The sun was shining. It was a blue bird day, with not a cloud in the sky. Mongolia was really living up to her name as the country of blue skies. Teddi, my trusty little chestnut Mongolian pony and I, were happily off on another days riding adventure. We happily trotted past the Mongolian Army post, with a friendly wave and a smile to the soldiers and their ponies.
The rest of our group was happily plodding alongside, idly chatting to one another. Our day had started as any other. Breakfast, pack up camp and prepare for a night away so packing the absolute bare necessities into two teeny tiny saddle bags. We were riding through a river laced valley along the border of Western Mongolia and China. We had spent an entire day riding over, across and down mountains to get to our previous nights camp spot. The riding had been challenging for all riders as we had tried to avoid any potential issues with the army post. Seemingly there was some interesting political issue brewing away between the Mongolians and Kazakhs. Horses and riders were all looking forward to an afternoon in the sun and having some much needed rest time.
As we approached a fast flowing river Teddi and I naturally took the lead behind our wranglers. Following their lead over the past week we had crossed numerous rivers, squatted away mosquito’s in swamps and walk down slippery grassy slopes. Neither Teddi or I had any concerns about such a small river crossing. I was enthralled by the beauty surrounding us in the valley. Entirely mesmerised. And not paying attention. Tall green trees, long green grass softly swaying in the morning’s breeze and an abundance of birds and ground squirrels. I remember thinking about how much I loved ground squirrels when I felt the cold.
Frozen snow river water cold was wrapping itself around my foot. Creeping up my ankle and fastly towards my underwear. As I snapped out of my day dream I felt Teddi falling up and back towards me. His chestnut mane flowing in the wrong direction. The cold was rising up past my ankle and fastly making it’s way up toward my knee. Instincts and years of trail riding kicked in and I threw myself forward onto Teddi’s neck.
Today was not the day that I was going to spend 6 hours in the saddle with wet underwear.
As I pushed myself and Teddi forward off the rock we had slipped over I heard a crack. An ankle breaking, no more riding through the Mongolian mountains, crack. Teddi scrambled forward and launched us out of the river. With a pain searing up from my ankle I didn’t bother pulling Teddi up. As soon as we were safely on dry land, I vaulted off his back onto my feet in a fit of gymnastic inspiration. I checked Teddi’s legs to make sure he was ok, whilst hoping around on one ankle and testing to see if my ankle was indeed broken. I looked up to see three of our Kazakh wranglers, white as ghosts watching me as our group leader Iain raced across the river towards me. After a quick conversation we worked out that there was no broken bones and that ice cold river water and my boots were acting as a sufficient compress.
“Did anyone get that on camera” I asked curiously.Unfortunately for me no one film ed the most exciting horse back incident of my entire trip across the Altai Mountains, Mongolia. As I was helped by Eurulan, wrangler and owner of Teddi, back into the saddle I noticed a rather bent and battered stirrup iron.
The remainder of the day saw us riding through heavy thick forest. We endured four more terrifying river crossings. Each one complete with a redunking of cold wet feet at every crossing, each one mildly petrifying Teddi and I. Due to the unseasonal snows before my trip the rivers in the area were in a mild, bone chilling flood.
In the end we stopped in a small open space along an impassable river and made camp for the night.
Between dunking my fat, swollen foot in the river and playing cards we spent the afternoon watching the horses rest and relax.
Zavkhan Trekking were amazing to travel with. I’d suggest hoping in the saddle and booking one of their exclusive tours right now.
Part of this article was entered in the Misadventures completion. Hurrah it won! A huge thank you to the ladies at Misadventures and RedFox NA for our amazing down jacket.
If you have any questions or queries on Mongolia let me know in the comments below.
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Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
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