Festivals & Events

Horse Riding in Mongolia? 5 Reasons to try it!

Homestay Mongolia Etiquette
Written by Town & Tourist

Horse Riding in Mongolia? So some people have called Mongolia “Land of Horses”…but why? Mongolia is home to some of the most beautiful wild horses in the entire world and even seeing them is a true a wonder…but taking a ride on one across the authentic natural Landscape is even better!

From Mountains, national parks and even the Gobi Desert! Horse riding in Monglia is a bucket list experience. In this article I will outline the 5 reasons why you should try it and also give you details on how to book a horse riding tour or even do it via a Homestay in Mongolia!

Horse riding in Mongolia golden eagle festival

Horse riding in Mongolia, is an amazing experience especially if you check out golden eagle festival!

1. Mongolian Horses are amazing animals! 

The Mongolian horse is a native horse breed of Mongolia, they are extremely beautiful and look different to alot of other horse breeds you will see from around the world. The amazing thing about this horses is they have been bred mostly in isolation and thus largely unchanged in appearance and statue since the time of Genghis Khan! The actual Mongolian horse has been documented by the Monglians since 2000 BC!

Due to this some experts say that the Mongol horse is the “oldest true breed of horse”. Described by many as “Tough and willing” , the Mongolian Horse has unmatched stamina and is extremely skilled at negotiating a variety of terrain. From rocky rivers, to steep mountain inclines and even swimming across a rivers flood plain at high water!

Mongolian Horses

Horses are beautiful creatures!

The Mongolian Horse will never leave you stranded, they are persistence and perfectly adaptable to the harsh terrain of Mongolia!

As a trusty horse to Genghis Khan, the Mongol horses played a key factor during the 13th century conquest of the Mongol Empire, due to these amazing Physical abilities.

The Mongolian horse also has an amazing mind and its ability to mentally map trails and places is unparalleled. According to Sabine from Stone Horse Monglia. 

“While trekking through the backcountry, the Mongolian Horse has even suggested a shortcut to another trail we are heading for and has always been right!”

Personality of a Mongolian Horse: 

The Mongolian horse is well regarded as being very affectionate and likeable. Once the Mongolian horse gets used to the rider, the horses are reliable, loyal, friendly and cool under pressure! I have never seen a horse negotiate such difficult terrain and even crossing through rivers so easily without breaking a sweat!

Mongolian Horses grazing

Mongolian Horses grazing

Self Sufficiency of a Mongolian Horse:

Another reason why the Mongolian horses have been trusted allies of the Mongolians for thousands of years, is due the ability for them to provide milk for the mongolians which previously allowed them to continue on for long journeys without having to carry too much food and Water. These days in Mongolia “mares milk” is fermented to create a n Alcoholic beverage called “Airag“…this is very popular in Mongolia and definitely worth a try.

Mongols Drinking Horse milk with Supreme court judge

American Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas drinks fermented horse milk with herders in a yurt during his visit to Mongolia in 1961.

If your feeling unsure about drinking horse milk…think of the words of the great Dalai Lama “The only difference between Cows milk and Horse Milk is one comes from a horse and the other from a cow!” , who can argue with that logic??

However, apart from the cultural significance and backing of the Dalai Lama, horse milk has a host of health benefits. According to the Daily Reporter: “Horse Milk or Mares Milk a high content of enzymes such as lactoferrin, lysozyme which provide antibacterial stimulation of the immune system”

Breeds of Mongolian Horses:

In General, the Mongolian horse has the appearance of a pony to many and is relatively small in build. However, the mongol horse varies in abilities and appearance depending upon the different region it’s breed comes from.

There are four types of Mongolian horse breeds, the Gobi, Mountain, Steppe and Forest. As you might have guessed the “Gobi” is a desert horse and comes from the Gobi Desert Region, this mongolian horse is the smallest and most suited to the desert environment.

The second Mongolian horse breed is the Steppe, this is also one of the smaller breeds but is faster and a great horse for riding! The Forest Breed, is the largest, heaviest and thus slowest of the horse breed, this is most suited for very long treks.

Mongolian Horse herding

Mongolian Boy herding sheep using a horse.

While the Mountain Mongolian Horse in the middle in terms of physical size and a good all rounder, especially for…as you might of guessed…inclines and Mountains. As a rule of thumb Mongol horses from the north of Mongolia are larger while the southern, gobi horses are smaller.

