7 Tips for Surviving the Mongol Derby – The World’s Longest & Toughest Horse Race

7 Tips for Surviving the Mongol Derby – The World’s Longest & Toughest Horse Race


Hello Equestrian Adventuresses! In this
video, I’m going to be sharing with you my tips for surviving the Mongol Derby – the world’s longest and toughest horse race in the world. And I’m sitting here
on set of our upcoming documentary, an episode about Greenland, so “Horse Riding in Greenland.” So yes, those are actual icebergs floating around behind me. And I
wanted to do this video about the Mongol Derby, while here in Greenland, because
it’s August. And every year in August is when 30 to 40 riders from all around the
world actually travel to Mongolia to compete in this, in this race, in this
competition. And so I wanted to wish everyone good luck on this year’s Derby
and in future derbies. And I also wanted to share with you some of my personal
survival tips! I completed the Mongol Derby back in 2014. And yep, it’s
definitely an adventure! So before I get into my survival tips from the Mongol
Derby, please do me a favor: hit that subscribe button and also share this
video with your friends. Especially, you know, watch our upcoming episode about
Greenland and we have lots of documentaries coming out from all around the world featuring Equestrian Adventuresses just like you. So please hit
the subscribe button and share it with your friends! Surviving the Mongol Derby – Tip Number 1: Learn some Mongolian! I know, you know, when you’re sitting in America or wherever it seems a little bit difficult to try and pick up a few words of
Mongolian. Not a problem! What you need to do: get there a couple of days early
to the capital city of UB – Ulaanbaatar. And the first time you sit in a
taxi heading towards your hostel or wherever you need to be asking the taxi
driver how do you say “Hello”, how do you say “How are you?” and most importantly
“Give me the fastest horse, please.” Another tip with learning some Mongolian: you can actually preprint a letter in Mongolian. Something to the effect of: “Hi, I’m competing in a horse race and, you know, can I stay with you for the night
and maybe you can offer me somewhere to sleep and some food.” I had a letter just
like this when I was riding in the Derby and it it did actually help quite a bit.
But you would be surprised how much, although the Mongolians don’t speak any
English, how much you can actually communicate with them just by miming and yeah playing charades. Tip number 2: Leave your horse alone! Yeah?! They don’t need you! They don’t need your opinions! So what I would do when I picked my
horse and they had it all saddled and ready. I would check on my GPS which
direction I needed to go. And then I would get on and as soon as you’re on the horse starts running. So you just, maybe even with two hands, it’s up to you
– depends on the horse – but steer your horse into that general direction and
just let it fly. And then, you know, leave your horse alone! I rode mostly in
jumping seat and forward position – didn’t have much useful reins on most of them.
You also have a little lash which you can use to kind of encourage the horse
if you have a lazier one. But honestly for 40k, you’re not going to be able to
convince it to do very much. So yeah, leave your horse alone. They know the
land, they know the terrain and they know what they’re doing. So, I had a horse
which was galloping full speed in a valley where there’s lots of Marmot
holes. I don’t know what a Marmot hole looks like. I trusted that my horse knew
and at that speed he was running – if his foot was to go into a marmot hole, I’m
pretty sure, we were both gonna get killed. So what I did: I just let him have
the reins and I said: “You steer! Don’t kill us!” Tip number 3: Bring some oatmeal! I actually hadn’t thought of this personally myself. One of the other
riders who ended up scratching towards the end of the Derby gave me some of
their oatmeal which was in a ziplock bag. And at that point I had been living, you
know, breakfast, lunch and dinner on the Mongolian food which was fine. I didn’t
mind it. But it was the same fatty noodle soup every single day, three times a day.
And after you know seven days or whatever I was just sick of it. So they
handed me a little baggie of oatmeal. And that little baggie: it saved my life and
it got me to the finish line. If you are looking for other tips about what to
pack specifically, I have the perfect thing for you! I’ve actually made a
Mongol Derby packing list. You can find the link in our show notes. So just, you
know, hit the button down there you’ll see the link to our website equestrianadventuresses.com and you will see “Mongol Derby Packing List.” It’s got
everything you need on there. So you don’t have to worry. I already know all
of the rules you need 5 kg of gear and all this stuff and I put together a list
based on my personal experiences and other previous Derby competitors. What
type of boots they wore. What type of, if they had, half chaps. What type of jackets. What type of breeches. What type of sleeping bag. I have everything on there.
So be sure to click on that link “The Mongol Derby Packing List.” It’s going to
help you a lot! Tip number 4: This one might surprise
you especially the ladies traveling alone. Don’t stay in the horse stations.
I actually recommend staying with the local families not affiliated with the
Derby. And I know it’s a little bit scary when you’re a woman traveling alone as I
did, but actually, you know, as long as it’s not a ger filled with only men – you
know – make sure that when you ride up to a ger that you see ladies around,
families, children playing, you know, things like that. And you basically, you
