D.Davaakhuu: We can never grow dis­tant from horses

The UB Post - - Front Page - By B.DULGUUN

Horse train­ers across the coun­try are busy pre­par­ing for Naadam fes­ti­val’s horse rac­ing com­pe­ti­tions. One of them is D.Davaakhuu – a la­bor hero, state hon­ored herder and tod man­lai uy­ach (the high­est ti­tle for horse train­ers be­stowed after 12 of their horses win a state-level com­pe­ti­tion or 24 horses come in sec­ond place). He is cur­rently train­ing around 10 horses for the up­com­ing fes­ti­val in Bayantsogt soum in Tuv Prov­ince.

D.Davaakhuu speaks about horse train­ing and other rel­e­vant mat­ters in the interview be­low.

You came to Bayantsogt soum over a month ago. Why did you de­cide to come here?

I came here be­cause of the warm weather and abun­dant fod­der but this place has been bring­ing me un­ex­pected for­tune and good luck. I started train­ing horses in 1978. Back then I trained my horses here and one of them won the horse rac­ing com­pe­ti­tion of Naadam fes­ti­val, while an­other came in sec­ond. Forty years have passed since then. So that’s par­tially why I de­cided to train my horses here this year.

Back in the old days, I used to train state horses. In 1977, I trained the stal­lion that won. At the time, there was a high de­mand for skill­ful horse train­ers who can train adult horses (horses over the age of five) to win state races. I was work­ing as an X-ray tech­ni­cian back then. I had just en­rolled into the Mid­dle School of Med­i­cal Sci­ence. Later in fall, Chair­man of the Cen­tral Coun­cil of the De­fense As­sis­tant So­ci­ety, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral J.Jamiyan or­dered me to bring my fa­ther be­cause he wanted to meet him. After I ar­ranged a meet­ing for the two, J.Jamiyan told my fa­ther, who was a horse trainer, to make an adult horse win the na­tional horse rac­ing com­pe­ti­tion. Since my two younger sib­lings were still ba­bies, my dad sug­gested that I train the horse and that he would teach and guide me along the way. That’s how I left school and trained my first state horse. I was 28 years old then. My fa­ther was an ex­cep­tional horse trainer.

How were rac­ing horses se­lected from state horses? Is it sim­i­lar to how ex­perts go around re­cruit­ing promis­ing ath­letes from all over the coun­try for the na­tional team?

Mon­go­lian horses were used dur­ing the Bat­tles of Khalkhiin Gol and World War II. They con­sume lit­tle amount of fod­der, have great physique, are strong and ca­pable, and very durable. It’s said that Soviet Red Army Mar­shal Ge­orgy Kon­stanti­novich Zhukov com­mented, “Mon­go­lian horse are in­cred­i­ble” and tried to send a mes­sage us­ing a Mon­go­lian horse after win­ning World War II but other peo­ple dis­ap­proved of it, say­ing that he must use a Rus­sian horse. It’s also said that he brought in dif­fer­ent breeds of horse from Rus­sia to Mon­go­lia to make Mon­go­lian horses stronger and bet­ter, and es­tab­lished the Jar­galant Farm.

In 1950, the new breed, a bay stal­lion, won the na­tional horse race. Since then, four or five more of the same breed won the na­tional horse race. How­ever, as tech­nol­ogy ad­vanced, the use of horses de­creased and the horses at the farm were handed over to the Min­istry of De­fense.

Later, the Russians built a horse camp. Four stal­lions were last brought in from Rus­sia in 1966. Two of them were meant to be gifts to Mon­go­lia. That’s how hy­brid horses be­gan rac­ing in na­tional com­pe­ti­tions. Out of the horses I trained from the horse camp, 13 won the na­tional horse race.

Just as horses from Sukhbaatar Prov­ince are known for their speed, horses from dif­fer­ent re­gions have their spe­cialty. Why is that so?

Let’s think of (horses) as hu­mans. There are peo­ple who never get tired while there are those who are fast but run out of en­ergy fast. Horses from Sukhbaatar Prov­ince are with­out a doubt fast. There’s steppe land in Sukhbaatar so horses born there have thin skin. Horses born in ar­eas near moun­tains and rivers have thicker skin. That’s prob­a­bly the work of na­ture.

Look at Russians – none of them are bow­legged. Even their trees are straight. But Mon­go­lians are dif­fer­ent from them. I guess cer­tain peo­ple are born in cer­tain ar­eas.

There are fast horses in Khangai re­gion too. When 10 fast horses are born in the east of the coun­try each year, only one or two fast horses are born in the west. There may be few Mon­go­lian fast horses but you can’t say they are slow.

What’s the first thing you look at to find strong and fast rac­ing horses?

I look at their five or­gans and skin. It’s bet­ter if horses are cross-breed. You must treat horses just like a per­son. You have to ad­just your train­ing meth­ods de­pend­ing on the horse and their char­ac­ter­is­tics. Even if we learn and train horses all our life, we will not fully grasp the best train­ing method for each horse breed.

There are only few horses that died un­der my hands and slightly more that had to be am­pu­tated. Peo­ple say those who don’t chop off legs of horses are re­ally good train­ers.

A long time ago, peo­ple used to wel­come horse train­ers back home from na­tional com­pe­ti­tions with a greet­ing that goes “Amar sain yvav uu?” (Did you travel safely?) and horse train­ers replied “Mend saikhan ir­lee” (I came back well). This ex­change has a very im­por­tant mean­ing. If a horse trainer says he came well, then the other per­son can ask them how many of their horses won the race. Nowa­days, the re­sults are an­nounced im­me­di­ately via TV and ra­dios so young peo­ple don’t know this cul­ture.

