Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

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Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mongolia’s Wild Horses

One of the most important animals in Mongolian culture and history has been the horse. Chingiss Khan and his men conquered most of Eurasia by horse. Amongst archaeological finds are many decorative metal pieces of horse bits and bridles as well as saddle decorations. But what most people don’t know is that Mongolia has been home to the last surviving wild horses. We’re not talking about the mustangs of the American west. The Prezewalski horse (named after the Russian explorer of the same name.), or “takhi” as they are known in Mongolia, is the precursor to the domestic horse – similar to those seen in cave drawings found in Europe. They are the native horses of the Central Asian Steppe. In the late 1960’s, the Takhi nearly became extinct due to poaching. They have since been re-introduced into Mongolia thanks to breeding programs by zoos from around the world. There are now a little more than 200 takhi living in Mongolia.

Khustai National Park, about a two hour drive outside of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, is now a protective home for the takhi. While living in Mongolia, I had the pleasure of visiting the park, known as a wildlife reserve. When we visited in November, we also saw a large herd of Red Asian deer grazing in the foothills – what a treat!

You can visit the park year round, go hiking, horseback riding, have a meal at the park center or stay overnight in a ger. For more information visit:


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