The Gobi Gallop is a charity horseback ride held every year in Mongolia. Each year the ride covers a different 700 kilometre route in 10 days ( yes, you read that right - 700 kms in 10 days!) and the riders fees along with money they raise through corporate and private sponsorship and money raised at a charity auction and Gala event upon their return ALL goes to help the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project Initiatives. It is, we believe, the longest annual charity horseback ride in the world.
Before I tell the tale, I would like to let you know that this year's Edition of the Gobi Gallop was a stunning panorama of beauty and adventure and, as its stated goal is to raise money to help the children, I am thrilled to announce we raised (in combination with the Gobi Gallop Gala) a little over $100,000.00, all of which will go directly to help the children up at the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project!
Serious and heartfelt thanks to the riders, their sponsors, our corporate partners Ford, Oyu Tolgoi and KalTech along with the whole crew at Horse Trek Mongolia and all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make it such a success. Without all of your effort and support we could not do what we do.
Thank you for helping us make a difference...one child at a time.
So, as you might imagine, 700 kilometres of adventure takes quite the telling. As I sit here sorting through literally thousands of gorgeous photos trying to work it down to a manageable number to show you what it was like for me, I thought I would take something of a short cut and first introduce you to the Gobi Gallop 2016 through the magic of Follow the Lens Photography and their very very nifty drone... enjoy the show..and then scroll down to where I've done my best to outline what is one of the most special rides on the planet.
(So I'm not too sure where to begin. The Gobi Gallop is a really unique and amazing experience and each year it somehow defies my ability to hold it all in my head at that same time much less string it together into something that looks like a cohesive look at what happened out there on the steppe. Every year I wonder " How can I communicate how special this was?" and every year I give up and just dive in - randomly stringing together the unmatched corners of thrill, excitement and pain to hopefully share with you what it's like to ride the wild Mongolian Steppe!
So here goes...How about we start with with 10 EPIC riders from around the world, 14 fabulous Mongolian and Foreign crew , untold miles of stunning , breathtaking scenery, 4 support vehicles (including the fabulous Ford Raptor well equipped with a very well used winch!)and 32 of the most valiant and capable horses on the planet. We began as strangers and quickly moved to become great friends - friends who shared laughs and pain and very public bathroom situations. Friends who cared for and nurtured each other at their weak moments and then let themselves be nurtured at their own weak moments. Friends with very bad language (some of them...some had to be taught bad language!) and very beautiful hearts. Friends whose poetry and grace glittered and cascaded around us all as we all, overwhelmed by the emotion of the experience, struggled to try somehow to put words to the beauty and the majesty we were experiencing. Strangers who became the points of a unique and beautiful star that was made up those of us who had the uncanny great fortune to ride the Gobi Gallop 2016 - In the Steps of the Khaan.
Retracing the famous footsteps of one of the world's greatest leader and man of the millenium Chinggis Khaan, we began with a simple and inauspicious visit to the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Kindergarten ( please note - I do not purport to endorse a previous visit by Chinggis Khaan to the kindergarten....although I don't rule it out either!) where the riders had the chance to meet the little ones who would be benefitting from the ride. They had a chance to laugh, play and giggle with the children who are, as always, my inspiration for this ride. It was lovely to see all the riders along with some of our corporate sponsors share the joy of shared play with the children and even more touchg was to see how many of them had brought along sometimes VERY LARGE suitcases filled with toys, warm socks, pencils and papers and other supplies for the kindergarten. Thank you to all the riders to keeping the children first and foremost in your thoughts and making such a great effort to help us make a difference to these children. On another note...lease note how clean and well put together the riders look. Spoiler Alert - They won't stay that way for long!
The intrepid riders from left to right - Alix Crittenden (U.S.A), Katie Hayes (Canada by way of New Zealand), Ally Rankin (Saudi Arabia by way of New Zealand), Steve Kraakman (N.Z.) Leslie Sobol (U.S.A.) Steve Potter (Mongolia by way of England), Julie Veloo(Canada) , Cedar Waslewski (Canada) , Josie Stoker (Mongolia by way of England) , Teresa Wong (Singapore), Robyn Hepburn (Australia). Holding the flag for our fantastic corporate ride sponsor, Ford Asia, is Garrett Wilson and Aart Jongenjans , and of course, the stars of the event, the gorgeous children front he Children of the Peak Sanctuary Kindergarten.
The Ride itself - a thousand unexpected glittering moments
So combing through said hundreds ( thousands?) of photos to try and make this a manageable look for those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure of riding the Gobi Gallop, I tried to put together group of photos that give a feeling for what it was like. The slideshow below covers the some of the highlights of this the 4th Annual Gobi Gallop - some of the fun, crazy moments, the difficult rain splattered boggy moments, the painful "I- think-I've-broken-a-bone" minutes ( and he had...!), the unending uplifting vistas and spiritual sights, heat rash and saddle sores, crazy folk herding the unridden horses through (into!) blowing 100 kilometre wind & rain, the lone National Performer Laureate we met herding his sheep because he had turned down the offer to go and be the Official National Singer / Composer...because he loved the land .and yes , he sang for us! (video below), the buying of the 2 horses to replace horses sent home because of hoof problems and buying a horse donated by one of the riders from the Crew Ride (separate blog!) to start our horse herd at the Soaring Crane Summer camp, hip hop dancing on open steppe with the famous Angarac, our so much more than translator, and endless herds of free ranging semi wild horses, camaraderie of an excellent group that decorated the steppe with the hoots of wild laughter and shared stories ( and scandals!) of their lives, horses stuck in the bog, meeting gorgeous children on their valiant steeds as they herded their family animals, shrines, stables, caves where monks spent years in isolation praying, small riders dotting across epic 10 mile wide and 20 mile long valleys, sunrises and sunset, dips in the water and collapsing into a sleep in the shade. That's the Gallop. At least that's part of the Gallop...it's something special and unique for everyone. This is what it was for me.
The Gobi Gallop could not happen without the support of some really amazing companies. We'd like to take a moment to let you know how some of these companies have (and continue to!) support us.
Thanks to everyone for all your support. Hope to see you next year out on the wild Mongolian Steppe as we ride
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