Do you change di­ets of your horses be­fore com­pe­ti­tions?

Train­ing horses starts from ty­ing it up. You must treat it like a per­son.

Many of your horses par­tic­i­pated in na­tional com­pe­ti­tions. Which com­pe­ti­tion was the most mem­o­rable?

The first com­pe­ti­tion is some­thing I can never for­get. In 1972, 382 adult horses raced but my bay horse beat all of them. It was in­cred­i­ble. Be­fore that, one of my four-year-old horses won the na­tional horse race. I made two stal­lions of a per­son named M.Dash win the na­tional horse races in 1965 and 1966. Like so, I have many won­der­ful mem­o­ries. I can’t choose from them. Even so, I can’t for­get how amaz­ing it was to sit down with my fa­ther after get­ting 11 of my horses to tri­umph at the na­tional horse race. I think that hap­pened in 1985.

So far, how many of the horses you trained won or came sec­ond in na­tional com­pe­ti­tions?

Four­teen stal­lions and seven ikh nas (fiveyear-old) horses I trained won state horse rac­ing com­pe­ti­tions. An­other two stal­lions won lo­cal com­pe­ti­tions. I can’t re­call the other vic­to­ries right now. Over 70 of my horses won or came in sec­ond at na­tional horse races or­ga­nized dur­ing Naadam fes­ti­val. It’s not re­ally some­thing I keep track off. Be­sides, I don’t re­ally like talk­ing about it be­cause peo­ple can’t han­dle com­pli­ments. We sure can han­dle bad­mouthing but not com­pli­ments. There’s also Tsagaan khel am (get­ting jinxed by too many com­pli­ments and jeal­ousy). Most im­por­tantly, a per­son needs to have a cor­rect set of mind and avoid caus­ing trou­ble for oth­ers.

Wealthy peo­ple are buy­ing fast horses and get­ting good horse train­ers to train them so that they them­selves can get a state ti­tle. Doesn’t this de­value the ef­fort of horse train­ers?

The trainer is the one who makes the horse win. The owner is the one who helped it win. Peo­ple should un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween these two. I think that as peo­ple be­come more aware of this, horse own­ers will de­cide what kind of ti­tle/re­ward they will give to suc­cess­ful horse train­ers. If it were in the past, the owner would be a sports com­mit­tee di­rec­tor and the trainer a coach. There­fore, I’m not sure who should get the ti­tle.

I no­ticed that there are many peo­ple who hire oth­ers to train their horses. Our gen­er­a­tion has be­come old-minded so they don’t un­der­stand the mar­ket. The so­ci­ety has be­come re­ally dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing. We can’t blame any­one for it. We need to look back on the past. Young peo­ple are try­ing to take ad­van­tage of all rights and priv­i­leges be­fore they earn them. They need to ful­fill their obli­ga­tion be­fore ex­er­cis­ing their rights. For ex­am­ple, peo­ple should ac­tu­ally be able to get med­i­cal treat­ment be­fore re­tir­ing. The so­ci­ety has taken the wrong turn. A per­son ded­i­cates his heart and body to the state yet he/she is re­garded like an old car. The so­ci­ety shouldn’t be like this. Al­though they’re mak­ing peo­ple re­tire be­cause they can’t be of help, it’s no dif­fer­ent from throw­ing them away to die.

Lately, many peo­ple are voic­ing to ban horse races. They’re crit­i­ciz­ing that it’s wrong to let chil­dren race on horse­back. As a per­son who has been close to horses all your life, what do you think about this?

A group of peo­ple are mess­ing with the Mon­go­lian cul­ture. Peo­ple should cre­ate things on their own, but nowa­days, we’re im­port­ing a bunch of Korean dra­mas. Who needs that? So many peo­ple have be­come fans of Korean dra­mas and films.

I started rid­ing horses at the age of five. I heard that I was rid­ing a horse while asleep when I was a kid but I was com­pletely fine. The last time I par­tic­i­pated in a horse race was when I was 13 years old. A child who was sup­posed to ride one of our horses couldn’t par­tic­i­pate be­cause of a stom­achache and so I com­peted against over 1,000 peo­ple for the 40th an­niver­sary of Tuv Prov­ince in 1963. I was too heavy for the horse and came in 37th from the bot­tom.

I have been rais­ing horses for the past 43 years. I took a break only once in 1969. There’s noth­ing like rid­ing a horse. But I’m sure not ev­ery­one feels that way. I guess it can’t be helped be­cause there are cars, mo­tor­bikes and bi­cy­cles now. More­over, there are peo­ple who play with horse train­ers, mak­ing Mon­go­lians grow dis­tant from their na­tional cul­ture and life­style.

In fact, I think that a horse rid­ing club should be es­tab­lished in Ulaan­baatar. We can never grow dis­tant from horses. We of­ten boast that Mon­go­lians con­quered half of the world. They didn’t con­quer on foot. Our an­ces­tors were able to do it thanks to horses.

...We of­ten boast that Mon­go­lians con­quered half of the world. They didn’t con­quer on foot. Our an­ces­tors were able to do it thanks to horses...

Photo by G.ARGUUJIN

Photo by G.ARGUUJIN

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