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A Riding Weekend with Australian Olympian Chris Burton

 Copper Meadows in Ramona, California, where it was sunny and temperate, was the place to be last weekend for the Chris Burton clinic. 

Clinician Chris "Burto" Burton, 36, is a world class eventer, Australian Olympian and smasher of World Records for 3-day scores. His three and four star record speaks for itself, and his solid website includes videos of many of his impressive rides and finishes. 

The two-day clinic placed a big emphasis on "rideability" of all horses, with a bit more specific focus on event horses. Other big themes included how to not overuse your hands and "how to be fast with out being fast."

Fleeceworks riders present included Tamie Smith of Next Level Eventing; Taren Hoffos, of Copper Meadows; and the McFall family of Taylor, Earl and Jen McFall from DragonFire Farm

According to rider Taren Hoffos, "Chris emphasized basic skills on the flat, working with us on control and rideability, and really built on that during the second jumping day of the clinic through tough exercises. There were plenty of lengthening and shortening questions, as well as turning lines to jumps that demanded accuracy. He was positive and patient with horses and riders, often getting on a horse to feel the issue and then relaying back to the rider ways to fix a problem. He left us with good ideas for homework! I will absolutely ride with him again if/when he’s back in California, and would encourage riders at any level to clinic with him."

Jenn McFall noted, "We loved him! He's a true horseman who gives so much consideration to what approach benefits the horse and helps them to understand. And he has a great sense of humor! We hope he comes back to California."

The horses looked the part of serious eventing athletes, all wearing a combination of Fleeceworks half pads with square pads under saddle. Jenn McFall said, "I use the FXK sheepskin half pad. It's great for clinics because it fits multiple horses of different shapes--no worries about changing pads between rides--I can just focus on the ride when I know my horse is comfortable."

(Below) The power couple Earl and Jenn McFall of DragonFire Farm were all smiles at the Chris Burton clinic.

(Below) Rory (Fleeceworks Royal) performed well with Tamie Smith aboard, but paused when Chris decided to hop on. We weren't sure if she was confused, curious or nervous! Chris Burton jumped her around and was interested in learning more about her breeding.

 

 

Tamie Smith's thoughts summed up what many saw as the clinic's ultimate takeaways: "Chris really emphasized 'ride-ability,' and not over using your hand at the jumps. And his "fast without being fast" ideas were really interesting!"

 

  • Elizabeth Howell

Wylie vs. The Mongol Derby, Powered by Fleeceworks, Day 9: Leslie Completes!

From Eventing Nation, By  on  - 1,749 views

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

To be held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for weekly updates on Leslie’s ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

From left: Leslie Wylie, 35, Tennessee, USA; Taylor Dolak, 25, Colorado, USA; Lucy Taylor, 22, NSW, UK / Australia; Amanda Charlton Herbert, 26, Maine, USA; James Lester, 22, Perth, Australia. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

It’s been an epic nine-day journey for our Leslie Wylie across the wild steppe of Mongolia — and after more than a week of frantic dot-watching on our end and some truly legendary riding on Leslie’s end, she crossed the finish line today at 6:05 p.m. local time, 6:05 a.m. EST. And yes, her now-famous grin was ear-to-ear.

Day 9 Recap

The ninth day of racing saw a big part of the field cross over the finish line, many carrying on the rising Derby tradition of crossing the line in unison with traveling partners and fellow Derbyists. After all — to borrow the phrase from the sport of endurance riding — to finish is to win, and we imagine it’s impossible not to feel some intense camaraderie with your fellow riders after enduring a thousand kilometers on the backs of some pretty wild horses.

We’ll let the photos speak for themselves on Day 9.

Ceri Putnam (30, UK) and Sally Toye (55, UK). Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

Bobbie Friend (27, Australia), Emma Manthorpe (30, Australia) and Charlotte Wills (36, UK). Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

Rachel Land (38, US) and Margaret Summers (60, US). Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

Paul Richards (58, UK) and Cy Lloyd-Jones (41, UK). Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

Not pictured but also crossing the finish today were Suzanna Holmquist of Sweden, Victoria Twelves of the UK, Louisa Ball of UK and Liv Wood of Canada. Liv retired due to injuries from a fall earlier in the week but was medically cleared to ride the last few legs today for the adventure, and we’re glad she was able to ride across the finish!

