The Gobi Gallop 2019
Through the Eyes of Sandra Coombe - Canada
The Gobi Gallop 2019
As Described by Martin Ruppert - Belgium
The Gobi Gallop was not my first foray into the world of Equine Fundraising, nor my first exposure to Endurance Riding or Wilderness/Backcountry Camping -yet somehow the experience defies description and defines a whole other level of personal experience. Each member of the carefully curated group comes with their own mission or objective, yet as you ride, and live and laugh and cry -whyever you came seems moot. You become the Gobi Gallop, you are not on it or in it - you are it. The beauty of the ever-changing landscape draws you into a different world and at times you feel like the Goddess Warrior in a prehistoric land.
Your so-called 'endurance' is juxtaposed against the lives of those we ride for - families and children who eke out an existence from scavenging in the dump - yet those same children find joy in pipe cleaners and singing you a song. I am reminded that I endure nothing.
At the end, the Gophers have claimed just four without serious injury. The terrain is not without its hazards - the landscape demands your vigilance. At the end of the day you are tired, not so much from the distance travelled but for the fact that you have ridden every step. Your reward is a stretch of 'safe' ground, where you Gallop with total abandon, on a horse that knows his job. The eyes feast on Big Sky Mongolia, where storms, sunshine and rainbows play with the clouds.
Day 10, we know it's coming, how many more hills must we climb? We have a soft entry into the bustle of Ulaanbaatar, softened by the welcome warmth of Sara's Gur Camp. We toast and hug and play in the river. We emerge from the steppe stronger, Warrior Goddesses and Gods in a modern land. Despite our comparably tawdry attire and uneasily worn 'hair and make-up' we 'own' the Gobi Gala. We celebrate into the wee hours and are rewarded by a most welcome room at the Grand Tuschin hotel.
And then it is over, but mother Mongolia has the last laugh. Severe winds delay flights for days. Work, Families and commitments must wait, and in the waiting, I reflect. What a blessing to have chosen and been chosen to be part of this experience. To meet these beautiful people, to share their cultures, to know this herd.
The Gobi Gallop - Just do it!
Michele Thornton on why The Gobi Gallop's tagline is
"Celebrating the Spirit of the Mongolian Horse"
I totally agree with the superlatives that have already been used to describe the Gobi Gallop so I won't repeat them.
However, for me, it was the horses that totally stole the show.. And my heart.
Their intelligence, character, stamina, strength, tenacity, generosity, heart and spirit was humbling.
That they willingly carried endurance rookies, such as myself, so effortlessly across 700 kms of harsh and continually changing terrain is an extraordinary testimony to their courage.
Each morning they stood like rocks whilst we mounted, then fidgeted with anticipation and the desire to get cracking on the next 70 plus kms of our adventure.
At each rest stop they defied their natural herd pecking order instincts to rest peacefully as a group, resting heads across necks in such a gentle way it brought tears to my eyes..... Then at night, when finally free of their tack, herd hierarchy was noisily reestablished before they quietly grazed their way through the night.
Each horse was an integral part of the herd yet had enough confidence and self esteem to willingly work on the fringes of the group whilst their riders wanted some time to think or during individual tack check halts. There was no separation anxiety as the horses knew they were ultimately in control yet were generous enough to comply to our wishes.
Watching the free herd weave their way through the ridden horses was a mesmerising highlight and the effortless way they covered the miles was a unique example of true fitness and of being 'fit for purpose'.
I adore and admire their independent spirit. I love the way that after 700kms they still spook if you take liberties. That their individual quirks and habits remain, not just to the end of our ride.. But to the end of their lives, is wonderful.
These are not horses that have had their spitits broken by man and work. These are horses whose spirits and hearts have been embraced and revered by their handlers... . . and those handlers are the Mongolian horsemen who guided us safely across some of the harshest riding terrain in the world....
It is now easy to see how the Mongolian horse conquered over 20 %of the World.. ❤️
An experience so beautiful
It makes that you want to go back there every moment of the day in memories within yourself or by talking about it to others
All pieces of the puzzle fitted so nicely. Seeing the project for the children so well on the way spending a day there to play with them.
Having Julie as guide she is so full of energy so much joy as is her side kick Ryan.
The horses so strong and the evident knowledge of Bagi and his crew taking care of them riding 770 km and not one horse having a problem.
We were outstanding lucky that from day one and even before that our group of riders became friends sharing joy and pain, talking without hesitance about expierences and feelings
I definately come back to Mongolia, to Julie, to Bagi his crew his horses
A once in a lifetime experience that will be repeated
Martin Ruppert on "Rocket" racking up mileage on his record breaking 408 km ride in the Mongolian saddle.
