Mongolia Festival & Events

Mongolian Traditional Sports: Horse Racing

Local naadam festival in Mongolia

One of the oldest Mongolian traditional Mongolian sport is Horse Racing. Mongolian horses have been evolving in the harshest climates for thousands of years, so they are very endurance and do not tolerate forage from other types of horses.

Mongolians domesticated horses 5,000-6,000 years ago, and Mongolian scientists and American universities have proven that all the world’s horse equipment originated in Mongolia. The Russian University of Genetics has also confirmed that the ancestors of all breeds of horses in the world are descended from Mongolian horses.

From time immemorial, Mongolians have developed a method of speeding up racing horses by carefully feeding them. This method is called Tying a Horse. Horses are specially trained and tied for a month or a whole year or for continuous racing. Horses are tied in slightly different ways locally.  Horse riders are also given a certain amount of food and raced in a certain way.

local naadam Mongolia

In the first 1-2 days before the race in the Naadam festival, all horses are registered, cut and marked, and the horses’ teeth are inspected for age. Horses go to the start point by running about 27 km. As soon as all the horses arrive at the start, stop the line in 1-2 lines facing the race direction, give a shooting signal, turn all the horses around and start the race. The first 5 horses to reach the finish line are caught and award the main prize, and the other horses are caught in the order of arrival. In the DAAGA (2 YEARS OLD HORSE) competition, the last Daaga is caught and awarded the same prize as the winner with the title “Bayan Hodood” which means have eaten so much.

According to the age group, horses race in a different distances. For example, Daaga (2 years old) – 10-12Km, Shudlen (3 years old) – 12-14km, Hyazaalan (3 years old horse) – 15-17 km, Soyolon (4 years old) – 18-20 km, the stallions – 22-24 km, Ikh Nas (6 or more) 24-26 km.

Soyolon horse is the fastest and most powerful. Mongolians often say that the one who stands in dust of Soyolon race will be blessed till next Naadam. So, don’t be surprised if you see many businessmen, crowds of people wearing fancy traditional garments, as well as the Mongolia ‘strong-men’ that will wait for Mongolian fastest of the Soyolon horses during the State Naadam Festival.