My big Mongolia adventure started in December 2022 when my wife, Doris, applied and was accepted for a teaching position at an international school in Ulaanbaatar. We had always wanted to live abroad, but Doris only had two more teaching years left. I think in many ways Mongolia chose us. We certainly didn’t know what to expect. But we both knew that we wanted to experience Mongolian horse riding. Connecting with Horse Trek Mongolia led to our “introductory” ride (a 53km two-day overnight ride) in August. This was followed by my invitation to a week-long horse trek in September. This experience allowed me to participate in Mongolian nomadic culture, where we moved over 200 horses and cattle from summer to fall pasture grounds. I was hooked.
As our boys grew up, we enjoyed many vacations. And whenever we could, we tried to include a horse ride. Our son Jens, despite seizures and left sided paralysis, always had an amazing oneness with horses, from the time he was very young. As a family, we had epic rides in the Red Deer River valley (Alberta), followed a few years later by an overnight horse trek in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. Three years before his death, Jens rode bareback in the Caribbean Sea. He loved it.
In September, I had the opportunity to visit the Veloo Foundation’s Children of the Peak Sanctuary kindergarten and Gandys Community Library. In a community which has so few resources available to them, I was moved by the incredible power and potential the library brings. This vibrant gathering place is so important to children, teens and their families. Libraries have always been important to our family. Doris has been a teacher-librarian in disadvantaged areas of Toronto; our sons, Oliver and Jens, volunteered and were involved with libraries in every stage of their lives. And now my participation in the Gobi Gallop will allow me to raise funds to continue the exceptional work of the Veloo Foundation. Doris and I will be matching each dollar donated up to the $4500 US goal in honour of our remarkable son, Jens, who died last year at age twenty-eight of seizure-related complications.