Desk to Derby

One slow day at work, when I was in desperate need of adventure, I Googled Mongolia and horse racing. My plans were to scope out a trip to watch a Naadam festival while I got a nice buzz from sipping airag. But then I stumbled across the Mongol Derby - a Cannonball Run-style horse race where foreigners test their survival and horsemanship skills by riding 25+ semi-wild Mongolian horses 1,000 kilometres across the steppe.

I haven't ridden much since 2007. When I do ride it's a couple goes round the ring on one of the horses back home at the farm. I live in Toronto now and work in an office. But in that moment, those realities didn't matter. Flashbacks of former Pony Club glory clouded my judgment and I dashed off the application for the Derby, highlighting my stints as a working student in Europe and those few ribbons I won at little shows 20 years ago. From the comfort of my cubicle I convinced myself I could do this. A riding friend agreed. "How hard could it be to kick some ponies across Mongolia?"" This friend also tried to convince me to jump off a cliff in El Salvador and nearly ran me over with a surfboard in Costa Rica.

Here is my blog - a documented journey on turning my city soft, desk-dwelling self into a lean, mean, Mongolian horse riding machine. I've got about eight months. It's not going to be pretty. But I promise it will be entertaining. ~ Liz Brown

Cutting

  I decided to ride way outside my comfort zone for my last adventure in this year of exploring new disciplines. With a helmet, breeches and tall boots I headed to a cutting horse clinic taught by a cowboy from…

Driving

People who participate in carriage driving have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Because I love riding so much, I’ve always wondered how they could possibly prefer to be behind a horse instead of astride one. I…

Barrel Racing

The first thing Lee Jackson asked me when I asked him if I could take one of his barrel racers for a spin was “how good a rider are you?” As I quickly learned, barrel racing is fast, fun and…

Vaulting

Vaulting. It’s one of those equestrian sports I’d filed alongside jousting in the ‘weird and alternative’ category. I didn’t know anyone who vaulted and until a few months ago I’d assumed the only people who did it were part of…

Riding to Hounds

I’m the kind of person who loves to try new things. I think it’s in the space where I scare myself that I grow the most – particularly when it comes to horses. Last year, was all about pushing my…

Crossing the Finish Line

It’s been over two weeks since I crossed the Mongol Derby finish line and I’m just beginning to understand what happened to me. Twenty-eight Mongolian horses and 1,000 kilometres later I’m a much different person from the timid amateur rider…

In Ulaanbaatar

Excuse the brevity of the post as I’m typing it on my iPhone with a thumb and finger that don’t entirely work, but I’ve arrived in Mongolia! I landed on Wednesday and have been doing some sightseeing and fiddling with…

And I’m Off!!

Almost 11 months of preparation has brought me here – as you read this I’ll be in the air somewhere over Europe enroute to Beijing and then, after a 16-hour layover, on to Ulaanbaatar. It’s been another hectic week as…

The Final Countdown

The last two weeks have zoomed past and today I realize that in seven days I leave for Mongolia. It’s a bit surreal that my departure is so close now, having spent the last 11 months completely focused on this…

A Bad Break

While training for the Mongol Derby I’ve continuously tried to find the balance between pushing myself and keeping my body intact so I arrive at the start line as healthy and fit as can be. All that went to hell…

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