Live Vi­car­i­ously

Practical Horseman - - Editor's Note - San­dra Oliynyk

We have a real prob­lem,” says a bloke with sev­eral-daysold stub­ble on his face. The video with the omi­nous stac­cato mu­sic pans to two squat, rid­er­less ponies rac­ing to­ward the moun­tain­ous hori­zon with a lone fig­ure chas­ing them. “Sad­dle’s gone. Horse’s gone. What do we do?” con­tin­ues the chap to his equally grungy mate as they trudge af­ter the ponies.

This video has noth­ing to do with the sporthorses we cover in the pages of this mag­a­zine, but I’m cap­ti­vated. It’s about Mongolian horses, who, when they’re not buck­ing off their rid­ers, are fly­ing across the coun­try­side of grassy plains, rocks, rivers and salt pans in the Mon­gol Derby, an an­nual race that in­volves rid­ing 25 dif­fer­ent horses more than 600 miles in, of course, Mon­go­lia.

Why am I telling you about this? Be­cause Prac­ti­cal Horse­man’s 31-year-old As­so­ciate Edi­tor Jo­ce­lyn Pierce will be tak­ing part in this race next month.

When she first said she’d been ac­cepted into the race to­ward the end of last year, I didn’t re­ally get the mag­ni­tude. I lis­tened po­litely as she showed me a pre­sen­ta­tion and said the mag­a­zine would sup­port her. That night, I watched the afore­men­tioned video, part of the pre­sen­ta­tion.

Jeez, she’s go­ing to kill her­self, I thought as a pony leaped around with head between his knees, butt in the air at a check­point with the han­dlers be­ing tossed at the end of the lead rope. The video con­tin­ued: A woman says she lost her GPS the first hour of the seven to 10-day race and had to rely on the good­will of Mongolian nomads and maps to find her way. An­other woman, her voice crack­ing, adds, “We all have chaf­ing in places where you shouldn’t ever chafe.”

I’ve en­joyed liv­ing vi­car­i­ously through Jo­ce­lyn, an even­ter who has started her own home­bred filly as well as oth­ers, preps and you can, too. She is writ­ing about her ad­ven­tures in a weekly blog at Prac­ti­calHorse­manMag.com as well as in monthly re­ports in the mag­a­zine in Tips & Talk (page 54 this month). And once the race starts (Au­gust 8, my birth­day, which I’m tak­ing to be a good omen for her), we’ll fol­low her with the help of the Mon­gol Derby press and GPS track­ers. Then she’ll tell us all about her ad­ven­tures in her on­line re­ports and in an up­com­ing is­sue.

So join me in be­ing a cheer­leader for Jo­ce­lyn in this chance of a life­time. (You can email her at jpierce@aim­me­dia.com.) And so you have a com­plete sense of what it’s go­ing to take for Jo­ce­lyn to re­turn to us in­tact, watch the video I re­fer to here on the Mon­gol Derby’s YouTube chan­nel at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=PK3SpdIXvD4. There’s also a link to this video on her blog.

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