Horses of Mongolia

July 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

Horse of the SteppeHorse of the SteppeA horse stands on the steppe at a nomad's camp near Mandalgovi, Mongolia.

 

It is hard to mention the word "Mongolia" without thinking of horses. Horses, and the expert riders that rode them, were the key to Ghengis Khan's Mongol Empire which by the late-13th Century spread from Korea to Eastern Europe - the largest empire in the history of the world.

I had the good fortune to spend a few weeks of vacation in Mongolia and had a chance to see how horses are still an integral part of the Mongolian culture. Children as young as four or five years old are racing competitively over long distances and airag, fermented mare's milk, is a popular drink in Mongolia.

Below are some photos showing some of the horses I encountered in Mongolia. Most were taken during the celebration of Naadam, the annual festival of the "three manly games" (wrestling, horse racing, and archery) held each summer in Mongolia.  We went as part of a tour organized by Ger To Ger (Ger is the Mongolian word for yurt - the traditional round Mongolian house).  I have to say that it was one of the most interesting and memorable trips I have been fortunate to take.  We spent about a week traveling from one family to another along the edge of the Gobi desert.  We went by camel, on horseback, and riding through a torrential rainstorm on the back of a horse-drawn wagon.  We had only our Lonely Planet Mongolian phrasebook and a few pages of vocabulary provided by Ger To Ger, but still found a way to communicate with our hosts.

The Mongolian people were universally friendly and helpful. One night as we struggled to put up our tent in the face of high winds before a storm our hosts motioned us to sleep in their ger for the night.  The four of us and five of them spent the night in their 12 foot diameter ger.  It was not really comfortable, but was a night that I will remember for a long time.

If you get the chance to visit Mongolia, please take it! It is a beautiful and interesting place that is unique in the world.

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Nadaam BilliardsNadaam BilliardsSome of the pool tables set up outdoors at horse racing venue for the annual Nadaam festival in Ulaanbaataar, Mongolia. Nadaam is the annual Mongolian festival of the "Three Manly Arts" - horse racing, archery, and wrestling - that is celebrated in towns large and small across the country.

People riding their horses up to the outdoor pool hall set up as part of the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar

 

Teenage RiderTeenage RiderA teenager talks on his cell phone while riding his horse through the horse racing venue at the Nadaam festival in Ulaanbaataar, Mongolia. Nadaam is the annual Mongolian festival of the "Three Manly Arts" - horse racing, archery, and wrestling - that is celebrated in towns large and small across the country.

A teenager riding his horse and chatting on his cell phone at the Naddam Festival in Ulaanbaatar

 

Hanging Out At NadaamHanging Out At NadaamA group of spectators socialize at the horse racing venue for the Nadaam festival in Ulaanbaataar, Mongolia. Nadaam is the annual Mongolian festival of the "Three Manly Arts" - horse racing, archery, and wrestling - that is celebrated in towns large and small across the country.

People stopping for a horseback chat at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar

 

Young Nadaam WinnerYoung Nadaam WinnerOne of the young winners of a Nadaam horse race in Mandalgovi, Mongolia. Nadaam is the annual Mongolian festival of the "Three Manly Arts" - horse racing, archery, and wrestling - that is celebrated in towns large and small across the country.

The young winner of a horse race run as part of the Naadam Festival

 

Nadaam RiderNadaam RiderA young rider races across the finish line in a Nadaam horse race in Mandalgovi, Mongolia. Nadaam is the annual Mongolian festival of the "Three Manly Arts" - horse racing, archery, and wrestling - that is celebrated in towns large and small across the country.

A young rider races for the finish line in a Naadam horse race

 


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