The rest of the field is projected to finish tomorrow on Day 10.

Raise a glass to Leslie Wylie!

We’re so proud of Leslie for accomplishing the Mongol Derby, battling truly adversarial conditions and challenges along the way. She lost her entire kit on Day 3, including her stirrups, but kept smiling and rode right into Derby history by completing her next 40 kilometer leg without any stirrups at all. She got bucked off a wild Mongolian horse on Day 4 and got right back on to complete her next leg.

Her fellow riders, no doubt bolstered themselves by Leslie’s indomitable spirit, helped her along the trail with a donated kit stuffed into a spare sock, and the generous Mongolian people took care of her as well.

Throughout the entire journey, Leslie just kept smiling. If we know Leslie, she awoke every morning looking ahead to the adventure the day would bring her, no matter how wild it might be. We can’t wait until she’s back to share her stories!

Most of us will likely never contest the Mongol Derby. Crossing hundreds of miles on semi-feral horses at the mercy of the elements is certainly not in everyone’s adventure playbook, and that’s OK. While this race is in the books for Leslie and for all of us at EN who were along for the ride, we hope Leslie’s journey will continue to inspire you for a very long time. It certainly will for us.

Go Leslie. Go Eventing.

  • Arthur Bobinski

Wylie vs. The Mongol Derby, Powered by Fleeceworks, Day 8: Horsing Around

From Eventing Nation, By  on  - 1,679 views

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

To be held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for weekly updates from Leslie ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

What it feels like to finish! MP RHW GC BW JW complete on Day 8. Leslie is on track to complete tomorrow! Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

The first finishers completed the 2017 Mongol Derby yesterday (in record-setting time!) and more followed suit today with much celebration. Our Leslie Wylie’s “traveling group” is projected to finish tomorrow, one day early, with just three legs left in the 1,000 kilometer journey.

As the sun sets on Day 8 on the steppe, let’s just remember that not only have this lot been riding hard for a full week and then some, they’ve also been dealing with harsh weather conditions, staying in gers hosted by nomadic herdsmen and eating food provided by their gracious hosts. We can only imagine on Day 8 how inviting this lovely lake at the finish line must be:

 

What to do with your sweaty pony post Derby? It's not a bloody holiday camp people! GK Hustlerrr WC Dumpling pretend otherwise

Read on for the day’s full report.

Day 8 Recap

As Ed Fernon, Barry Armitage and Jakkie Mellet — the top three finishers from yesterday — lounged around victory camp, perhaps sleeping off the celebratory vodka they had knocked back the night prior, the race continued across the steppe for the rest of the field.

Warren Sutton and Will Comiskey (aka “Dingo”) had only the last leg to finish after their overnight at Urtuu 27, and they rolled across the finish line together in what seems to be becoming a new Mongol Derby tradition, taking the tied finish for fourth place around 11:10 a.m. local time, 11:10 p.m. EST last night. This was Will’s second Mongol Derby completion, and he “blessed” his final mount with a bit of mare’s milk:

 

One for the Dingo fans. He's done it again! 1000kms safe as houses on a series feral Mongolian mounts. Mares milk blessing for last steed

Warren Sutton reportedly forgot to turn on his tracking device, so the tracking map still shows him as being at Urtuu 27. We are assured that he did, in fact, complete the Mongol Derby.

Later in the afternoon, the joint sixth-place finishers crossed into victory camp, including the first lady riders to complete in 2017: Brooke Wharton, Rebecca Hewitt, Marie Palzer, Jodie Ward and Greg Chant.

 

What does finishing feel like? Something like this: MP RHW GC BW JW in the final furlong. Our warmest salutes from the Ops Room - glorious

The final riders of the day to finish were Roberta McLeod at 5:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST today) for 11th place and Jen Cook at 8:18 p.m. local time (8:18 a.m. EST) for 12th. Rebecca Pumphrey turned up at the finish at 9:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EST) after getting lost in the dark for the last three kilometers.

