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Monday, 31 October 2011

Why a Horse Riding Accident in Mongolia Is Good for the Soul - Page 4

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I was sprawled out on the grass. I then clutched at my left ribs where I felt the impact the most; I was in agony and couldn’t catch my breath. Blood covered my whole side but looking down I didn’t see any puncture wounds only small gashes and scrapes. My mare had taken off, and Sukh had not a clue as to what had happened for he was gone with the wind.
Suddenly, I look up, and looking down at me, was my white mare. The setting sun was exactly behind her head giving the impression that she was wearing a halo, like an angel, perhaps my guardian angel; because upon standing up I actually noticed how I was able to stand up and even straighten my body without any problems or feel any pain whatsoever, despite the battle scars clearly indicating some level of misfortune caused by my pride and want of excitement.
She stood there patiently by my side, compassionately I’d even say, with her eyes fixated on me, her mouth masticating grass, and her head nodding to me something like, “come on there, you’re alright!” My first riding experience had resulted in a wonderfully solidified bond between horse and man. I then concluded: unlike humans who sometimes bail out in times of need, my mare came back and was there, signaling to me with her head to jump back on and go. It was in that moment that the horse was more human than human. I patted her head, parted her forelocks which fell over her eyes, and stood there staring at her. It was a moment I will hold onto for the rest of my life.
Sukh, Lise, and my fellow traveler friends returned to find me less in pain but more shocked and surprised that nothing serious had happened. Sukh suggested taking another horse, but I remained adamant in wanting my mare. I climbed her again, in slight pain but easier than the first time, and sat atop a different saddle already set up for me. She gently pawed the Earth and delicately neighed, as a sign perhaps that there was nothing to worry about. We rode back to the ger camp, with me less at the reins than her controlling things herself. I was fine, really, just a little blood and some bruises but upon riding into camp, Sukh let out a loud halloo along with some Mongolian words and a rush of children and elders ran up to see what had happened. I showed them my wounds, and at that moment, everyone lit up with warm smiles and cheers, as though they were overjoyed. How was this? What was happening? Did they enjoy me being in pain? Maybe they were cheering because I really got to ride this horse and that I even passed the test.
Sukh then said something to one of the children who was milking a cow earlier, and she translated it to me. “He said that you know how to ride now, but you have also learned how to fall.”  The words froze me of meaning and profundity. Yes, maybe they were sappy and cliché words, but I suppose that at that particular moment, they were gospel in meaning. I then left the crowd smiling, went into my ger to lie down, and continued soaking in those words…those horse maxims.

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©Mariusz Stankiewicz

Away from the riding plains of Mongolia, Mariusz can also be found spelunking in the Philippines or dancing salsa in Cuba, or better, you can follow him at, in doing what he loves to do best which is to shutter press and to scribble about his travels.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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