TOM QUILTY WINNER redefines winning & utilises her endurance experience. A journey of inner and outer strengh and determination.
I had for a long time wanted to ride a Mongolian horse in Mongolia with the herdsmen but not as a tourist so when this opportunity arised I didn’t take much talking into. For Steve Clibborn, (my partner) it was for the experience and the challenge to ride 6 consecutive days of 80km on unfamiliar horses. We were both concerned given our ages and increasing niggling ailments that come with age and how we would cope.
Our riding school, Horsetalk Riding Farm, with a motto for “sharing horse experience to riders and families”, was busy before departure and our personal time in the saddle was limited. So we had to train like the wind, trim down, we both shed between 6 – 10kgs and relied on muscle memory to get us through the race!
With my past long history of endurance competition on finely tuned and trained very spoilt athletic horses and competitions worldwide, including the World Equestrian games, the Tevis Cup, the Presidents Cup in Dubai, 7 Tom Quilty buckles including a win, it was initially difficult to manage the expectations placed on me and this was the first (not the last) mental challenge I had to overcome.
It is no accident that our Horsetalk motto drew us a team where sharing experience was necessary from each rider. Our team consisted of Argy an adorable young Mongolian man who had limited endurance experience but had a lifetime of knowledge with these horses and could not speak English. Kendall Moore was our other team member with limited endurance experience but is an accomplished horsewoman. We began the event with amazing results in the first 2 days and I am sure we looked unbeatable as a team.
On the second day we started off and had discussed that it would be awesome if we could cross the line first hand in hand on one day during the event which we achieved on that day. This was the highlight for Steve and I as it was not an easy feat. For all four of us to draw horses that could stay together and rely on the exceptionally good horsemanship skills of the team were the ingredients that enabled us to cross the finish line as one. As the race went on we had plans to stay cohesive as a team however, this was not to happen as the days went ahead. On the following days the horses we drew had trouble staying together for varying reasons and the team strategy needed to adapt – we decided to allow the fittest and fastest to go ahead and do their best. I also failed to mention that we were also the only team to all vet out on one day too, which definitely had an impact on our overall results!!
Mentally, I found the transition from strategising to win to accepting my fate and releasing the burden of expectation challenging, and that is the nature of endurance. We were not in control day to day on what horses we drew and how well each of us would travel over 80km. Mongolia had the final say and ‘winning’ needed to be redefined. The level of horsemanship required to mount an unknown horse each day and successfully ride 80km through a desert environment cannot be understated. My ‘win’ came from seeing my partner, Steve Clibborn, not only complete the race but experience ‘going it alone’ out in the desert when I just couldn’t keep up. It also came from me digging deep on the last day, when the heat was horrendous and by hook or by crook, I was determined to finish. On that last day, I worked hard, I did it really tough, I struggled and I was determined. To conquer one’s own self is often the biggest and most defining reward. And of course to experience the achievements of our team, a motley crew who had never met each other and one who couldn’t speak English, surreptitiously placed together on the Mongolian steppes.
We have all learnt a lot and brought back something special from this experience. Never lose sight of the Motto to Complete is to win.
We just loved the horses, the culture and the experience not to forget all the lovely people and friendships that were formed during this whole journey. A special thank you to all who participated and worked to make this event happen. The event gave us much more than we expected from the culture, scenery, changeable weather conditions, living environment and food experiences not forgetting the famous fermented Vodka! Finally, Argy, it was a pleasure to mentor you, however I know you taught us more than you realise.
Thanks for the adventure,
Joyce Corbett & Steve Clibborn