Rebecca earned herself a three-hour technical penalty that could possibly bump her to lower than 13th depending on when the first riders finish tomorrow. Regardless of final placing, we’re sure she’s happy to be across the finish line. Congratulations to all the day’s finishers!

 

 

While the dangers of the Mongol Derby certainly aren’t diminished just by proximity to the finish line — riders can still contend with hazards like marmot holes, unpredictable and semi-wild mounts, spooky things like cars popping right up out of nowhere and the various injuries and illnesses that everyone has been battling from Day 1 — we’re perceiving from our desks on the other side of the world that the focus now is not just on surviving each day on the steppe but on finishing.

Spirits are high among the back pack: high enough that a few riders got into some fun shenanigans along the trail.

 

Meanwhile, in the rear field, Chloe reports: "Lucy (LT) and Jimbo (JL) overtook the 3 American girls (TD, AC, LW) on way to U22 whilst ...

...riding like cowboys and Indians - shooting pretend guns and bows and arrows. Jimbo also using his horse line as lasso to catch hostages"

ChloeMedia - "These guys (LT JL) are awesome. I love the Derby. The 3 girls AC BW TD plotting counter attack next leg"

BW, or Brooke Wharton, already finished earlier in the day, so this last tweet is a typo that should be LW. If there’s one person we trust to take things to the next level, it’s Leslie. So look out, Lucy and Jimbo. You’ve got LW on your tail now.

Leslie and the rest of her new trail friends have safely made it to Urtuu 25 for the night, giving them three legs to ride tomorrow and on track to finish on Day 9, one day ahead of the Day 10 deadline. We’re sending them all our best thoughts for a safe final day of riding.

Injury and Accident Assessment

In an impressive display of grit and tenacity, some of the Bloodwagon riders — those who retired earlier in the Derby due to injury or illness — are reportedly “itching to ride again.” Medical staff have been dispatched to assess Jane Boxhall, Rick Helson and Liv Wood to see if they can be cleared to ride again, at least giving them the opportunity to ride across the finish line.

We’ll continue to bring you daily updates from the Mongol trail. You can also follow along via Mongol Derby Twitter (Leslie’s call sign is LW) for live updates. Track the riders via GPS here. Go Wylie!

  • Arthur Bobinski

Wylie vs. Mongol Derby, Powered by Fleeceworks, Day 7: We Have Winners!

From Eventing Nation, By  on  - 2,437 views

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

To be held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for updates on Leslie’s ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

Ed Fernon and Barry Armitage cross the finish line together. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

After trading the lead several times not only over the past few days but in the final hour of the race, Barry Armitage of South Africa and Ed Fernon of Australia crossed the line together as co-winners of the 2017 Mongol Derby, with Jakkie Mellet of South Africa just behind them to finish third.

The three riders pushed each other hard and fast throughout the event to separate them significantly from the rest of the field, and the three Southern Hemisphere riders were the only riders to finish today. Another 10 or so riders are in range to potentially finish tomorrow.

Our own Leslie Wylie appears to have had a fast and efficient day on the steppe, making it to Urtuu 21 this evening with just six checkpoints to go before the finish line.


Day Seven Recap

A distance of 220 kilometers separated the leaders from the rear pack this morning, and the weather quickly turned hot and sunny to create challenging conditions (especially when compared to the cold, blowing rain riders faced on Day 2).

Jakkie Mellet, who had maintained a steady lead for much of the Derby, ran into trouble just beyond Urtuu 25. His horse returned without him, the saddle hanging under the horse’s belly and Jakkie followed soon after on foot; a nearby car had spooked the horse, which then proceeded to dump Jakkie. In the chaos, a stirrup leather snapped, and in a nod to our dear Leslie …

 

...JM preparing to take another horse. Not sure if's he's going to do an LW and go no stirrups, or try fashion a leather there Mongol style

Jakkie wound up making his own stirrup leather out of rope and continuing on, but not before Ed Fernon passed him to take the lead. Jakkie, Ed and Barry battled for the lead over the next few legs with about 20 minutes of traveling time separating them. As race organizers described, over a 1,000 kilometer race that’s essentially photo finish material.

