Nowhere are horses more central to daily life than in Mongolia. Mongolia is known as the land of the horse, and Mongols have a reputation for being the best horsemen on Earth. “It is not possible to imagine Mongolian history without horses,” says J. Tserendeleg, president of the Mongolian Association for Conservation of Nature and the Environment. “I think it is not possible to view the future of Mongolia without horses as well. Mongolia is not Mongolia without horses.”
In my following article I would write about under the general topic HORSE IN MONGOLIAN CULTURE into several sub topics.
Lets start from details about our kind. Mongol horses are of a stocky build, with relatively short but strong legs and a large head. They weigh about 270 kg and range in size from 122 to 142 cm in height. Their cannon bone external circumference is about 200 mm. Mongolian horses have great stamina although they have small bodies, they can gallop for 10 km without a break. In other hand they are SUPREME on the steppe. Mongolia is ranked first by the number of horses per 1,000 people. In a landlocked country of only slightly more than three million people and the three million horses remain integral to everyday life in Mongolia. Mongolia remains one of the last places on earth where the relationship between man and horse is symbiotic. The horses live outdoors all year. In winter it can be −40 °C, in summer +30. (Capital city: ULAANBAATAR is considered coldest capital in the world) They search for food on their own. Barns, pastures and stables are very rare and the horses are allowed to roam free. Horses are used both for the daily work of the nomads and in horse racing. Horses are not an expensive luxury item, but a practical part of everyday life. The mares are milked, meat will be eaten; herdsmen regard their horses as both a form of wealth and a source of the daily necessities: transportation, food and drink. Despite their life in semi-feral conditions, most horses live to be 20-40 years old. A herder with many horses considered wealthy most of the time. And this also connects with exceptional respect on horse than any other domestic animals. Also, we do not give to horses names. rather, we identify them by their color,markings,scars and branding. Over five hundred words in the Mongolian language describe the traits of horses within 250 terms for coat color/pattern alone. Additionally, most interesting thing is that Mongol horses are able to to find their homeland at any time from any distance.
- Nomads of the central Asian steppes have been documented as riding horses since 2000 BC. Tests have shown that among all horse breeds, Mongol horses feature the largest genetic variety. This indicates that it is a very archaic breed suffering little human-induced selection. The data also indicate that many other breeds descend from the Mongol horses. The Mongol horse was approved in 1990 as an independent breed. As a fact: There are around 3.3 billion domestic animals in the world, of which 1.7 percent are horses. In other words, there are over 60 million horses of around 250 breeds, of which two percent are in Mongolia.
As a domestic animal: Horses are most prestigious than any other animals. Mongol horses are valued for their milk, meat, and hair.
In the summer, mares are milked six times a day, once every two hours. The milk is used to make the fermented drinks of Mongolia, airag or kumis. Of the various animals milked by Mongolians, horses give milk for the second longest period of time beginning midway through July and last until late November. In addition, mare’s milk has been used in ceremonies of purification, prayer, and blessing since antiquity. Horse meat is considered the healthiest, most delicious kind of meat. Each 360-400 kg Mongol horse yields about 180-200 kg of meat. There are 2,500-3,000 calories in one kg of horse meat. During the extremely cold Mongolian winter, some people prefer horse meat due to its low cholesterol. It is kept unfrozen, and traditionally people think horse meat helps warm them up. But also, horse meat and fermented mare’s milk are used for healing many diseases such as lung disease, hepatic, osteoporosis, chronic colitis, chronic kidney inflammation, and hypertension. Mongols have many stories and songs about horses. The horse has long played a role as a sacred animal, and Mongols have a variety of spiritual beliefs regarding them. The mane is believed to contain a horse’s spirit and strength. For this reason, the mane of stallions is always left uncut.
- The horse’s hair can be used for a number of products, including rope, fiddle strings, and a variety of ornaments. Tail hair was also used in the creation of musical instruments. The traditional Mongolian morin khuur has two strings made of horse hair. Due to the spiritual significance of a horse’s mane, black and white mane hair was used to make spirit banners. Black hair indicated a war tug (banner) and white hairs a peace tug. The black hair was taken from bay horses.
Horsemanship. Mongolian horsemen learn everything necessary to care for a horse. There are no trainers, farriers or veterinarians; each man has to learn these things. For difficult problems, the local elders may be called in or even an outside vet if one can be found. Information is passed down orally from parent to child. “It is a pleasure to see the Mongols in association with their horses, and to see them on horseback is a joy. The strength, swiftness and elegance of a Mongol surpass that of any ballet dancer.”Mongolian nomads have long been considered to be some of the best horsemen in the world. During the time of Genghis Khan, Mongol horse archers were capable of feats such as sliding down the side of their horse to shield their body from enemy arrows, while simultaneously holding their bow under the horse’s chin and returning fire, all at full gallop.
Today as in the middle Ages, parents will place their child on a horse and hold them there before the child can even hang on without assistance. By the age of 4, children are riding horses with their parents. By age 6, children can ride in races and by age 10, they are learning to make their own tack.
A Wild Horse returns home. Following the main topic i wanted to highlight about Takhi known as Przewalski’s horse.
While all horses are important to the Mongolians, takhi—the wild horses that once roamed the Eurasian steppe in huge herds—are especially so. “Takhi” means “spirit” or “spiritual” in Mongolian, and Mongolians consider the species a symbol of their national heritage. “We have a saying, ‘as fast as takhi,’ and we, as herders, all have a dream of having our mares mate with takhi to have a breed of fast horses—but they always got away from our catching poles,” says the herder. The takhi went extinct in the wild in the late 1960s, but several programs have since reintroduced the wild horse to the Mongolian steppe and the Gobi Desert. In this country where horses are equated with freedom and well-being, the takhi’s return is profoundly meaningful. Lastly, i would proudly announce that today in Mongolia the biggest population of wild horses remaining at Hustai National Park.
Lastly, can you guess what was the most powerful weapon during the great Mongol Empire?
The Mongol army’s battle tactics depended on their sturdy, agile and durable horses. With their Mongol horses and compound bows, the Mongol armies conquered lands from China to Hungary, from northern India to Russia. The largest contiguous land empire in history…
“Jalam Khar”- national music based on the story of mythical black horse that ran thousands of miles back to the place where it was born.