If you really want to see what Mongolia is about, hop on a horse!
Guest Post by: Aagie Batjargal
Hi! My name is Aagie, I’m a tour guide for Meanwhile in Mongolia. I will be giving you insights and perspectives of a local on exploring our beautiful country, as well as joining you on the tours we host!
If you really want an immersive experience when visiting Mongolia, hopping on a horse is the way to go.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an afternoon adventure or a few days completely off-grid, riding a Mongolian horse opens the door to unforgettable experiences. It’s the perfect way to find a genuine connection to the landscape and get a unique insight into nomadic culture.
Here’s everything you should know before riding a horse in Mongolia or booking a horse riding trip.
Mongolian horses, locally known as “taki,” are known for their resilience and endurance, playing a crucial role in the practicalities of nomadic living. Acting as a reliable mode of transportation and an efficient herder of Mongolia’s big five (goat, sheep, horse, camel, cow), the Mongolian horse has been a companion to nomadic communities for centuries.
Standing at an average height of 12 to 14 hands, this breed might seem smaller than Western breeds, but their sturdy build suits the challenging terrains they navigate with exceptional endurance. You can especially witness this during the Naadam festival, when local herders race their horses against one another for both prize money and pride. Training and raising strong race horses is a very big deal here.
Having been born and raised in Ulaanbaatar city myself, and with no relatives still living and practicing the traditional nomadic lifestyle, I started my journey of connecting with my nomadic roots not so long ago. Learning to ride these free-spirited Mongolian horses has been a “wild” ride. Here I’m going to share the things I’ve learned from the local nomadic herders I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with, men and women who have formed lifelong bonds with their horses starting at the age of three or four.
Our horses are intentionally kept in a semi-wild state, allowing them to maintain a spirit of independence and resilience to survive in harsh environments.
There are no fences in Mongolia and horses are allowed to run free for most of their lives.
Herders will go out in search of their herds daily, checking on them and taking them to water and making sure each of their horses are okay. In Mongolia, horses are godly and being a horse herder is one of the most respectable things you can do.
The horses live off the land and Mongolians, for the most part, do not eat horse meat as part of their regular diet. Instead, it’s more desirable to have a larger herd. The more animals you have, the more successful you’re seen as.
Since horses are a nomadic herder’s most prized animal, it’s important that you show respect when horse riding in Mongolia.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before mounting a Mongolian horse:
With all that said, rest assured that upon your arrival, local horse guides will warmly greet you, ensuring your safety throughout. These experienced guides will carefully match you with the most suitable horses based on your level of skill and personality. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how stupid you think they might be, and don’t assume you know everything about riding here, even if you’re an experienced equestrian.
As you finally start bonding with your horse and grow a little more comfortable on it (and stop sweating from the fear, like I did when I started), take a moment to look up and appreciate what’s in front of you. Truth be told, I was so nervous I don’t remember much from my first horse trek!
The beauty of the landscapes, endless skies, and encounters with nomadic families along the way, who warmly welcome you with food and milk tea, basically everything they have, will undoubtedly give you a sense of peace, appreciation, and presence.
Having led several horse riding tours in Mongolia, below are some of the essentials I can’t live without. Take it from me, for a comfortable horse riding experience, it’s important to pack these essentials:
For a complete packing list, you can browse this Amazon shopping list.
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