Where we were riding on Mongolia there were not many creeks or waterholes. Once we stopped at a small, crystal clear creek but the other times the horses were watered from reticulated water somewhere.
This is a series of photos of one water stop we had. This farm was in the middle of a wide open plain with livestock scattered as far as the eye could see – across the plain and up every mountain slope. Water is a valuable resource which has always been given freely to all. If you are passing by, water and hospitality are given generously…. until now.
Our guide was far from impressed when the owner of this farm asked for payment for the water. This was the first time that Baggi had ever heard of this or encountered this. One of the small sign of the changing face of Mongolia.
We rode across vast kilometres of grasslands. In Australia this healthy landscape would have been overgrazed resulting in erosion. In Mongolia with nomadic, high density, seasonal grazing the pastures are diverse, have good ground cover and the landscape is stable. Areas closer to Ulaan Bataar show the erosional ache of higher, constant grazing.
It is so interesting to ride through the countryside and observe the way the steppes are used. Ownership of the steppes is by all. You can go out into the countryside and put up your ger anywhere. There seems to be an understanding about who can do what, when and how.
One of the best things about riding was in 6 days we did not go through one gate. We did not encounter any fences. The only time we had to deviate from our route was when we had to cross a railway line.
Vast open spaces of healthy grasslands and a wide blue sky – this is Mongolia.
As Katrina says, the best way to see the world is through the ears of a horse. At this moment I didn’t have much say in direction! My horse (and all the others) had smelt water which was about 2kms away so they were focused. They hadn’t drunk for nearly 24 hours.
Rounding up the horses
The local herdsman.
Me all rugged up in my del looking back over the steppe we had come across
The cattle were so healthy. Glossy coats and fat. Good condition for autumn going into a harsh Mongolian winter.
Horses at the trough
Our horses watering at the long concrete trough.
Our horses had to go in turns as the flow of the water was not sufficient for them all to water at the same time
A welcome from a local!
The Mongolian Steppe. We estimated we could see approximately 5,000 head of livestock in our 360 degree view. This was a mix of horses, cows, goats and sheep (no yaks or camels present). Each herd stays tightly together causing great grazing density. This reflects on the health of the grasslands. Away from the capital the grasslands are healthy. Right now they have been grazed down but will now be rested for months over the winter meaning century after century they are not being overgrazed. They result – resilient, vibrant grasslands and little sign of erosion.
A detail of one of the herds in the landscape. This was a mob of about 800 goats and sheep with groups of horses milling around. All the livestock graze together in mixed flocks/herds.
There are few enclosures on the steppes. This was quite a large one. The entire fence was made from straightened 44gallon drums. Nothing is wasted.
Where the drums used for the fencing are from. Here there is a huge mix of language on packaging – English, Mongolian, Chinese, Russian and Korean. I can now sort of guess the different scripts.
Sunbai (spelling uncertain?). One of our ever present, alert guides. I always felt better when he was around as he is a skilled avatar and helped me out many times with a word to my horse or a redirection or a visual clue. A true man of the Steppes.
- Baggi just before he readjusted all our girths and we set off again. His boots were the coolest ever.