orinially posted by Katherine at 23rd August 2012 at 18:35
Race Day 3:
Day 3 saw the few of us at the back hauling butt to move up the line. At most stations we requested horses that would keep pace with each other, but quite often found one or more who just could not keep up. As Ronald, Ivo, Anne and I rode into HS6 I had just finished riding one poor thing that had given all he had but it just wasn’t enough. Earlier in the day I had been riding “Stumbly” (as I dubbed him for no apparent reason) when he did a bellyflop in the middle of a sandy low-lying area, somersaulting me over his head where I landed with an amazing amount of grace in a nice deep sand pit. This day had been very physically challenging, with heat and slow horses and more slow horses…we had worked very hard for every mile we had ridden and it seemed fitting that I finally dismounted and walked my horse the last 2 or 3 kilometers into HS6. I had a feeling that he was on the verge of becoming lame, and had no intention of limping a horse into any horse station, no matter how urgent it was becoming to us and the organizers that we move a little quicker. Spirits were low, we were all tired, but we were greeted like returning heroes by the vet team and the interpreters. It seemed we were now officially the underdogs and lo and behold, they were rooting for us anyways!
Anne, Ivo and Ronald
We were treated to delicious meat pastries, doing wonders for our energy levels, picked our next horses and decided to head as far as we could to the next horse station. We contracted the services of a couple of young Mongolian men on a motorcycle to lead us to a ger family where we could spend the night, and as night fell, our horses seemed to pick up speed. I remember cantering through brush, barely able to see the obstacles and trusting my horse to pick the best route as I couldn’t see anything in the deepening dusk. The rules stated no movement past 9pm, and it was with minutes to spare that we pulled up in front of a ger. Horses hobbled, saddle and bag removed, we were ready for the night.
“How do we get clean?” Anne asked. “We don’t, silly” was my reply. It had become a fact of life to wipe off with a wet hand wipe at the end of the day – water on this part of the course was precious and the Mongolians didn’t see any wisdom in wasting it for something as minor as washing. Regardless, somehow we negotiated a small bowl of water to share, to dip a banadana in and to use in brushing teeth. As Anne and I were standing in the small puddle of light given off by our headlamps, brushing and washing, a baby goat wandered into the party. He sucked and nibbled on my fingers as I bent over to scratch his head, and I remember thinking that was the cutest thing on which to end the day.
Our hosts for the evening
Sometime in the night, our horses ran away. Our hosts, for which I will ever be grateful and will disregard the uncharitable feelings I had for not being able to find their latrine hole in the dark (I don’t think there was one to be honest) chased after them and brought them back, and we were ready for our 7am departure once again.