Stuff attached to riders

1.  Riders must wear a riding helmet of a recognised standard at all times when mounted. 

2.  Riders must have some supply of water attached to their person.  A Camelbak, or waist mounted water bottle, would be ideal.  This is in case you fall off and are separated from your horse, and help is some hours away.  Dehydration is a real risk anyway, so this is just good sense as well as a safety measure.  You can have a platypus on your saddle too if you choose, but you must be self-sufficient in fluids without your horse.

3.  Riders must wear a satellite tracker attached to their person.  As above re water, it needs to be worn by the rider, not the horse, in case of untimely separation.  Riders will receive full training on how to operate the tracker correctly and will not be allowed to start unless we are satisfied that they have mastered theirs.    

4.  Riders must carry their record cards throughout the race and hand them in to the event director at the finish line.  They are not souvenirs for the riders, they are a very important document for the development of the event.  The cards record which horses have been selected, how fast they went and their health coming back in from their leg, all valuable stuff.  If a rider loses their record card, they will not be officially placed.  It is the responsibility of the rider to check they have been handed back the right card, and that the vet has initialed the relevant sections.

You'll be loaded up with stuff. 

All other items carried by the riders are optional.  Wear what is comfortable for you.  Carry a GPS or navigate Mongol style by stopping and asking.  Squint or bring sunglaasses.  To help, read the section titled What to Bring, and ask our Pre Race Trainer Maggie if you are torn between brands of padded knickers.


We map the course using Garmin GPS and Garmin's software.  You absolutely MUST bring a Garmin unit, and if you are not already a competent user of a GPS, get one of the following units, so that we can train you easily at the start camp.  

If you can afford a new unit or borrow one, get this one: 

Garmin GPSMap 64s

If you cannot afford a new unit, get this one second hand:

Garmin GPSMap 60csx

We do not have an exhaustive knowledge of every Garmin unit, and though there are many which have the criteria we require (below), it is absolutely vital that YOU can operate YOUR device.  We will do a group session on using the GPS but prior experience suggests this is hard to do with 10 different models in use in the classroom.  

So, if you are bringing something other than the above models, the criteria are as follows:

  • colour screen
  • USB interface
  • Micro SD memory card slot WITH MEMORY CARD IN
  • 1000 waypoint minimum hard drive memory

You must be able to input a new waypoint on your device in order to 'pass out' at pre-race training.  Oh, and navigate to that point.  Obviously.

Make sure you bring lithium batteries, not ordinary AAs, to power the GPS.  You could use 5kgs worth of batteries otherwise...


Stuff attached to horses

1. The Adventurists will provide saddles, bridles, reins, hobbles, long lead reins, none of which can be substituted for your own kit.  That is to say, all tack EXCEPT stirrups and stirrup leathers, which riders should bring with them.  Some folks like fenders, others leathers, and some like caged stirrups, others hate them.  Bring what you prefer, and have practised with. 

Detail on the Mongol Derby saddle, designed by Franco-C in Mooi River, RSA. This herder is pretty interested in it too. 

We'll be using Franco-C custom built saddles. These have been custom-designed by South African saddler Ben Liebenberg, who has equipped some high profile endurance riders and also ridden in Mongolia.  They are lightweight (4.5kgs dressed), short enough for the little Mongolian horses whilst allowing maximum seat room for the riders.  The triangular rigging minimises saddle roll, and the wide woollen girth is comfortable and (relatively) hygienic.  The saddle pads have both memory foam and sheepskin, for maximum protection and comfort for the horses.  The saddles have been specially reinforced to handle the rigours of the Mongol Derby, with the toughest materials, and riveted attachments.

2.  If you are riding in trainers or boots without heels, you must used a caged stirrup. 

3. Saddle bags, roll mats, etc.  You will all get your custom-made Mongol Derby saddle bag, designed by the saddler to go with the saddle, in the post in April.  This is deliberate- you need to PRACTISE packing your entire world into that bag.  At Pre-race Training you will have 2 or 3 training rides during which time you will be able to experiment a little and get your kit arranged just so.  But none of the Mongolian horses are tame enough to cope with saddle bags rattling and flapping, so here are some preliminary tips.

  • If you think it's on tight, tighten it again.  Elastic bungees are great for giving tension without snapping.  ANY flapping stuff is a hazard, so batten things down properly.
  • Pack things down small and keep them off the horse's back.  Too much bulk behind the saddle puts weight over a weak spot in the horse's anatomy.  Rough or abrasive bags, with pointy stuff in the bottom, could rub the horse's back and cause an injury.
  • Keep things central.  A single bag can be quite a weight hanging off to one side and can work loose or shift your saddle.  Your saddle bags are designed to tuck neatly and centrally behind your saddle
  • Behind you not in front.  If the horse can see stuff jiggling about at its eyeline (e.g. pommel bags in front of the saddle), it's likely to buck you off.  Having your gubbins behind you means the horse probably won't notice it, which is helpful.

This is a pretty good shot of the saddle too. If you look past the tiny person on it. 

Lots of lovely saddles