Riding a horse in Mongolia has been a secret ambition of mine for a few years now. Well, to be more precise, riding a horse across Mongolia actually, an aspiration that I knew I would never realize on this short trip, but one that has since become a permanent fixture at the top of my things-to-do-before-I-die list.
Riding a horse across Mongolia. Just the phrase itself is enough to elicit magical feelings of wild adventure and freedom. Of galloping through epic panoramas, the wind blowing away any memories of the futile concerns born of a life back home lived with unnecessary complications. You may scoff at my romanticism, but Karina who runs the company that organizes our logistics here in Mongolia has fixed it for quite a few people to realize their Mongol horse riding fantasy over the years, and by all accounts this particular dream is very much real.
Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying that “…There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. Never have those words rung so true to me as during these last few days in the saddle. I have now earmarked a 3 month window in 2011 after Human Planet has finished as the time to make my own equine pilgrimage back to Mongolia in order that I can give this amazing place the time and attention it rightly deserves.
And at the end of it all, if I’m just half as happy as the locals here appear to be, then it will have done its job royally. Rural Mongolia certainly contains some of the friendliest, most cheerful people I’ve ever met on my travels around the planet, and I’m sure that their easy and regular access to horse riding has had something to do with that. Of course, I suspect that the thousands of square kilometres of uninterrupted landscape may also play a fair part in eliciting the huge smiles we encounter here every day.
Or maybe there’s just something special in the local fermented horse’s milk.
. . .
Interested in more stories from Mongolia? Try HERE