Further drama ensued due to the hot weather when Jakkie picked up a vet penalty at Urtuu 27, meaning that Ed and Barry could continue on while he served two hours. Ed and Barry continued on together through the final leg, ultimately crossing the finish line together to share the win. Jakkie earned a well-fought third place, finishing roughly an hour and a half later. All three riders’ horses passed the final vet check, and all three riders (plus their horses) cooled down in the lake together!

1955 JM joking: it pretty was tough. I could go another hundred k. BA response: I think Russia's just over there

Leslie appears to be safely checked in to Urtuu 21 for the night. Without any of her gear to help her comfortably handle a night camping in the open on the steppe, this was likely the best decision despite having some riding time still available at the end of the day. As noted by race organizers, self-care along the Derby trail is important.

Which is why we’re glad Leslie appears to have gotten a good breakfast this morning:

 

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

1057 - ahhh, Mongolia. IN meantime, light relief from ChloMedia. LT grinning U18 wt her steed who fends off wolves! AC LW dumpling breakfast

Leslie and the rest of the riders at her urtuu are projected to finish two days from now, and we’ll be there every step of the way cheering our girl home! We’re delighted to see she still has a big smile on her face after seven days of facing what can only be described as myriad challenges on the Derby trail.

Yesterday’s official Derby recap put it this way: “End of Day 1 saw LW in the lead, bunking between urtuus solo. Ballsy. After a series of misfortunes including a couple lost horses, lost kit, and showing true derby grit by riding stirrupless with a sock for a saddle bag, LW may have fallen to the back of the field, but has endeared herself to onlookers as a bonafide derby legend.”

Injury and Accident Assessment

Emma Manthrope had to cope with a horse that pulled up very lame about 13 kilometers out from Urtuu 20. The vet stationed at the urtuu headed out immediately to treat the horse, who reportedly responded well to treatment and is doing fine in the care of a local family.

Mongol Derby organizers noted that injuries in the field involving the horses always take precedence over clearing the riders at checkpoints. We salute the horsemanship of the entire Mongol Derby team and the obvious care they take with the horses!

Most of the other incidents of the day involved Derby vehicles stuck in bogs or running out of fuel — the hazards of such a remote expedition with a fast-moving field!

 

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

0824 Vet Cozy hauling ass to 26 to see in JM and leaders. Been some rainfall, so...this is them pulling Ref Charles out. 

At the close of Day 7 of racing, the EN team sends our heartiest congratulations to co-winners Barry Armitage and Ed Fernon, as well as third-placed Jakkie Mellet. We’re cheering all of the Mongol Derby competitors home!

We’ll continue to bring you daily updates from the Mongol trail. You can also follow along via Mongol Derby Twitter (Leslie’s call sign is LW) for live updates. Track the riders via GPS here. Go Wylie!

Jenni Autry and Lorraine Jackson contributed to this report.

  • Arthur Bobinski

Wylie vs. Mongol Derby, Powered by Fleeceworks, Day 6: One Steppe At a Time

From Eventing Nation, By  on  - 2,195 views

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

To be held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for weekly updates from Leslie as she prepares to embark upon the ride of a lifetime! Click here to read all the stories in the series.

Current leader Jakkie Mellet on the steppe. Photo by Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby.

The Mongol Derby is modeled after Genghis Khan’s “pony express” relay system that was used to carry messages across his land. When you think about how many miles Leslie rode on Day 6 — she traveled the distance of four Urtuus, which are spaced roughly 40 kilometers apart, for a total of 160 kilometers or about 99 miles — it’s easy to see how such an express system could be effective.

It’s also a reminder that the Mongols were, and still are, tougher than nails. With more injuries forcing retirement as well as some questionable horsemanship choices, Day 6 proved to be influential.

Day Six Recap

Our Leslie and a pack of fellow riders roared out of Urtuu 14 right on the dot at 7 a.m. local time (7 p.m. EST last night) to start Day 6. We’re happy to report that Leslie’s great attitude and resilient sense of adventure despite losing her kit on Day 3 still appear to be riding high; she’s been described as “in great spirits.”

