Rachel at Chillisauce gets some pointers from the winner of the 2013 Mongol Derby Lara Prior-Palmer, on how to prepare for the derby and in this case; how to win.
• Before the derby make sure that you’re riding fit, when cantering make sure that you’re standing up in the stirrups to practice for the fast pace of the derby.
• Use a range of horses to train and attempt riding out racehorses / polo ponies / event horses all for fitness and endurance riding is great practice for the range of Mongolian horses that you will be given.
• Practicing with a backpack on will bruise the ribs and shoulders into submission ready for the derby.
• Broaden your vocabulary and imagination in order to come up with apt names for all 28 ponies. (25 race, 3 warm up/practice)
• Make sure to ride some bucking or naughty horses so you can break any bones that want to break before you get there!
• In regards to your general attitude towards the derby, try not to take it too seriously, the event is a phenomenal and brilliant but slightly ridiculous one. Nonetheless, fitness is a must and should be dealt with beforehand, preferably with less than five weeks to go!
• You should be able to run for a minimum of an hour which will get your body in shape for the derby. (Obviously no running is involved) attempt other sports like swimming/tennis/pilates/sport of choice (but not ping pong.) These will all help contribute to your fitness levels. Also keeping active all day will also contribute (particularly important for older, less able bodied beings), and will recreate the 13-14 hours on horseback.
• Mentally expect something unlike anything you have faced before, in the derby the majority of winning is based on luck, and therefore prepare yourself not to finish. Therefore, to keep sane don’t take the derby too seriously.
• There is a weight limit of 85KG with kit on so weight loss is necessary if you are over. Quite a few of the guys this year had lost impressive amounts of weight in order to take part.
• Up your drinking tolerance! The Mongolians like offer their alcohol as a kind gesture, especially their fermented mares milk which takes a gutsy digestion.
• Regarding health, diarrhoea and vomiting affected nearly all the riders this year, some later than others. Visiting India and getting a tummy bug beforehand helps the immune system / eating lots of mouldy food!
• If you're really keen you can practice with your GPS navigating to a coordinated point, but nobody actually does that. Most haven't taken their GPSs out of their boxes until they get to start camp!
• Nothing can prepare you for Mongolia so just chill out and look forward to it with great trepidation.
You can read the full interview Lara gave Chillisauce on their blog.