Thursday, August 30, 2012


Mongolia: Land of the Horses

One website I was reading referred to Mongolia as the Land of the Horses, I don't know if this is official or anything but I can see why it would be true!  If you counted closely there are almost as many horses as there are people in Mongolia! That's about 2.8 million people and horses ("aduu" in Mongolian)! A traditional saying says "a Mongol without a horse in like a bird without wings" and if you understand the Nomad way of life you would quickly understand.  Sure it would be easier to have a vehicle to cart your stuff around, but vehicles need gas and don't always perform well in extreme temperatures.  Vehicles can't give you milk or be used for meat when they're no longer useful.  Horses (and in some areas camels) are much more useful and practical. They are the most respected animal in Mongolia and are treated with great care as good friends.  Children are taught to ride and treat the animals with respect from an early age, and in fact, children as young as 5 are used as jockeys in the horse races commonly held in summer.

Horse racing is the second-most popular sport (after wrestling) in Mongolia and while they race all year long, the festival of Naadam, usually held in July is the biggest race of the year.  During this festival 3 games are played- Mongolian wrestling, archery, and horse racing.  Unlike other races where the horses sprint around a track, Mongolian horse racing is about endurance and stamina.  The horses are divided up by age and race anywhere from 10 - 17 miles, ridden by a child between 5 -13 years old.  As the parent to a 5 year old, I would have a hard time letting my child do that, especially when the horses are trained to keep going even after they lost their rider!  I can just picture all these little kids chasing after their horses for miles and miles - LOL!!   

I've ridden one horse in my life (and I only did that recently), plus my daughter is still in a cast, so going horseback riding wasn't going to happen this week, so we came up with our own version of horse racing.

Horse Races (jenny-style)

For the project you will need:

  • cardboard or heavy card stock
  • wooden clothespins (4 per horse)
  • string
  • pens or crayons
  • cleared off table that's not all sticky from breakfast :)
1.  Either draw a picture of a horse body or download one from the internet and trace it onto cardboard (minus the legs)
2. Cut it out and color however you'd like your horse to look
3. Cut slits about 3/4 inch where legs would go on a horse and insert a small piece of cardboard- y'know like "tab A" into "slot A"
3. Clip clothespins onto spot where legs would be and try string around neck or staple it to front of horse.
4. Tie other end of string to a pen or pencil or stick - whatever
5.  Line up horses and have the kids twist the pencil to wind up the string and make the horses "race"
6. Repeat many times OR make little paper hats for the horses like we did :)

Actually she tried to make it a unicorn but I thought it made a great party hat!! This was fun and easy and cute.  Enjoy :)

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