know, hand your horse to the guy. He’s going to help you with your horse and the
family is going to welcome you in. They’re gonna feed you and they’re gonna
make you drink the Arak drink. And, you know, they’re just gonna spoil the crap
out of you. And a lot of them, you know, they actually gave me their bed.
There was one bed in the ger and they refused to sleep in it while I was their
guest. And, you know, they’re really gonna welcome you and it’s just such an
amazing experience. And I personally really recommend not
staying at horse stations and staying with the local families. If you stay in
the horse stations, you know, you’re going to be crammed in there with 10-15 other
riders. They’re all probably grumpy and stinky just like you. I’m trying to win
or whatever it is that they’re doing. So, I highly recommend staying with the … the nomadic families. And, you know, that’s part of the experience! It’s, I think, meeting the Mongolian people. Tip number 5: If you have never used your instincts
before you better tune in. Yeah, you’re gonna need to use your gut – your gut
feeling. The feeling you have in your belly and your instincts. The GPS is
going to tell you, you know, go this direction. But it’s not going to tell you
how to navigate through the mountains or the marshes or, you know, whatever it is.
So when you’re looking at a situation whatever the obstacle is in front of you – you really need to tune in to your gut and your feelings and your instincts! And
that is what’s going to help you cross the finish line more than anything else!
More than the little blue dot on your GPS. And more than whatever gear and
equipment that you have packed with you. It’s going to be your gut and your
instincts and your determination to finish! Also when you’re choosing horses use
your gut, use your instincts. The Mongolians might recommend you some
really awful horses, they might recommend you some really good ones. But always,
always, always use your gut feeling! If it looks like it’s a bit of a squirrely one
or it’s a little too much for you, don’t do it! What’s the point? You know, it’s not
worth falling off or getting injured and getting scratched from the competition.
So use your gut. Tip number 6: Ride with someone! And I think a lot of people
forget about this, you know, especially if they’re very focused on winning. You know, if they want to win and they want to go, go, go, go, go. But you’ll be surprised to
know that actually there’s quite a lot of people who finish the Mongol Derby
first – with someone, with a person that they were riding with. So, you know, yes –
you might be determined to win but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer. It
doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. It’s actually so much more fun if you
ride with someone. And trust me on the Mongolian steppes the type of
friendships you’re gonna make are lifelong. You’re not making friends,
you’re making like brothers or sisters or, you know, second cousins or whatever.
You know you’re making deep bonds with people. So I really recommend riding with
someone and it just makes the experience so much more fun. When I started the
Mongol Derby, I was determined to do it a solo adventure. I was going to just ride
by myself because I was so used to traveling and working with horses in
crazy countries – alone. After day 3, I realized how miserable it was and how
awful it was. And I just wasn’t having any fun. And so on the morning of the
fourth day I teamed up with another rider and we ended up finishing together.
And it was the best decision I made of the Derby. We became really good friends
and we still keep in touch to this day. And I think I, you know, a lot of the
obstacles and challenges that we faced – I would have had such a different
experience if I had been on my own. And I really appreciated having that company
and that companionship. Lastly Tip number 7: This one is for the ladies, mostly.
If you’re riding especially on a crazy fast horse with no
brakes and you really have to pee. There is a solution: firstly, you need to point
your horse to a river. You got to find a river, somewhere. You can usually look it
up on your GPS if you don’t see any. But point your horse towards a river. Put it
knee-deep in water and then that way you can hold the reins in one hand, unhook
yourself and you know squat a little bit while it’s dancing around in the water.
If it’s knee-deep, it’s not going to be able to jump around too much. And you
will be able to dismount on and off your horse so much easier. Knee-deep in water! Because some of these Mongolian horses – once you’re off, they’re not going to let
you back on. So you need to get off, do your business, get back on while they’re
still in the water. They can’t do anything about it, it’s great! Because of this trick you will need tall boots which are waterproof. I had some. What I
used and what I recommend is actually in that packing list
“The Mongol Derby Packing List” on equestrianadventuresses.com
So be sure to click on the show notes and read that packing list. And I think it’s going to
help you quite a lot. Of course we have several recommendations from other
riders. But that is what I personally did and it was very effective. So yep,
that one is just for you ladies and good luck with Mongol Derby! And I look
forward to hearing your guys’s comments and if any of these tips worked for you.
And maybe you have some other extra tips that you would recommend to others.
Please comment below because, you know, the more we can help each other the
better. So good luck and thanks for watching!

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