Prestige of a Mongolian Horse:

Out of the five types of herd animals in Mongolian, including (Horses, Camels, Oxen, sheep and goats). The Mongolian Horses are held in the highest regard and a nomad with lots of horses is considered to be very wealthy.

Mongolian Horse riding

A local Mongolian riding his horse before Naadam festival

2. Stunning Landscape of Mongolia 

Mongolia has one of the most stunning and diverse environments in the entire world! With features from alpine forests and grasslands to sand dunes, salt lakes and even Mountain glaciers!  North and west Mongolia are also Seismically active zones with frequent earthquakes, hot natural springs and many extinct Volcanoes.

With  temperatures ranging from -40’C in the winter nights to summer temperatures of +40’C  in the Gobi desert and even +33’C in the capital Ulaanbaatar!

Stunning Mongolian Landscape

Stunning Mongolian Landscape

This is another reason why the Mongolian horses are such amazing creatures, they spend time outdoors throughout the year and are perfectly adapted to the weather conditions. Many Mongolian Horses are even left to search for food on their own, and graze when they see fit.

So when your riding through Mongolia on your horse riding tour, past the great mountains and even Asia’s largest freshwater lakes (Lake Khövsgöl), you will be sure to have a memorable and life changing experience.

Horse riding in Mongolia

Mongolia has an extraordinary breath taking Landscape

3. Mongolian People

Despite the image of the infamous and ruthless Genghis Khan, the majority of Mongolians are in fact the complete opposite! The Mongolian people are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet, with very little malice. They are generous, loyal, calm and have a great sense of humour especially after they have drank some of the alcoholic horse milk (Airag)!

Mongolian Kids, People

The Mongolian people are some of the friendliest you will ever meet.

When it comes to intelligence, you will never meet a more resourceful and smart breed of people who perfectly marry nature with a traditional lifestyle. Some call them the “Vikings of the East” to their various qualities.

Do Mongolians Speak English? 

Although English is not the official language in Mongolia, it has grown in recent years due to the increased tourism and investment opportunities from Westerners.

The Mongol Language is an Altaic language, related to the Turkic languages, such as Uzbek, Turkish, and Kazakh, and more distantly to Korean.

Most schools nowadays teach some basic English and in the Capital Ulaanbaatar, you should be fine. However, it is important to get to grips with the basic Cyrillic alphabet and some useful Mongolian Phrases. See this great article on the Do’s and Don’ts in Mongolia to learn a few basic phrases. 

4. Cultural/Historical Significance

As Mentioned previously Mongolia is a Historical place with many intriguing cultural Traditions and Festivals! Apart from being able to ride the same horse breed as Genghis Khan, you will also get to live like a true “Nomad”. Especially if you take part in a Mongolian Homestay and even check out some of their great horse festivals, while there. Such as the great Mongolian Eagle Festival in October. 

Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia

The Magnificent Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia

Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia:

Annually in October, golden eagle hunters come together from all over western Mongolia, (Bayan-Ulgii province), to celebrate this remarkable tradition. Eagle hunting is a practice which dates back thousand of year in Central Asia. This is a fascinating event and great if your a Photographer. Watch the video below, for more.

5. A Bucket list experience.

Overall, taking a horse riding tour in Mongolia is a bucket list experience and combined with the Golden Eagle Festival, you will feel even more inspired and horse mad! This would definitely not be your standard vacation and definitely one to tell the grand kids about.

What if i’ve never ridden before?

This will not be a problem, before I went to Mongolia the only horse riding i’d ever done was on a small pony at the county fair…so don’t worry. If you pick a great tour they will handle that and give you guidance throughout. You will get to know your Mongolian horse, and really get in touch with the animal on your tour.

You will be taught how to ride if you’ve never rode before or even how to adapt to a Mongolian Horse if your an experience rider.

horse riding in Mongolia

Horse riding in Mongolia is a true bucket list experience

Need help booking a Horse riding tour in Mongolia? 

Drop us an email at Mail(at)townandtourist.com, then one of our experts will get back to you, answer any questions you may have and help to book your flights, accommodation and horse riding tour at the most competitive price. Please be aware the best horse riding tours sell out fast in Mongolia, so drop us an email today to avoid disappointment.