The Poetic Look
by Logue Williams
Riding the Gobi Gallop is like winning an Academy Award. You stand at the podium with your acceptance speech all prepared. You begin with recognizing the reason you are there....the precious children of the dump. Then you move on to the amazing herdsmen and guides, the fabulous horses, the tireless Julie Veloo, your equally amazing riding companions, the crew members who met you in the Yellow Bus each evening with your tent set up, your bags ready to be grabbed, the table and chairs ready to accept your tired bodies, your plastic cup filled with delicious adult libations....then you begin to gush about the tremendous views, the sure-footedness of your steed for the day, the majesty of the hundreds of horse herds headed up by a lone stallion...you then marvel at how you cantered non-stop for 15 kilometers, your horse never missing a beat, you laugh when you think of the daily joke by the herdsmen who pretend to grunt heavily when they assist you in mounting your horse for the day....you try to end your speech....the music begins playing softly, steadily rising in volume....you manage to add a few more rambling sentences about thousands of marmot holes, volcanic rocks, steep mountain climbs, a sand storm that you took unaware, the night that you slept through an entire thunderstorm, the hot springs, the trips to the monasteries, the afternoon that you got to help herd the horses, the night of Kate Harkness's 30th birthday when 5 year old Dalma recited poetry, her head lifted in an elegant pose, and you got chill-bumps when you listened to the melodic and soulful sounds of your guides and herdsmen, who are now your friends, sing in complete harmony a song of respect for mothers. The Academy Award host attempts to wrestle the microphone from your hands...hands that held reins to nine horses nearly 800 kilometers, hands that brushed sweat from your brow, hands that pointed out marvels to your fellow riders....you could go on and on. But you stop and you bow to your audience. Leave them wanting more, you think. Leave them wanting more.
Logue Williams (left) - American Cowgirl extraordinaire chatting with Julie Veloo - Gobi Gallop Chief as they ride their matchy matchy horses with the matchy match Mongolian saddles! Please note - mostly people do NOT ride in Mongolian saddles..only, it seems, in this article.
Sue Smith - 67 on her way to becoming the oldest woman to finish the Gobi Gallop as she rides through a field of wildflowers
The whole crew taking on the wild!
Check out the slideshow below for more photos from GG2019!
Riding the Gobi Gallop 2017 - From Above
Thanks to Bree Von Bradsky for this amazing look at the beauty of Mongolia
and the nature of the Gobi Gallop
From the saddle.....
A true, hands-on look at what it means to ride the Gobi Gallop. Thanks to Alix Crittenden for this wonderful video.
It's about heart. And endurance. And valiant horses, wonderful Mongolian experiences, unforgettable friendships, personal challenge AND one of the most beautiful, challenging and epic horseback riding routes in the world.
It's also the longest charity horseback ride on the planet: ten days and, seven hundred kilometres across Mongolia where participants will have the chance to experience some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. Every step will help the Children of the Peak Sanctuary as a full fifty percent of each rider’s entrance fee goes directly to help the three to five year olds at this kindergarten, who would otherwise be scavenging on the garbage dump or left behind, often alone in a ger
(a traditional Mongolian nomadic felt tent) and sometimes without food or heat. To make the ride that much more special, we cap the attendance at 10. Yes, you read that right - only 10 lucky participants will be accepted for this ride.
We will be leaving from Ulaanbaatar on June 5th and returning to a glittering Gala Event and charity Auction at one of the best hotels in Ulaanbaatar to welcome back the intrepid riders on the evening June 20th. Transport to and from Ulaanbaatar will be included in the final price of the ride. The ride will entail 10 days of riding and 1 or 2 days of resting depending on the final route chosen - final details will be available by Mid- September.
This ride is truly one of a kind and of an intensity not often seen in commercially available horse treks.You simply can’t get this sort of opportunity anywhere else. It will give participants a chance to experience one of the last surviving nomadic horse cultures from the back of their very own Mongolian horse. In the words of one recent participant , "To see the hardworking partnership between horse and rider that developed from ancient times to present day was inspiring. Hearing the guides and staff share and sing at night around the campfire brought the ancestral spirit of “Mongolia” alive for me. Cantering alongside some of the most skilled horsemen in the world was exhilarating; their intuitive knowledge and watchful eye made me feel confident and secure."
Baagii, the co-owner of and head guide out at Horse Trek Mongolia, creates a new trek across his wonderful country for the Gobi Gallop every year. Each trek is long and challenging - but not so difficult that ordinary riders with determination can’t cope. Gobi Gallop 2020 will be no exception. The secret to success on this ride? Just love riding, be comfortable at a canter, and have an adventurous spirit! A really adventurous spirit! As you can imagine, 700 kilometres will take you across all sorts of terrain and you will be riding across miles of desert landscape, across rivers, up and down steep slopes, through the woods and, of course, across miles of open steppe where sometimes you will have the joy of gopher, marmot and fox holes and, of course, bog!! Oh, and you will be riding on semi wild Mongolia horses who are very forward moving and much spookier than you are used to!
It is a ride that asks you to get up every morning to the serene quiet of an unspoiled wilderness, enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast, then, on your Mongolian mount, ride for approximately eight hours . At the end of each day, with your wonderful new friends, you gather together and relive the amazing sights and experiences of the day.
This adventure through wildest Mongolia may be subject to unavoidable and unpredictable changes. This may include changes to the route and / or the length of riding per day. While we try to keep the ride to about 8 hours / 70 kilometres a day, you may expect that there will be some LONG days ( longest day on record is 14 hours - 110 kilometres in the saddle!) Such is the nature of this ride and this country. However, expect to be well settled in camp each night in time to see the spectacular dome of glittering stars which will decorate the night sky – Mongolian style and enjoy a lovely freshly cooked meal. The ride comes complete with car support, cook and crew to set up and take down your tent. If a rider is ill or fatigues, they are able (and encouraged!) to take a break in the vehicle. We also bring along a Doctor and have full medical support from SOS Medica International.
Due to the difficult nature of this ride it is imperative that riders carry insurance which will cover air lift out of Mongolia should serious injuries happen. We will be verifying insurance information prior to participants leaving on horseback
Just a peek at a few of the 600 children our intrepid riders will be helping. Come out and join in...it's going to be EPIC!