Equestrian tourism: Mongolia

Horses have long been a part of human culture. There are countless cultures all across the world that have made horses central to their culture going well back into pre-history—the domestication of the horse is suspected to have happened sometime about five thousand years ago though no one is entirely sure. Horses have been used by pretty much every culture from the Japanese to the Portuguese and everything in between. But there is probably no culture that became more closely associated with the horse than the Mongols.
While Mongolian history—like any other—stretches for centuries and has had different phases of development and its own golden and not-so-golden ages it was the 13th and 14th centuries that saw the Mongolians at the peak of their power.
The Mongols were predominately pastoralists and organised along tribes and clans. The Mongolian steppes are vast tracts of land and are difficult to survive in. For humans to survive and thrive, as they did, the horse was essential. In these harsh conditions, the Mongolian horse was bred. These beautiful creatures are rather smaller than many of their European counterparts. The tough conditions of the steppes and the Gobi Desert meant that they are a very tough breed with strong endurance. The harsher conditions of the desert and the steppe meant that the horses didn’t grow too big and had to be able to survive for days and possibly weeks without food.
Nowadays the Mongolian horses are breed for tradition more than anything else. While there are nomadic people who rely on these horses for their survival, for the most part they are bred to keep up the long tradition of Mongol equestrian culture.
Visiting Mongolia to see these fascinating animals in their natural habitat—and of course to experience the Mongol people’s ancient and captivating culture—and no challenging. It’s quite simple to fly into Ulan Bator, the nation’s capital. One million of the country’s three million people live in the capital, which is also the country’s only real city. The rest of the people are spread thin across Mongolia’s vast plains—it’s the less densely populated country on the planet—where many of them live side-by-side with the Mongolian horse. A fascinating breed born of a fascinating country and well-worth the visit.