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.
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.