Guest’s Perspective of Horseback Riding Mongolia
A guest post by Emily Hendricks about horseback riding in Mongolia with Stone Horse Expeditions
From time to time we’ll post a guest blog from some of the folks who have ridden with Stone Horse Expeditions here in Mongolia. They bring a different perspective to our blog pages and let our readers know what it’s really like to travel by horseback through the cultural and wilderness landscapes that horse trekking in Mongolia brings. So, enjoy this blog post by Emily, who joined us on a Gorkhi-Terelj National Park expedition in the autumn of 2012.
Why Mongolia? – Emily Hendricks
When my boyfriend Matthew and I first started kicking around the idea of going to Mongolia, the universal response from family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances was, “Why Mongolia?”
It was difficult to describe why we wanted to go somewhere as seemingly remote and far-fetched as Mongolia, but it helps to know that Matthew and I live and work in the heart of New York City. We often go days and even weeks without seeing a blade of grass, spending the majority of our time in offices or with a work phone attached to us. So when we have the chance to escape, remote is appealing. And there aren’t many places left that are as remote as Mongolia.
But there was more to our decision. The biggest factor in our choice was Stone Horse Expeditions and Travel. Regular talks with Keith and his staff assured us of our safety, fantastic scenery and of course, a great experience with their horses. The entire process of planning the trip was as simple as booking the flight and signing on with Stone Horse. By the time we had packed, we were left wondering if there wasn’t more to do.
Our Mongolian horses
Once we arrived in Ulaanbaatar, the Stone Horse team was there waiting in the airport to pick us up and take us out to the horses. On the first day, they introduced us to our new friends, the two horses who would carry us through our expedition (named Brownie and Cerd, for their colors). We were surprised to find that the horses were smaller than we had expected, but even more surprised at how easily they could carry us up and down mountains, across rivers and through valleys. Nothing fazed these guys.
Horse trekking in Mongolia’s Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
Our trek was only five days total, which turned out to be not enough time in the end. We experienced every kind of weather from snow (a light dusting) to threatening clouds (but never a downpour) to a beating sun that caused the horses and us to sweat. Some days we had all of the above. There was also fantastic scenery and animals at every turn, always with mountains as the backdrop.
Our horses were characters that grew on us every day – Matthew’s Brownie was a bossy little guy that enjoyed herding the other horses, and we have reason to suspect that my Cerd faked an injury so he could frolic along without carrying anything or anyone. The Stone Horse team is always prepared though, and they had a spare horse for me to ride. Cerd turned out to be fine and my new gray and I got along well for the rest of the trip.
On top of the experiences with the countryside and the horses, we also brought back a rich knowledge of the Mongolian culture and customs from the Stone Horse staff, who are passionate about the country and preserving its traditions. They also gave us a new perspective of globalization on the environment for Mongolia and the rest of the world.
So why Mongolia?
Because every time the city wears us down, Matthew turns to me and says, “Want to move to Mongolia with Brownie?”
The answer is always yes. It’s our little mental escape from daily life, and sometimes that’s all you need.