Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Four-legged beauties.



T
he breed of horses that are found in Mongolia are the Przewalski's Horse. Unlike their European cousins, the Lippazaners and the Andaluasians, this breed is not a tall, lean, muscular stallions. Instead, they are short, stocky mustangs that roam freely on the range....they are the working horses of Mongolia. Even so, they are beautiful, with large heads and long manes and tails.

Most times, the horses we saw looked pretty scraggily (is that a word?). I would imagine that staying outdoors all day and night does not do wonders for your coat of hair. But, one day we came across this small herd of horses, grazing lakeside. Obviously, a herd of domesticated horses....they looked like they were well cared for.

Foals that had been born earlier in the year were still nursing. Some were just relaxing, laying on the ground.
































































Though these horses were obviously used to humans, we still approached them with caution. Lucky for, my camera can zoom from quite a distance to capture close up shots.

As we were watching the horses, graze, out of nowhere came a Mongolian nomad on horse. This was herd. We watched him round up the horses and ride off into the distance.



At our ger camp near Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (Great White Lake), I would actually get to ride one of these horses courtesy of a local farmer who basically, for a fee, allowed us to go for a short ride. My mount was a mare so I had her foal tagging along the entire time. At one point, she heard a horse neighing and I'm guessing she recognized the *voice* because she took off the direction of the sound. I had to hang on tightly to the reins until one of the handlers came and rescued me.



As we were mounting the horses, we were instructed to not make any noises that would spook them. A short distance after we started our ride, we stopped for a break. There, Violeta untied her plastic rain jacket from around her waist. That small sound was enough to rattle her horse into action. I was near Adam and both his horse and mine started to take off. I pulled back hard on the reins and managed to keep my horse steady. As I looked around to see what had happened, I saw that poor Violeta had been thrown off her horse. Luckily, she didn't fall far. She got up and brushed herself off....and got a bit of a scolding from the farmer. That was the end of the ride for her. The rest of us decided we would also dismount and walk the rest of the way to our destination.



It was too short a ride but I did enjoy every minute of it!!