Our Team Guides Eco-Tourist Horseback Riding Adventures in Mongolia

Travel Mongolia on horseback with experienced guides of Stone Horse Expeditions – offering more than 30 years experience in wilderness guiding, conservation and eco-tourism. The Stone Horse Team is made up of Mongolian and international personnel who have worked in tourism and wilderness travel of all types for many years. As adventure tour operators, we take special pride in the quality of our horse riding tours into some of the most pristine and naturally beautiful areas of Mongolia’s parks, and in making your holiday an unforgettable horse trek adventure.

Keith Swenson and Sabine Schmidt are the owners/operators of Stone Horse Expeditions.

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Keith

Keith  has many years of experience with wilderness expeditions, managing protected areas and advising on tourism operations in national parks. With Stone Horse, he focuses on high-quality, low impact horse riding adventures – a passion he has held since growing up and working with horses on his father’s farm. Early in his career, Keith worked as a wilderness ranger and whitewater kayak and raft guide in Idaho, USA. At the same time, he enjoyed ice and alpine climbing in Canada, New Zealand, Nepal and the Antarctic. In Antarctica, he spent many years as a survival instructor and safety coordinator while guiding expeditions and research groups. He also worked as a team leader and station manager for an international effort to protect the Antarctic continent and ocean. While living in New Zealand, and becoming a permanent resident, he helped found the New Zealand Nature Institute and concentrated on forest protection with the Waitutu Forest project near Fiordlands National Park. From New Zealand, Keith took up one of his most challenging positions: field manager for a large wildlife sanctuary in the Sultanate of Oman. He oversaw the Bedu ranger staff, developing tourism operations and running anti-poaching units. Keith has also worked with protected area and tourism programs in South Asia (Sri Lanka and Laos). Arriving in Mongolia to assist with the development of ranger training and the national park system, Keith easily took advantage of the horse culture in exploring the country and then inviting guests to join in his horseback adventures. Stone Horse Expeditions & Travel was born out of this fascination for the wild and admiration for the tough Mongolian horse. Sharing his passion for wilderness travel and horses with guests has become the essence of Stone Horse Expeditions & Travel as the provider of the finest horseback expeditions in Mongolia.

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Sabine

Sabine has spent much of the last 18 years in Mongolia working on conservation projects and has had a leading role in developing our horse tours in the Khentii. She also knows the Gobi area and its many herder communities well. Sabine sources much of our expedition equipment and supplies, oversees meal planning and cooking and is in charge of saddles and tack. Sabine trained with the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) as a “Wilderness First Responder”. She is also a trained saddle maker and in recent years has spent off-seasons in Oregon, USA, to build “Stone Horse”- Saddles, lightweight trail saddles. With an adventurous spirit, a commitment to conservation and a background in sciences, Sabine started her career in Antarctica, exploring the icy wilderness from a year-round base with a small overwintering team, documenting the threats to the last untouched place on earth. She later guided for Antarctic ecotourism expeditions – ensuring visitor safety and ecological conduct. Inspired by the stark beauty of pristine wilderness, Sabine began to write and photograph for conservation awareness, continuing in New Zealand where she co-founded the “New Zealand Nature Institute”. The “Secret History of Mongolia” had been among her reading at the polar station, and years later, she encountered the images this evoked – working with herder communities in Mongolia’s Gobi desert in the country’s largest National Park to preserve landscapes, wildlife, and grazing resources. When not in the desert, she spent her time riding with Keith, exploring the wilderness areas that are now Stone Horse destinations. Sabine has been a key player in the “Initiative for People Centered Conservation” in Mongolia, and forged links to worldwide efforts highlighting nomadic peoples and their traditions in managing the great grasslands on earth. She continues to consult for programs in East and Central Asia, focusing on community based conservation. Sabine’s favorite time is on the trail, riding “Good Boy,” while taking care of guests and sharing past and present experiences of the wild.

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Byambaa

Byambaa comes from a traditional herder family in Mongolia’s Northwest and grew up on horseback. His ease with horses and youthful energy are a great contribution to the smooth operation of our expeditions. Throughout the year, he helps with keeping the horses healthy, happy and saddle ready. On the trail, Byambaa assists in handling, packing and saddling horses, making sure the herd has water and grazing and is safe at night. On expedition days when the riders take time for some horseback exploration off the track, Byambaa is in charge of the packhorses and establishing advance camp with Bayaraa.

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Gana

Gana is our office manager and will be one of the first people our guests correspond with and meet upon arrival in Mongolia. She will keep our guests up to date with bookings, accommodation plans and help arrange the many things we do in preparation for our horseback riding trips.
Gana grew up in Uvs province in Western Mongolia. She joined the Stone Horse team in August 2014. Gana likes to travel and has overseas work experience in the US, Korea and Malaysia where she was involved in international youth ethics programs to involve young people from Mongolia in worldwide leadership learning exchanges. Gana holds a Master’s Degree in Linguistics from the University of Humanities of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. While Gana does an excellent job keeping the Stone Horse office running, she is comfortable on horse back and likes to join a horse riding tour when she has opportunity.

