Horsemen of the Steppes

Photo: M. Yamashita

The Mongolian horse – strong, swift and sure-footed, this native breed made the armies of Genghis Khan almost invincible as they conquered most of the known world from China and Central Asia to the borders of Poland in the 13th century.

The ancient art of horseback archery that gave the Mongols their formidable fighting reputation survives to this day in the form of archery competitions.
Natural partners. Said the great Venetian explorer, Marco Polo: “The horses are trained like obedient dogs. (Their riders) are great horseback archers, able to attack with swords while galloping on horses freely.”
Mongolian horses are trained not to be afraid of flying arrows or bow sounds and are ridden without reins.
Like father like son: 3-year old Adiya practices his horseback riding skills, with catch pole in hand to wrangle wild horses just like dad.

Mongolians often put children as young as two or three on foals and weanlings as they start to ‘break’ them in for work.  During the day in the summer when their mothers are milked, the foals are tied to a line where the toddlers play with them and socialise them.  Herded since birth, the horses are used to being handled so when it comes to being ridden, the process is very quick.

] From ancient times, female members of the Mongol tribe were also proficient archers who defended the tribe when the male fighters were away. In some cases, women could even be a part of the military and fight on the frontlines side by side with their male counterparts.
The look of pleasure when you are one with your horse, and the only sound you hear is the beating of your heart in tune with the galloping hooves of your horse.

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