We’re even happier to report (and so, so grateful to her fellow riders) that Leslie’s been able to assemble a sort of mini-kit (as her original kit has still not been located), consisting of a sock filled with donated odds and ends from other competitors. Since everyone in the race was bound by the 11-pound gear limit, we know that there is very little extra to go around — many thanks to these generous riders!

Leslie is safely checked in at Urtuu 18 for the night, with the field spread from Urtuu 25 back to 16. The frontrunners are expected to complete the Mongol Derby tomorrow on Day 7.

Among the front runners: Jakkie Mellet continues to lead while earning kudos from the field veterinarians for smart riding and good horsemanship. He has incurred one two-hour penalty, which he served today, but is taking good care of his mounts and increasing his lead.

Ed Fernon incurred a stern, official warning and then penalty time for inconsiderate riding. The Mongol Derby takes equine welfare extremely seriously, with every horse undergoing an examination after every 40-kilometer leg. Riders are expected to present their horse to the veterinarian immediately, and every horse has 30 minutes to recover its resting heart rate. This allows the vets to determine if a horse is in metabolic distress and needs additional attention.

Unfortunately, on Day 6 Ed adopted the technique of gallopping his mount all the way to the next Urtuu only to “loiter” outside the station for about half an hour to bring his horse’s heart rate down without veterinary supervision. Ed first received a warning and then a penalty after he repeated the offense. Marie Palzer, who led alongside Ed in the early days of the race, also served six hours of penalty time today for veterinary offenses.

The six riders in the front running pack — Jakkie Mellet, Barry Armitage, Marie Palzer, Ed Fernon, William Comiskey and Warren Sutton — are expected to finish tomorrow. Vodka and airag (the famous Mongol drink of fermented mare’s milk) await them at the finish line.

Jakkie Mellet on the steppe. Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

Elsewhere on the trail, riders were strongly encouraged to take the bridge over the Kherlen River rather than attempt to ford as water levels were high. Fortunately, everyone made it safely across without incident. Storms moved in and out of the area for the “Adventure pack” (the back half of the field) but again travel appeared to be incident-free.

The family hosting at Urtuu 15 reportedly sent their riders off with packages of dumplings to be eaten on the ride. We love the Derby hospitality!

In other news, we’re trying to find a way to get word to Leslie that we’d like this one brought home for us:

 

 

… not so much this one though. He can stay in Mongolia.

 

1604 Oh, you know, just getting your afternoon ride ready. 

Injury and Accident Assessment

We’re sad to report that Liv Wood (OW) has retired after a hard fall on her lower back; yesterday we reported that she was also battling an ankle injury. According to Liv herself via Facebook, she had clean X-rays on both her foot and her back, and she should be cleared to ride after 24 hours. She fully intends to return to the trail after a day’s rest, and she may be the first person in Mongol Derby history to medically retire and then return. All our best to Liv!

Gigi Kay, age 59 from the UK, also retired on Day 6 after cracking two ribs. A late entrant to the Derby, Gigi is an equine veterinarian currently working in Morocco. We’re sending our wishes for a speedy recovery!

One minor injury to report as well:

 

1906 ChloMedia survived riding thru lightning storm and mtn pass to film...only to be smashed in face by playful toddler once safely in town

 

Jakkie Mellet on the steppe. These beautiful landscapes are too good not to share. Julian Herbert/Mongol Derby

We’ll continue to bring you daily updates from the Mongol trail. You can also follow along via Mongol Derby Twitter (Leslie’s call sign is LW) for live updates. Track the riders via GPS here. Go Wylie!

  • Arthur Bobinski

Wylie vs. Mongol Derby, Powered by Fleeceworks: Day 4 Takes A Village

From Eventing Nation, By  on  - 2,525 views

In August 2017 writer/rider Leslie Wylie will be attempting her most fearsome feat of #YOLO yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 27 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation.

To be held Aug. 9-19, the Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan’s original “pony express,” there’s no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days. Keep it here for weekly updates from Leslie as she prepares to embark upon the ride of a lifetime! Click here to read previous stories in the series.

Leslie getting some makeshift stirrups … but only after riding 24 miles without! Photo via Mongol Derby.

