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 email@example.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.