“Let us introduce you to Mongolia” is the slogan for the Gobi Desert Cup, and although we here at Globetrotting HQ feel as though the epic riding holidays we offer in this beautiful country do that (and more), we’ve got to admit, a 480km multi-stage endurance ride across the Gobi Desert sounds like a hell of a lot of fun. The inaugural event has just taken place this month (September) and saw 16 competitors from around the world ride a new Mongolian horse each day for 80km over six days. And the good news is globetrotters, the race was a success and the event organisers are already looking forward to next year and inviting people to enter.
Unlike the Mongol Derby, which involves competitors independently navigating the course, the Gobi Desert Cup follows a marked track, making the whole experience a little less rough and gruelling, but still challenging all the same. Starting at 7am every morning, each rider sets out and must reach the next camp before 7pm that evening. There are two vet checkpoints stationed each day, one at the 40km mark and the second at the end of the 80km. Each rider has 30 minutes after entering the camp to present their horse to the vets for inspection, and their horses must be sound at the trot and have their heart rate below 64bpm to continue the race. There is also a compulsory vet hold of 40 minutes after vetting at each checkpoint to allow the horses (and riders) to rest, drink some water and eat some food.
The horses used for the Gobi Desert Cup are actually selected by the event organisers (there is a selection criteria based on health, age, experience, ability for endurance etc) and undertake endurance training before the event.
But what I particularly love the sound of, is that each night throughout the race, competitors actually stay at a traditional Mongolian ger camp with a local family. This means that not only is the Gobi Desert Cup a competition, but it’s also a chance for riders to connect with the Mongol people, experience their wonderful generosity and connect with their heritage and culture. #winning If you speak to any of our globetrotters who have been fortunate to ride in Mongolia, they will all speak very fondly of the Mongol people they met throughout their riding adventure.
Participating in an endurance event can be a gruelling process, both physically and mentally. But there is no better feeling than being up for the challenge. The relationship you form with your horse, where you work together for something (80km a day) is not easy. You need to have a level of trust, and that’s what’s so fun about it – you get to share this entire experience with a horse!
So who’s up for this race next year?
Oh and don’t worry, if you don’t think you’re quite ready for an endurance race of this calibre yet, you can still explore the amazing country of Mongolia on our 13-day and 19-day riding holidays! #winning Click here for further information.
Reference & Image Credits: Gobi Desert Cup