Stone Horse Riding in Mongolia Staff Member Dolzoo

Dolzoo

Dolzoo grew up in the Gobi, in the Southern part of Mongolia and brings the typical resourcefulness of the people from the Gobi to the team. A mother and professional, Dolzoo is busy and takes turns with Nyamaa to ride with Stone Horse Expeditions. Her studies and time in the US and previous jobs with international teams, and her creative cooking skills are a great asset. Having grown up in the countryside, Dolzoo is happy on horseback and enjoys the riding adventures and meeting guests from all over the world.

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Byuanaa

Byuanaa comes from Khovd province in Mongolia’s west where he grew up in a herder family. Now a student of economics in Ulaanbaatar, he enjoys his summer job as a horse wrangler with Stone Horse Riding and working with his friend Byambaa. Two years Byambaa’s junior, Buyanaa is getting bigger still and to Byambaa’s dismay starts to win more and more of the wrestling matches that the two stage regulary, amongst other competitions that guys their age come up with to get rid of surplus energy – after a full day of riding and packing.

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Bayaraa

Bayaraa is the third member of the Stone Horse wrangler team; he is from the same district (Soum) as Byambaa in the Western Province of Uvs. Still a student at the Shonkor College, a wrestling school, Bayaraa already holds the wrestling title of “Lion” in his Soum. Seeing him handle horse packs, it’s obvious that he has some muscle… With that, and with his knowledge of Mongolian laws on nature conservation that he acquired studying at a local college, he is a great asset for Stone Horse Expeditions. Needless to say, he handles and rides horses with the ease of someone growing up on horseback and in a herding community and still involved in traditional herding back home.

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Davaa

Davaa is the driver for Stone Horse Expeditions in Ulaanbaatar. You will meet him at the airport where you recognize him among the crowd of waiting drivers holding your name sign. Davaa will take you to your hotel, and to the Darkhid Valley on the morning when your riding tour starts. Davaa is popular with our guests for his guiding on the city tour or to other nearby day trip destinations like Hustai Nuruu National Park, the Chinggis Statue “Tsonjin Boldog” or to the Manzushir Monastery ruins South of Bogd Khan Mountain. Davaa speaks German and English. Having grown up in the city of Erdenet, Davaa now lives in Ulaanbaatar with his wife and young son. 

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Yadmaa

Yadmaa is the herder of the Stone Horse herd; he and his wife Davasuren are the hosts of the herder home stay or “Ger Stay” that is popular with Stone Horse guests on a short visit to Mongolia. Yadmaa comes from Western Mongolia’s Uvs Province from a family of recognized herders and horsemen. He has been herding his own herd of cattle, goat, sheep and horses in the Darkhid Valley for nearly 30 years. He is a skilled craftsman in traditional Mongolian leather working, maintaining the skills of horsemanship when fashioning lariats and hobbles from rawhide. Yadmaa is a keen observer and knows the valleys, forests and wildlife of the area very well from decades of daily horseback patrols around the area.

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Davasuren

Davasuren is an experienced herder and specialized in dairy cows and processing; she is    known for cooking great meals for Ger Stay Guests- good traditional Mongolian home cooking, but with  modifications including vegetarian if requested by guests. Davasuren comes from Ovorkhangai Province but has been in the Darkhi Valley for over 20 years. While Davasuren is already more than busy with milking cows, looking after livestock and guests, she is also the community leader of the Darkhid Community of local households. Stone Horse Expeditions & Travel, with the New Zealand Nature Institute, the Darkhid Community and local government is actively involved in ecological restoration, land rehabilitation, and environmental education to protect local natural resources and help with maintaining the watershed.

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Duya

Duya is who you want traveling with you for an authentic and fun Gobi experience. A native of the South Gobi, Duya’s experience ranges from veterinary technician, camel herder, vegetable grower, community organizer, and mother-of-five. Duya operates a small guest house from her home, and she leads our Gobi tours when tailor made and genuine is requested. Traveling with her, you can’t fail to notice that Duya is known, liked and respected by everybody along the way. She knows everybody from her various local careers. You are in safe hands with Duya on your Gobi adventure, meeting the community and visiting places off the beaten track.

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Otgonbaatar

Otgonbaatar is the head driver for our Gobi tours. Having grown up in the South Gobi, he knows the tracks and the lay of the land. He has been driving for many years, and learnt his skills driving a Russian microbus first, but has long switched  to his own Land Cruiser. Being local and having worked for many years with a Gobi conservation program, Otgonbaatar has great knowledge of and concern for the environment and communities, and he is well known among the locals. He knows all-season travel in the Gobi, and if he can’t drive himself for a tour, he will provide a reliable driver and car from among his fellow Gobi drivers that he recommends for Stone Horse Gobi tours.