Global Condemnation for Morgan's Mongol Derby
The Long Riders' Guild was initially contacted by Tom Morgan's company, the Adventurists, on 28th November, 2008 in regards to his plan to run a 1,000 kilometer horse race across Mongolia. Not only did the Guild offer the equestrian expertise of its Members, as well as the hand of friendship, our organization also warned the company that the poorly-planned event would become a lightning-rod of concern. The Adventurists did not accept the Guild's offers of assistance, nor heed our warning.
Since then, as predicted, the proposed race has created an equestrian fire-storm of protest, with editors, endurance racers, Long Riders and even mainstream explorers, all joining their voices in an unprecedented condemnation of this dubious event. Thousands of acts of individual equestrian patriotism have resulted in horse-lovers from twenty-six countries signing the petition protesting against the race, a Vet Net advisor denouncing it as being "in total disregard to the welfare of the horses," and the Barefoot saddle company withdrawing its support.
Regardless, Morgan's American charity partner, Mercy Corps not only maintains their partnership, they continue to ignore their own statement sent to irate donors who have withdrawn their financial contributions. "...if at any point Mercy Corps is not satisfied with the measures in place to ensure their (horses) welfare, we would not continue to support this trek," Mercy Corps spokeswoman, Geri Manzano said.
What needs to be fully understood is that we are not discussing common tourists.
Traditional travellers go to a country in order to interact with the people, sample the food and experience the culture. This is an experience that is customarily a slow learning process. That is not what Morgan and his race contestants are doing. They will use every possible means to rush through Mongolia, highlight any danger, mock the cuisine, and make themselves look like heroes at the expense of the land, its people and its horses.
Nor should we be persuaded that Morgan and Mercy Corps, are motivated by altruistic motives. The Adventurists will receive more than $130,000 in fees from the contestants. Likewise, the Mercy Corps charity will receive a minimum of $50,000. But when asked how much the herders, who are risking their eight hundred horses, would be getting, the evasive answer was "a fair amount." In a scene reminiscent of buying Manhattan from the Indians for $26 in beads, while Morgan and Mercy Corps get rich, na´ve Mongolians are being enticed into selling their sacred equestrian heritage for pennies.
Thus, no amount of last-minute window-dressing by the Adventurists and Mercy Corps can disguise the fact that this is an act of equestrian colonialism perpetrated by cultural predators. This race represents a new type of equestrian cancer, one in which arrogance, wealth, racism and social privilege come together for a mounted holiday in an exotic land.
Meanwhile, the world's scorn for Morgan's master plan can be seen in some of the comments submitted to the international petition.
Jack, Canada: All horse-related activities in Mongolia will be damaged by this stunt. Why doesn't he stick to filling Mongolia with Europe's old clunkers instead?
Anne, Wales: Very glad to help stop this terror.
Stan, USA: This is brutal and uncalled-for.
Robert, Gibraltar: If 25 idiots want to cross Mongolia, then take a 4x4 truck; why is it that there are still people who think that animals have no purpose but to provide entertainment for them no matter what?
Abdul, Sweden: Shame on the culprits and those who refuse to act.
Gabrielle, Belgium: Adventure should never prevail over animal welfare and long-distance riding should not be turned into a contest built upon injury and loss of life.
Jean, UK: Utterly ghastly. How can people be so thoughtless and cruel?
Thomas, USA: Money ruins everything.
Carol, Canada: I feel very strongly about getting this profit-mongering idiot's activities exposed and stopped.
Alison, Scotland: This event is a disgrace to 21st century equine sport.
Neale, Australia: Cruelty such as this should be illegal.
Grit, Denmark: What monster has got this arrangement going?
Ranald, South Africa: When money and egos clash with horses, horses always lose.
Raven, USA: This is the most inhumane thing I have ever heard of. Shame on you!
Eduard, Peru: I suggest the humans do it on foot.
Lynne, USA: Sheer lunacy and certainly testosterone-driven; a total violation of man's stewardship of the animals. Let's ride the Adventurists across Mongolia instead.
Dori, USA: Shame on Mercy Corps. I'll make sure never to send them a single penny.
Harry, USA: This race should be outlawed and the promoters cast out of all horse-related projects.
Vera, Romania: Whoever takes part in this event shows a complete disregard for the life of the horses that are used in it; thus forfeiting their right to be called a horse person.
Tami, USA: This is a travesty for the poor innocent horses; there should be some form of international law prohibiting this form of animal cruelty. The contestants get to choose their idiotic level of risk, the poor Mongolian horses do not.
Christine, USA: I am an endurance rider and this race is not "endurance" - it is torture to horses.
Hans-Juergen, Switzerland: This race is nothing but a merchandised killing of friends.
Charlotte, USA: Unbelievable! Have we reverted to the Stone Age?
Odette, USA: As a veterinarian, I am appalled at the greed and cold-heartedness of the organizers and participants of the race.
Diane, Canada: Shame on Tom Morgan for exploiting these wonderful animals.
Katrina, UK: The Mongolian government should stop this event by refusing to grant visas.
Jane, Canada: I'm absolutely disgusted that Mercy Corps would be involved in this.
Janice, USA: When will Europeans stop exploiting Asians?
Talitha, USA: As a veterinarian, I find this race appalling.
Dyane, Australia: Shameful!
Angela, Australia: Unethical!
Serena, Australia: Unbelievable!
Fran, USA: Let the tourists suffer; it's their choice. But the horses deserve protection from these cruel money-hungry fools.
Lois, USA: This sounds like the biggest case of animal cruelty in the world.
Graeme, Scotland: As a veterinarian involved in endurance, I feel this is a blatant disregard for the welfare of the horse.
Jodi, New Zealand: The very thought of this race sickens me.
Michelle, Canada: This race is a disgusting exploitation of a country in poverty, and its animals, by some jerk trying to make a buck.
Stephen, Taiwan: This is an outrageous affair of a company more interested in their cheque-book than common sense.
Naomi, UK: I am ashamed that a British company has organised this ill-conceived and idiotic event to indulge bored, rich exhibitionists.
In conclusion, The Long Riders' Guild urges you to share your concerns with Tom Morgan and Mercy Corps by either emailing or telephoning them with your views.
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent events manager at the Adventurists
firstname.lastname@example.org - + 44-(0)1779-541-515
Geri Manzano - Mercy Corps Donor Relations Representative
+1-800-292-3355, ext. 250 - email@example.com