Semi-Wild Mongolian Horses, the Empty steppes…and me.
“Khorton muur un mara bon.”
I look the Mongolian man directly in his eyes as the words escape my lips. The only words I could speak in Mongolian translated to: “Give me your fastest horse please.” The hardened man’s eyebrows lifted out of both curiosity and respect. He sized me up, as if assessing which of the line of 40-summod horses would be most suitable for me.
Standing at 5’8 and with natural blonde hair and green eyes, I stood out to say the least. Not to mention the fact that I was a woman. And I was solo… [Read the full article-The Mongol Derby, Toughest Horse Race in the World-published on Extreme Nomads]
I can’t say I am not a competitive person, heck I’m a professional Show Jumping Rider and Coach!!! Of COURSE I am competitive! But when it came to the Mongol Derby, to finish is to WIN. (Let’s face it the winner only get’s bragging rights and two days less riding time…) I didn’t want to win, so much as I wanted to FINISH. I was hungry to conquer this Derby. I wanted to prove myself and do it on my own, blonde girl style!
I had been living in Egypt, India, Romania and remote places so I knew I could digest steel and the local Mongolian “Airag” (Fermented Mares Milk) and cuisine wouldn’t be a challenge for me. But being a woman in this male dominated country WOULD BE. So I was smart.
For me, this race was originally meant to be a solo trip. A true test of survival skills, horsemanship and strength as I braced myself to tackle the steppes with nothing more than me, myself and a half-crazy horse. The first two days of the adventure, I did exactly that. I hardly had time to eat as I worked like a machine, riding one horse to the next and galloping wildly from sun up until sundown until my body would collapse in the evening from exhaustion.
And then something inside me changed… I had a revelation. A gut instinct. A feeling within. Hadn’t I already been working and living abroad solo for nearly half of a decade? Hadn’t I already proved my skills and solo prowess while living alone in India, Egypt, Bhutan and more? The answer was yes.
Around day three I teamed up with my new best friend from France and we ended up riding the grueling race to the end. We finished together on day ten after 1,128 kilometers in the saddle. No showers. No beds. And string after string of crazy Mongolian Ponies! But we did it! [Read the full article-Why I Stopped Being a Solo Traveler During the Mongol Derby-published on Pink Pangea]
So, if your thinking about tackling the Derby, be sure to get in touch with me or check out my podcast below where I was featured on WHOA! Podcast. I share lots of stories which you can listen to on my podcasts page. Listen in and ENJOY!
*Krystal is still active in the Endurance community and has a new goal in sight. She plans to CROSS AND ENTIRE COUNTRY on horseback!!! Be sure to check back regularly on her adventure and if you would like to invite her to ride at an endurance ride hosted by your facility or to hire her as a Mongol Derby coach in preparation to your big ride, don’t be shy!*