Did you miss past updates? Catch up on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

Somewhere in the flurry of endless email chains between the EN team, Jenni said something along the lines of “Wylie was a Viking warrior princess in another life.” The moniker stuck, and while the good folks at Derby HQ might be shaking their heads every time one of us retweets with #VikingWarriorPrincess tagged on, you have to admit that it’s a pretty fitting title.

Because, after all, what else do you call a lady who can do this, while smiling?

Oh yes, that was filmed during the now infamous #StirrupGate incident on Day 3. There goes our Leslie, cantering along without her stirrups, grinning from ear to ear, one hand casually holding the reins of her semi-wild Mongolian pony, for 24 miles no less.

Day 4 was perhaps not quite this smooth.

Day 4 Recap

The sun set on Day 3 with riders spread across the map; many overnighted at Urtuus (the official checkpoints with shelter and food) while some camped with local herders or out on the open steppe. Impressively, most of the hobbled horses were still where they ought to have been when the sun came back up, and the majority of the field got off to a fresh, quick start despite working through some aches, pains and minor injuries.

Leslie spent the night in Urtuu 9, and the start of her Day 4 was delayed ever so slightly as the crew helped her work through some issues with her tack. Most notably, the infamous camel stirrups that were donated to her yesterday.

 

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Scenes from infamous LW Stirrupgate yesterday: some camel irons and ratchet straps

   

 

Unfortunately, the camel stirrups didn’t hold up to the rigors of the Derby trail, but the delivery of a spare set of horse stirrups looked like a game-changer for her. However, Leslie’s first horse of the day had other ideas.

 

LW embracing HustlrErik after being bucked off. Required human wall, LandCruiser, goat pen to corral pony. Still all smiles this am.

   

 

Fortunately our tough cookie was soon back on the trail, though still without her kit, which is still being held hostage by a wayward pony.

At the front of the pack, Jakkie Mellet continues to lead thanks to a masterful bit of horsemanship to navigate his semi-feral mount beneath a railway bridge. Marie Palzer and Ed Fernon continue in hot pursuit, and all three are overnighting at Urtuu 16. Barry Armitage is not far behind, camped between Urtuus 15 and 16.

The rest of the field is scattered between Urtuus 11 and 15, with the biggest pack of 17 by far lodged in Urtuu 11. Many riders will be serving penalty time here, including Leslie, as she earned a one-hour penalty after she required assistance to catch her loose horse.

Unfortunately, Leslie also left her raincoat behind at Urtuu 10. Fingers crossed for good weather. So far the forecast looks promising: a high of 25C/77F, followed by a very chilly evening.

Current field with less than 200 km separating leaders from trailing pack at U11. Leslie highlighted in red.

Injury and Accident Assessment

The field grows smaller as more riders retire, and we send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Clare Salmon, who is being treated for an ankle injury. She and her husband Neil Goldie-Scott retired at Urtuu 7 this morning.

Julia Fisher and Jane Boxhall, both of whom retired earlier in the week, are back on the Derby trail so to speak, riding with Hustler Erik in the bloodwagon.

 

We always say “it takes a village” in eventing. Behind every horse and rider combination, a slew of individuals come together to keep all the wheels turning in support, from coaches and grooms to family and friends.

And it truly takes a village in Mongolia as well. From our viewpoint here at home, safely ensconced on the couch or in the office watching our little red LW dot eke her way across the steppe, it’s impossible to know what’s truly happening on the ground.

But reports of fellow riders helping each other, waiting for each other at Urtuus so they can ride together as they agreed, and of course the generosity and ingenuity of the local herdsmen are warming our hearts and making us feel like perhaps the steppe isn’t such a lonely place after all.

A big shout-out to Rachel Land, who is looking after our Leslie tonight:

 

1842 LW, RL, MS just arrived at U11. RL the riding pharmacy: pain killers, chafe butter, electrolytes. Looking after LW frm 10-11 

 

It’s definitely been a challenging day for the Mongol Derby contestants. Here’s to a good night’s rest and another cracking day on the steppe tomorrow.

 

 

We’ll continue to bring you daily updates from the Mongol trail. You can also follow along via Mongol Derby Twitter (Leslie’s call sign is LW) for live updates. Track the riders via GPS here. Go Wylie!

  • Arthur Bobinski