So Yeah, the Mongol Derby Is Not Your Average Trail Ride

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Published on August 9, 2018

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ometimes, when my days get monotonous, I get the urge to ditch the real world and become one with nature a la Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild. Then I remember that I dislike walking uphill, have some special scent that seems to be extra appealing to mosquitoes, and that I’m far too much a creature of habit to withstand such a drastic shift in my daily routine.

But, there are still those special few who long for a life-changing experience in the wilderness. For those people - the particularly adventurous ones - I recommend the Mongol Derby, an annual horse race unlike any other.

Riders traverse 1000 kilometers of open land on the Mongolian Steppe, riding semi-wild horses and changing mounts every 40 kilometers. The course is not marked, so adult-amateurs like myself who get lost without jump numbers might have some trouble. There are no beds, no gourmet meals like those available in VIP tents at horse shows, and no guided tours. Just twenty-eight horse stations between the start and finish lines.

43 riders have embarked on the trek this year, with competitors ranging in age from 18 to 70. Participants come from all walks of life, though most have at least some background with horses, like the 24-year-old polo player from South Africa, or the 29-year-old Pony Clubber from Virginia.

The sun rises over one of the most famous horse monuments in all of Mongolia, which just so happens to watch over our #MongolDerby start camp. Today is launch day for the ‘World’s Longest & Toughest’ horse race. 44 Riders from over 13 countries will be retracing the famous footsteps of Chinggis Khaan’s pony express style postal route, this form of efficient communication, combined with the powerful Mongolian horses & the relentless spirit of the Mongolian people is what allowed him to conquer much of the world. • If you have friends following the race this year, tag them below 😉🙌🏻 ##horsesofinstagram #mongolderby2018 #horsephotography #optoutside #mymongolia #travelmongolia #lonelyplanetmongolia #horse #inspirationalquotes @theadventurehandbook

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Currently in first is third-time Derby participant, Devan Horn, of Texas. Will she be victorious? With the help of Genghis Khan’s ghost, anything is possible.

Feature photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby

Written by Kate Kosnoff

Kate Kosnoff is an equestrian journalist, blogger and photographer. When she isn’t working, Kate can usually be found sipping green tea, scrolling through Twitter, or petting her horses—sometimes a combination of the three. She is based in Indiana and can often be spotted in jumper rings across the Midwest and Florida aboard her strawberry roan, Waffle.