The Long Riders' Guild

Bonnie Folkins, Temuujin Zemuun and Batmonkh  Muntuush have completed their Long Ride in Mongolia

November 2010:  Bonnie Folkins has completed her second expedition by riding across Kazakhstan. She was accompanied by Bahat Ibrai, Nurbek Dalikhan and Alpamse Dalaikhan, the first Long Riders from that country. The international team faced severe challenges.

“It was a very tough ride, far more strenuous that Mongolia.  We were for the most part in isolation. Streams were ice cold and we could not make dung fires to heat water for fear of setting off grass fires. The biggest problems were temperature extremes, for example 32 degrees, then we were plunged into snow.

And the wind was off the scale. Still, we loved it and would like to finish the second half of Kazakhstan next year,”  Bonnie informed the Guild. 


October, 2009:  Bonnie, Temuujin and Batmonkh (known to his friends as Moo Moo) have finished their Long Ride.  Here is Bonnie's report.

This is the route we took to do our 1100 mile Long Ride in Mongolia (2009).  We tossed out two original plans in favour of the route you see here.

(Click on map to enlarge it)

The reasons we changed our plans were to ensure water and grass for the horses.  My Mongolian partner riders believed that the Khangai mountain range (Khangai Nuruu) would provide lush vegetation and plenty of streams and rivers.  They were wrong.  Not only did we not find resources, but there were few nomads or gers in sight (therefore little help or advice when we needed it).  From the few shepherds we encountered, we learned that many were moving to greener pastures in the north.  We were ourselves sometimes able to give suggestions to migrating herders because of the trail we had already left behind.

After Tsetserleg, we rode into high altitude mountains (almost 9000 ft.) with sweeping, barren plateaus.  Only one river provided the water sources we expected and only for a few days.  The final five hundred miles took us for days on end through steppe that was desolate from overgrazing.  That meant almost no grass was available and often the arid land was over-run with mouse colonies.  In Mongolia, steppe mice invade the underground making tunnels that are, for the most part, invisible to the eye.  It is a very different situation to the holes that Marmots and Ground Squirrels make that can be seen by the horse and rider.  The mouse burrows collapse with the weight of the horse and his leg sinks hard and fast into the ground for at least twelve inches.  If your animal is moving quickly, there is a risk of tripping and falling - even breaking a leg.  If you are chased by a predator, your risks of getting away effectively are hindered by the dangerous underground.

Our route was the following:  we left the Hangard Tourist Camp on Lake Khuvsgul and rode to Muron (in Khuvsgul Province) – then on to Bulgan in Bulgan province.  From there we rode to Arkhangai Province (Khashht Village) and to Ovorkhangai Province (Kharkhorin city), then back up through another corner of Arkhangai Province to Tsetserleg city.   Our problems started in Bayanhongor Province through places like Jargalant, Zag and Huree Maral (places I called Hell!)  I
strongly recommend that Long Riders not follow the latter part of this route.  It will put your horses at great risk.

In the north-eastern part of Govi Altai Province we passed through the towns of Delger and Guulin, then on to the southern parts of Zavkhan Province to Shiluustei and Tsagaanchuluut.  Back in Govi Altai (Province) again we got lost twice in the Gobi Desert (frightening) before reaching Altai City, where we were obliged to buy hay to accommodate the horses because the desert steppe was so barren.  We carried the hay with us all the way from Altai City to our final destination, the ovoo of Black Horse Mountain. 

During these travels through areas of overgrazing, pale yellow grass that looked like straw to my eyes, was what we were able to offer the horses - when we were able to find it.  We were always on the lookout for it.

Click here to read about the danger of wolves:

Bonnie has also highlighted the fact that some parts of Central Asia were used as nuclear testing sites, many of which should be avoided by Long Riders, even though twenty years have elapsed.   So, would-be Long Riders, do your homework!

Click on any picture to enlarge.

Bonnie with Jacob

Moo Moo riding Red

Timuujin on Tuss

"It is the lineup following Temuujin.  Peter - the dog on the picture - was the dog that stayed with us the longest.  He would trot in unison - and the poor little guy would breathe in all that dust being kicked up but he wanted his place !"

In December 2008 this interesting email arrived at the LRG HQ:

My friends and I are planning a ride from Harazargiin (Black Horse Mountain) near Olonbulag (a hamlet - the name of which means Many Rivers). Khaliuun District, Govi-Altai Province, Mongolia

We plan to have a backup vehicle, (a Russian UAZ Purgon), for tents and provisions.  It will be driven by our Kazakh friend Bahat who lives in Olgii in Western Mongolia.  He will pick up Batmonkh Muntuush (known as Moo Moo) in Altay – and drive him to Uaanbaatar where Temuujin and I be waiting. Then we will carry on to Deed Tsagaan Nuur (Top White Lake) in Khuvsgul Province.  Our Long Ride will start from there.

We will each have one horse and there will be one back-up horse.

We plan to purchase a breed called the Darkhad Valley White Horse, a little larger and maybe a little stronger than the typical Mongolian horse. 

They will be purchased from a breeder called Jargal who lives near a village called Renchinlhumbe at Deed Tsagaan Nuur.  This is in Khuvsgul Province in north-central Mongolia.

Bahat, Temuujin and Moo Moo

Temuujin and Moo Moo

Temuujin's family

We wish you the best of luck, Bonnie, Temuujin and Moo Moo!

Bonnie has now made another journey in Kazakhstan.

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