Lorie Duff of Lorie Duff Horsemanship has been invited to represent Team Canada for The Gobi Desert Cup in Mongolia August 22-31. Born and raised in Newfoundland, Duff is a professional horsemanship coach and trainer now based at Liberty Lane Farm in Ottawa, Ontario.

Duff was the first western performer at the RCMP sunset ceremonies in Ottawa to showcase Liberty Horsemanship. She has been a featured demonstrator at the Can-Am Horse Expo; a guest performer at the Calgary Stampede; and recipient of the NEA Showmanship and NEA Sportsmanship Award.

Internationally-recognized for her liberty work with horses, Duff is one of a few select riders chosen to participate in The Gobi Desert Cup and will be representing Team Canada in the 480 km challenge across Mongolia.

Duff says, “I am looking forward to the next steps of showcasing my horsemanship while honoring the Mongolian culture, their amazing people, land and horses!”

The Gobi Desert Cup accepts no more than 20 riders from all over the world, from all equestrian disciplines including: endurance, show jumping, trail, and more.

The Gobi Desert Cup

Beginning outside Ulaanbaatar, The Gobi Desert Cup is a 480-kilometre, six-day race across Mongolia. Photo ©The Gobi Desert Cup

Beginning outside Ulaanbaatar, The Gobi Desert Cup is a 480-kilometre, six-day race across Mongolia. Photo ©The Gobi Desert Cup

Co-founded in 2017 by FEI 3* Endurance Rider, Camille Champagne and leading-Mongolian veterinarian Naranbataar Adiya, The Gobi Desert Cup is a 480 kilometre multi-stage endurance race through the Gobi Desert, riding Mongolian horses everyday for six days over 80 kilometres. This international challenge is the only one of its kind to combine endurance while positively supporting Mongolian culture and their horses.

“You may have what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got,” said Champagne.

Mongolian horses are semi-wild and live free among the steppe, rounded up each day by the herders. These horses have never known groundwork and Lorie will be bringing a unique perspective to the challenge, while also observing the natural behaviors of undomesticated horses.

The Gobi Desert Cup will take place August 22-31, 2018. Beginning outside the capital of Ulaanbaatar, riders receive two days of training regarding rules, vetting practices, and familiarizing themselves with the Mongolian horse. Following those two days riders will travel an average of 80 km per day in a country which varies in temperature from +27°C during the day to +15°C at night. The challenge encompasses 10 days overall immersed in this culture rich in equine history.

During the challenge each horse is vetted by FEI-qualified veterinarians and additional points are awarded for good horsemanship. Safety for horse and rider is the biggest concern.

Each evening there will be a briefing to discuss the day’s experiences and discuss the safety procedures. Nomads will share with riders and officials the local fare such as fermented mare’s milk or fermented camel’s milk while they relax and unwind from the long day in the saddle.

Racing for a Cause

Many riders ride for the adventure, to test their horsemanship, and to raise funds or awareness for a cause. Duff will be pledging her ride to the CHEO Foundation on behalf of her daughter.

“My daughter Callie, was diagnosed late last year with a skin disease, and we have been actively working with CHEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, based here In Ottawa and its been overwhelming to have such great support and help from everyone at CHEO…For every kilometre I race, I will be taking pledges that will go towards The CHEO Foundation Urgent Care Fund. I’m so thrilled to partner with the CHEO Foundation for this amazing adventure. It brings a deeper meaning to my race, allows me to support CHEO and demonstrate the gratitude for the work they do.”

The Gobi Desert Cup is both a physical challenge as well as mental. Often riders find that they have more to give than they initially expected, or become disappointed at their lack of progress. Riding for a cause, like  Duff, will provide incentive and passion to propel her toward that finish line.

Duff is accepting both pledges to the CHEO Foundation and sponsorship to help pay the costs of this challenge on her website at Lorie Duff Horsemanship.

Anyone interested in participating can apply at gobidesertcup.com. Prospective riders are subject to an interview process, and if accepted, must pay a fee of $7,000 USD. There are individual participants and some ride in teams.