Art of the Journey

Rodeo - Mongolian style!

Richard Whillas

Posted on May 16 2014

“A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings.” - traditional Mongolian saying

Transport, livestock, food, survival, airag - there is no part of Mongolia culture and history that is not touched by horses so when Oggi suggested we head for a rodeo just outside of UB I was stoked. We took an unseen path off-road (think: driving across an empty, almost flat, open plain with no markers), went over the crest of a low hill and there it was - the rodeo. No stadiums or stables or permanent structures of any kind, just a collection of tents, parked cars and a whole lot of horses.

The opening ceremony was like a history lesson, amazing horsemanship and archery from horseback telling the story of the Mongolian people and Ghengis Khan - men, women and children equally as skilled at riding. You could feel the pride rippling the crowd as we all huddled on the sidelines. There were many events but one of the coolest involved the uurga - essentially a lasso at the end of a long pole - where competitors had to catch an wild horse and tame it without any bridles, saddles and whips within the shortest period of time. 

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