horses will be invaluable on our horse riding expeditions. Horses aren’t bicycles you just get on and off. They too want to know who you are before they let you on their backs. If they allow it, touch them, rub their backs, necks, rumps, legs and bellies. Let them know you’re there and you’re paying attention to them. Talk to them. Each one of them will have a personal trait and behavior. They’re all individuals with a great sense of curiosity. Understanding this and getting to know the horse and letting them know you will be a unique experience. This is what we want you to do with the horses we have when riding with us.

For anyone with prior horse riding experience and knowledge this is pretty much commonsense stuff and a lot of fun. Right?

Proper Clothing

For any travel and for any particular activity you’ll want to make sure you have the proper clothing and gear. Check out our down loadable suggestions (pdf) for gear and clothing for our horse riding expeditions found on the “important information” page under “Book” of our website. There are several websites listed in this that point you to items we found can make riding in the backcountry of Mongolia more enjoyable. You’ll probably already have a number of these bits of clothing and gear in your possession from previous travels. Take a look and see what you may need to add.

Travel Arrangement to Mongolia

As soon as you decide you want to visit Mongolia, make your travel and visa arrangements right away. We’ve found that the later one puts off travel tickets, the more difficult it is to get a booking and seat on an airplane or train. Mongolia has a short “high season” when it’s the best time to be here for horse riding, and there are limited spaces on planes and trains. The earlier you book the more you’ll ensure you get a confirmed seat. Again, check out the “book a trip” and “important information” pages on our website to help with this.

And remember “Good preparation is just part of the journey.”

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams Jr.