Horseriding from Tsetserleg

After a couple of days looking over horses and negotiating a price, we hired four horses and engaged Dureen’s relative Shijray as our guide. He had helped Dom and I choose horses the previous year and we already had a certain level of understanding and trust.

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The horses grazing during a rest stop

Jennie and I rode with Shijray for a week from Tsetserleg (Цэцэрлэг) to Bayankhongor (Ваянхонгор) via the Khangai Nuruu National Park. We rode a horse each plus a packhorse between the three of us. It was the season of airag (fermented mare’s milk) and many stops were made along the way at neighbouring gers to sample the local brew. Airag is an acquired taste with a slightly tangy off-milk flavour and is mildy alcoholic at about 3 – 4%.

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Those tiny white specs at the base of the mountain are a cluster of gers

Horseriding and alcohol are not always the best combination and I remember sliding forward over my saddle at one point going downhill when my horse suddenly stopped to avoid a marmot hole… Luckily it was a soft landing.

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A big day of riding was about seven hours in the saddle. At night we collected firewood from nearby hills and cooked a dinner of pasta and tuna which visiting guests from nearby gers weren’t too keen to try.

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Shijray at the cooking fire  [Image: Jennie S]

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