Jun 27 2008

Our Horse and Camel Wranglers

Published by at 5:07 pm under Mongolia,Western Mongolia

You’ve probably gathered from a few of our posts that there’s some hard work going on “behind the scenes” to make our trek run smoothly. A big part of that is 5 Kazakh guys hired to take care of all things horse or camel. They are always there when you need some help with your horse or, if you relax in camp, you can always see them busily tending to something that needs attention. There are never any serious “equipment” malfunctions which leads me to believe they’re doing a lot without us knowing about it. Their names (hope we have the spelling right) are Karbay, Elestic, Abden, Jagaa, and Hurmet. Elestic (aka Lester) was not around for the group shot…


Above, left to right: Hurmet, Karbay, Abden, Jagaa

…but we got a nice one of him with two camels (he’s the one with the hat):


Above, Elestic and two friends.

They are all incredibly friendly and like to laugh a lot. One day they had a bit of fun with me when the leader, Karbay, challenged me to an arm wrestle. I had a feeling where this was going and, sure enough, he toyed with me while I struggled, grunted, and groaned. Then he calmly decided he’d spent enough time and that it was time for him to win. Here’s a picture (note his hat which says Boston on it. This wasn’t from us):


Above, Karbay laughs. I look like I’m smiling but really I’m straining and gritting my teeth 🙂

These guys love it when people take their picture. They will even “coach” me sometimes by telling me that now is a good time to take their picture. And after I take the picture, they all race around to look at the results on the screen. One of the real benefits of digital cameras.


Above, the crew cranes their necks to see my camera’s screen when I show them some pictures I just took of them on their horses.

But like I said, it’s not all fun and games. There’s work to be done. One day in camp – a day before we climbed through a high pass in the mountains – they spent the afternoon shoeing some of the horses so that they would have better traction. I’m used to seeing horses shoed while they stand but the technique here was to hog-tie the horses on the ground then go to work. A few pictures:


Above, it turns out that it’s not that easy to get a horse to agree to be hog-tied.


Above, eventually, they all go down. This one is ready for shoeing.


Above, Elestic holds the hooves while Karbay drives the horseshoe nail.

– Dave

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