Posts Tagged With: horse riding holiday in mongolia

My Magical Mongolian Adventure!

Claire Douglas from In The Saddle tells us about her recent trip to Mongolia. Here, she highlights the best bits of her trip from the tiny horses to amazing vistas.


I was so excited when I was offered the chance to visit Mongolia as it has been a lifelong dream of mine to go there!  I think this is because of its strong connection to horses and how horses are still central to the country’s culture.  I set off to my epic trip half way across the world, landing in Ulaanbaatar, the capital.  I was joining a special agent trip combining the current rides we offer, so that I could experience the two very different locations, the Orkhon valley and the Bayan Gobi desert.

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The view of the Orkhon valley

Shortly after arriving, we were whisked off to the Hustai National Park for a late lunch followed by a jeep safari to spot the wild Przewalski horses (the Mongolian word is ‘takhi’) that have been re-introduced into the park in 1992.  Due to their great camouflage they were very difficult to spot!  Eventually we had a sighting and rushed over in the jeep to see them, parking nearby.  After a short walk up hill we spied the herd and their babies.  It was a great sight to see the closest link to prehistoric horses that exists nowadays.

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Tahki horses in Hustai National Park

After this we drove a further four hours towards to the Orkhon valley arriving at night at our next ger camp.  Ger is the Mongolian word for yurt.  We also met the horses and the herdsmen to be accompanying us the next day.

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A traditional ‘ger’ tent

I was paired with a small chestnut horse (around 12hh) with a small white marking on his forehead.  He was incredibly sweet and very responsive to neck reining (which is how they have trained the horses to steer).  It does take some time to adjust to these tiny horses (I’m 5’ 8’’) with their short strides and flattish gaits.  Mongolians traditionally ride in wooden framed saddles (see below) luckily for us they have adapted more comfortable saddles for the guest riders (although less colourful).  The adapted saddles consist of a cushioned frame with metal handles to the front and back which is comfortable for long hours in the saddle.  It is a different riding style compared with traditional English riding as Mongolians stand in the stirrups during anything faster than a walk for long periods at a time.  I found the stamina of these horses to be incredible, they just keep going and going! We completed 40 km the first day and due to their size and flattish gait, the overall experience was quite smooth and not too tiring.

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A Mongolian horse with traditional saddle

Another highlight was staying with a traditional Mongolian family.  It was fascinating to see how they live without many of the modern day conveniences that we take for granted such as running water and electricity.  Family life is very busy with the men herding the animals and tending to them whilst the women milk the mares and yaks as well as cooking for the family.  We were invited to bring the yaks down from the mountains which was a magical experience during a golden sunset.

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Milking of the yaks! Always done by the women.

Then next day we rode to Orkhon Falls, a beautiful waterfall appearing out of nowhere.  As we were out of season there was no one else there and it was great to have the view to ourselves. After lunch we jumped back into the cars and headed towards our next location, the Bayan Gobi desert.

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Orkhon Falls

We were paired up with new mounts (another little chestnut for me) and I found riding in the desert was really fun, especially up and down the dunes. However it is slower paced than the riding on the steppe as the sand is hard work for the horses.

Once we reached our lunch spot we were surprised by a caravan of camels heading in our direction, what a sight to behold!  We had the opportunity of riding these majestic beasts!  What a different sensation to riding a horse, much slower and much further off the ground.  We set off around the dunes finishing off with a race (mine decided not to enter and went no faster than a walk!)

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Bactrian camels

My trip ended with a visit to Gandan monastery and a traditional Mongolian show.  It was an amazing experience to see traditional musicians, throat singers and even a contortionist.  The show was really a first class experience.

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Traditional mask to ward away enemies

This is a country unlike any other I had visited before, the big blue skies and endless scenery have really made a lasting impression on me.  Riding these little horses alongside generations of horsemen is an experience I will never forget.

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A local herdsman

In The Saddle covers a range of adventurous rides in Mongolia:

For those adventurous souls who enjoy camping we have:

Camping trail, 12 nights, staying in 2 person tent, you explore remote areas of the Orkhon valley.  On three days you ride into the Naiman Nuur Park with pack yaks. You spend one night spent with a Mongolian family and another at a semi-permanent ger camp.