Riding a Horse in Mongolia – Tips:

  • Don’t wear loose clothing which could flap in the wind. A raincoat is fine which zips up securely.
  • Approach your horse Calmly and carefully, try not to give it a shock or surprise! This can be said for many types of horses, but especially the Mongolian horse as they survive by themselves for most of the year.
  • Try not to make sudden movements while riding the horse. If you need too shout to the group ahead and inform them that you need to stop.
  • Try not to lean forward, this is because the Mongolian horses often move their head up to get rid of small flies which can annoy them by nibbling on the inside of their nostrils and ears.
  • Try not to gallop or trot while sitting down, Its best to stand up on your stirrups as much as possible while riding a horse in Mongolia.
  • Its best not to use your legs to ask your horse to move. It’s best to Tchou firmly.
  • Hold the reins in one hand, and use only neck reins.
  • When de mounting the horse keep your foot in the stirrup Source.

Best time to travel to Mongolia for a Horse Riding tour:

The best time to visit Mongolia, depends on the type of trip you would like! In general, the Summer Months are great from mid June till the end of August. 

This time of year has the best weather with still a little rain which keeps the grasslands lush and green. September is also a great time to visit! Not too hot or cold, the autumn colors add a magic to the Mongolian Scenery and are a great time to take a horse ride.

best time to go horse riding in Mongolia

Best time to go horse riding in Mongolia

If you fancy checking out one of the great Mongolian festivals, then you have a few options.

Mongolian Naadam Festival?

If you wish to check out the Mongolian Naadam Festival you should take a trip in July. This traditional Mongolian festival features, Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and even archery, and are held throughout the country in July.  Due to the three events, this is festival is known locally as “the three games of men” or  “eriin gurvan naadam”  in the Mongolian Language.

Naadam Festival Mongolia

Naadam Festival Mongolia. Photo by discovermongolia.mn

Golden Eagle Festival:

Like I mentioned previously for the Golden Eagle Festival, you will want to book your trip before October and make sure your in Altai, western Mongolia for then.  There is also a couple of Golden eagle festivals in late September:

Here are the dates for 2019 Golden Eagle Festival:

1. 14-15 September 2019

2. 21-22 September 2019

3. 5-6 Oct 2019

Mongolian Eagle Keepers, Photo by Daniel Kordan

Gobi Desert Tour

The most popular season to try a Gobi Desert tour is between June and September with October being the shoulder season.

Northern Mongolia and Khuvsgul Lake:

For Northern Mongolia and Khuvsgul lake, the best times to visit are between July-August with September being the shoulder season.

Mongolia Winter season:

February is the best time to experience Mongolia winter season. However, if you wish to experience one of the Mongolian Winter or Ice festivals then March is your best bet.

However, be ware due to severe weather conditions they can sometimes be cancelled at the last minute. But if your lucky enough to attend you will be in for an experience of a lifetime.

The Ice Festival in Mongolia:

Held annually,  on the southern border of the Siberian forest, Lake Khovsgol, the Blue Pearl of Mongolia, completely freezes over! This creates a breath taking winter playground with sturdy foundations of nearly six foot in Ice!

Mongolian ice festival

Mongolian Ice festival Photo by Celine Jentzch

This is a great time to see the Reindeer herders of Mongolia (Thats right Reindeer!) the Tsaatan tribe cme down from the north to take part in the traditional races and games over the two days event. Here you will see such unique and spectacular events as Ice wrestling, dog sleeding and even Horse sleigh racing. There is even an hillarious tug o war…which didn’t look easy at -35’C!

Reindeer Riding in Mongolia! Sorry Santa…

Fancy Something really different? Try Reindeer Riding in Mongolia! Like I mentioned previously the Tsaantan Tribe are the Reindeer herders of Mongolia. They have the proud title of being the world only nomadic tribe which still herds and rides reindeer! Step aside Santa Claus! 

Reindeer Riding Mongolia

Reindeer Riding is a very unique feature to Mongolian Nomadic Tribes

This fairy tale experience is breath taking and a real great story for the grand kids. With a rock mountain landscape as the playground, this is a great experience to see!

However, be aware getting there is not easy…

How to visit the Tsaantan Tribe?

I will tell you one thing it’s a long journey, but if your a real adventurer its worth it!  After a Flight to the Capital Ulaanbaatar. You will need fly from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön. From there it’s just two days off roading in an old school Russian camper van and then just another 2 days horse back riding!

But once, you get there it will be an authentic experience like no other and you will welcomed as part of the tribe! From herding the reindeer to drinking reindeer milk tea, making homemade noodles…this is probably the MOST AUTHENTIC tRAVELING EXPERIENCE you could ever try!

Want to not get in trouble while in Mongolia??

Check out this great article on the Cultural Do’s and Don’ts to know while in Mongolia and scams to avoid in the Capital!

 

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