Those familiar with the Mongol Derby— known as the longest and toughest horse race on the planet—will be excited to hear that the Derby’s race organizers have taken it one step further with the launch a new world series of equine adventure races under the organization the “Equestrianists.”
The Mongol Derby is 600-mile, multi-horse adventure race in which riders swap their tired horses for fresh ones roughly every 25 miles. Based on Chinngis Khan’s postal route, which connected the largest contiguous land empire in history, the race is rooted in Mongolian history and culture. Riders compete on native horses, stay with Mongolian families and share their food and vodka.
Since 2009, riders have vied for a spot in the Derby to test their horsemanship, survival skills and character. And now the Equestrianists will be offering more long-distance multi-horse adventure races around the globe. In March of 2020, (literally right before the pandemic hit) a handful of brave riders completed the inaugural Gaucho Derby in Patagonia, a roughly 300-mile race which challenged riders’ navigation and survival skills across difficult terrain.
With the inaugural Gaucho Derby in the rearview, the Equestrianists haven’t wasted any time and are beginning reconnaissance for a race in North America, as well as exploring more locations around the world to add to the adventure series.
“Each race is designed from the ground up around the horses and landscape of the region we enter, explained Tom Morgan, founder of the Adventurists and Equestrianists. “The parts that remain constant are the basic premise of a multi-horse race and our stringent welfare protocols. That allows us to travel long distances without putting strain on the animals while giving the riders a total hiding.”
As a bonus, the Equestrianists also partner with local NGOs who work with the communities that the adventures rely on. For example, the official nonprofit of the Mongol Derby, Steppe and Hoof, helps Mongolian herders and their animals.
“Climate change, urbanization, and lack of central government policy are contributing to the rapid disappearance of one of the world's last traditional equine nomadic lifestyles,” explained founder Shatra Galbadrah. “By supporting these horse herders through our programs, the organization is fighting to preserve the unique culture and traditions found only here in Mongolia.”
Steppe and Hoff provides herders with first-aid kits and onsite medical assistance. This is important as most herders live in remote areas. The organization also provides education to herders about modern tools and technologies they can have access to from their team of international veterinarians to improve the health and welfare of their animals.