The tents used on the Orkhon Valley Camping trail and Mongolia Express rides.

This is a a truly, ‘into the wild’ experience as on part of this trail your kit is carried by pack yaks as the area is inaccessible to vehicles.

The pace on these days will be dictated by the terrain and the pack yaks


The pack yaks, leading the way!

For those who like the idea of a two destination camping holiday exploring both the desert and steppe, we have:

Dunes and Steppes of Mongolia, 12 nights, this combines riding in the Orkhon valley with riding in the Bayan Gobi Desert.  You stay in 2 person tents, spend one night in a ger next to a Nomadic family and one night at a semi-permanent ger camp.

The variety of scenery is amazing, riding in the desert is a fun experience.

The desert is tends to be slower paced than riding in the steppe due to the sand being hard work for the horses.

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Bayan Gobi Desert

If you don’t wish to camp but still want to experience this great country, the following trail would be suitable as you stay in comfortable gers along the way:

Ger trail, 12 nights, you stay at semi-permanent ger camps along the Orkhon valley and spend one night close to a Nomadic family.

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Semi-permanet ger camp at Hustai National Park

Mongolia Express, 7 nights, for those short on time this camping trail offers 5 days riding through Central Mongolia. You spend one night camping close to a Mongolian family.

For more information on the Mongolian rides or to book your place please call Claire on +44 1299 272 243 or email

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Travel news | Tags:

October 2013: Heard on the grapevine

The best way to find out exactly what a holiday is like is to hear directly from someone who has experienced it! We hope that reading the feedback from some of our recent In The Saddle clients will give you that ‘inside’ information and inspire you to book your next trip…

Week after week, month after month, we never tire of hearing the wonderful stories from Los Alamos in Spain. It is no wonder it is one of our most popular trips! Keren Brocklebank-Smith visited the beautiful destination for the first time this year and highly recommends it. “The most important thing for me was the people really cared for the horses, treating them with kindness, respect and love,” she says. This is always wonderful to hear as we take a lot or pride in ensuring all our rides meet our high welfare standards.

Los Alamos offers some of the best beach riding in the world!

Los Alamos offers some of the best beach riding in the world!

For Andrea Skaggs, who also travelled to Los Alamos for a short break, she has returned home addicted! “The land through which we rode was STUNNING. The variety of terrain, the great trail conditions and the climate far exceeded my expectations. The food and Tinto de Verano will be the stuff of my dreams for months to come; my poor horses are suffering the consequences of my overindulgence! In The Saddle will now be my resource for planning the best times of my life.”

Meanwhile, in Catalonia, Linda Heinrichs was embarking on the Mediterranean Trail and was bowled over by the trip. “We were a separate group of eight girls and when we galloped we smiled from ear to ear! Obviously Simon, our guide, saw that and we galloped as much as possible throughout the week! It was truly one of the best things I have experienced.”

Smiles come as part of the package in Catalonia!

Smiles come as part of the package in Catalonia!

In a different part of the world many of our clients were falling in love with Africa and all that the wonderful continent has to offer. Sometimes you don’t need many words to some up a trip and Elizabeth Squire came back from her trip to Horizon in South Africa and simply said “Booking this trip was one on the best decisions I’ve made in my 36 years on this planet so far!” We don’t think you can better that comment!

It is easy to fall in love with South Africa at Horizon!

It is easy to fall in love with South Africa at Horizon!

Penny Robinson enjoyed her ‘glamping’ experience at Motswiri Camp in the north east of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. “The horses were perfect for their job. Our guides were fantastic and very knowledgeable and the ‘glamping’ standards were maintained even when we spent the night at the flycamp. We always had hot water for showers, and starched napkins at dinner! We were riding in a pristine wilderness with sightings of all sorts of animals and birds and felt safe at all times.”

