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Photographer's Note

The Mongolian horse (Mongolian Адуу, aduu: "horse") is the native horse breed of Mongolia. The breed is purported to be largely unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan. Nomads living in the traditional Mongol fashion still hold more than 3 million animals, which outnumber the country's human population. Despite their small size, they are horses, not ponies.

In Mongolia, the horses live outdoors all year (at 30°C in summer down to -40°C in winter) and search for food on their own. The mare's milk is processed into the national beverage Airag, and some animals are slaughtered for meat. Other than that, they serve as riding animals, both for the daily work of the nomads and in horse racing.

Mongolian horses are frugal, arduous, somewhat wily, and tread safely in rough terrain. In Mongolia, most animals are kept roaming free, and only a small number of riding animals get caught and tethered. Once the animal has become familiarized with carrying a rider, it will be calm, friendly, and very reliable.

The Mongolian saddle is very tall, with a wooden frame. It only allows marginal control of the gait. In most situations, the horse will decide the gait on its own, while the rider is occupied with other tasks (such as herding cattle). Very often, a Mongolian horse will choose to canter.


Child racing at the Naadam festivalRacing horses with a child in the saddle will run in full gallop over 35 km at a time. They are trained to keep running even after losing their riders. In such a case, they need to be stopped in the finish zone by aides waiting there especially for that purpose.

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Additional Photos by Murat Duzyol (muratd) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 34 W: 13 N: 154] (5054)
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