Combine luxury accommodation and exciting riding at Motswiri

Combine luxury accommodation and exciting riding at Motswiri

In the remote eastern corner of Botswana lies an area known historically as the Tuli enclave and Sarah Shewring thoroughly enjoyed her trip here at the Limpopo Lodge Safari. “I think this was the best riding holiday I have ever done! The horses were fantastic and so were the guides. The holiday was exhilarating, challenging and fun but at the same time I felt safe and confident! I haven’t stopped smiling!”

The riding at Limpopo is exhilarating

The riding at Limpopo is exhilarating

United States
Described as ‘the last best place’ Montana certainly lived up to expectations for Lauren Crawley-Moore when she visited Sweet Grass. “Angels on horseback sums up this holiday,” she says. “Brilliant horses, hugely helpful and knowledgeable wranglers, excellent food and a bedroom cabin that was straight out of little house on the prairie! For someone who has owned and ridden horses all her life this is the ultimate experience in ‘big country’ riding. Bring your boots and your hat and Montana does the rest. It is an experience to treasure and to share – I am now a showjumper turned cowgirl!”

Spectacular vistas at Sweet Grass

Spectacular vistas at Sweet Grass

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado provide a superb backdrop for a horseback vacation and Claire Towler is in agreement after visiting the Colorado Cattle Company! “This is something special,” she says. “You have the chance to be a cowgirl/boy for a week and experience ranch life. I even managed to rope a cow by the end of the week – with help from an obliging cow mind you! If you want a real ranch experience with fantastic surroundings, great food and great people then you can’t go far wrong here.”

Embrace your inner cowboy/girl in Colorado

Embrace your inner cowboy/girl in Colorado

Our very own Olwen Law believes that Mongolia is a country everyone should see and it is said to be where nomads invented riding! Although not your typical equestrian break, a riding expedition in Mongolia is a life-changing experience and several of our clients have written to us in agreement. Annie Dumas set off on the Gobi Steppe Ride, which takes you south of the capital Ulaanbaatar, beyond the Bogdkhan mountains, through grassland steppes, sand dune areas and the giant rock formations of Zorgul Hairhan Uul. “There was a lot of galloping every day which meant very exciting rides,” she says. “The campsites were fantastic, the ger for meals was comfortable and the tourist camp at the end of the riding was a blessing. The Mongolian tourist guide was good and very kind. Everything was well organized and I miss the cook and my horse already!”

A trip to Mongolia is life-altering!

A trip to Mongolia is life-altering!

For Claudine Douville the Gobi Steppe Ride delivered everything and more. “After building an understanding with my horse in the first few hours it was like we had been together all the time,” she says. “They are very strong horses and can gallop for a long time, even on the eighth day of the ride. My horse was the best of all! The cook did a wonderful job with the food, I am coeliac, one person was vegetarian and another allergic to mushrooms and lactose – but she handled that very professionally and made very tasty meals. Haanda, our guide and interpreter, was very helpful and always ready to give us information about the country and the way of life. The horse guide, Bayaraa, was very professional and despite not speaking English we could understand him very well. We left Mongolia with a very good opinion of the people.”

The Big Skies Horse Trail in Mongolia takes place in the Khan Khentii Special Protected Area, north-east of Ulaanbaatar and for Ann Barnett it gave her the perfect antidote to the stresses of daily life in the west and she found the horses to be perfectly behaved. “Mongolian horses are very easy to ride. They are sometimes described as ‘half wild’, but this should not put anybody off – it means they are not ‘schooled’ like our horses, and in fact they have none of the nervousness of our horses. My horse was docile but very eager and willing and never seemed to tire!”

You can see why they call this trip Big Skies!

You can see why they call this trip Big Skies!

Our other Mongolian trip, the Mongol Horse Trail, gives you the chance to experience two strikingly different areas, from the treeless steppes to the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Our client Uzal De Montserrat found that expectations were exceeded when joining this equestrian adventure. “The blessings of this journey will last throughout my life time! The riding was superb and varied, the horse guide Tumaroo, along with Kenzo the main guide are an awesome team! We were always engaged and each day was more spectacular than the day before. The horses got along with each other better than any horse trail that I’ve been on – they are quite special and have enormous amounts of energy for such small frames. I am indebted to the horse I rode for his gentle strength and radiant

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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