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Richardin Mongolia - the hazards of horse travel

7th July 2010

It would have been a perfect morning if two horses hadn’t escaped in the night. I think of needles and haystacks as I survey horizons grazed by herds of horses. Can Baya and his team catch the miscreants? Hours pass before it becomes clear that the answer is no way. We’re preparing for our ride over the Jigleg pass, two nights and three days without Narra and the Jeeps, so travelling two short is not an option. The girls giggle as they write their diaries and set up photos designed to excite and entertain when they get home.

By 14.00, a new horseman has joined the team with another pair of matched greys and we’re back on the trail, heading through woods and colourful meadows. Others in the team have gone to buy fresh joints of lamb, leaving us with an hour to while away among log cabins that could be in Switzerland. A game of rounders beckons, with solid chunks of wood for bat and ball. True to her roots, Aussie Becca steams down the hill to bowl a bouncer that would have delighted Dennis Lillee in his prime. Had it connected, it would have taken Herbie's head off, but luckily she survives unharmed to serve her mother’s tasty shortbread for afternoon tea.

At 18.45, an hour out from camp, the accident comes out of the blue. Nicky’s pony sinks to its knees on a flat sandy track and rolls over on its side, crushing her legs and throwing her onto her right shoulder. She gets up in obvious distress, the joint clearly displaced. The girls are quick to comfort, we find pain killers, cover her with warm clothes and settle her on the ground. Herbie and Didi take it in turns to lean back to back with Nicky to provide support. Fortunately the new recruit has the relevant numbers for the doctor and the hospital in Renchinlhumbe and before long he and Tushig report that help is on its way. Meanwhile I call Johnny P, Wild Frontiers’ Mr Fixit, on the sat phone so that Nicky’s insurance company can authorise treatment.

Then we all sit down to wait. I’ve dislocated my shoulder so I know what agony Nicky’s in and I have nothing but admiration for her courage as she sits in the middle of nowhere with very little idea of what will happen next. When the lady doctor arrives at 22.00, she diagnoses a dislocated shoulder but is unwilling to put it back in case there is further damage. She administers morphine to relieve the intense pain and Nicky keeps smiling as she’s loaded into the minivan for the 35km journey to Renchinlhumbe hospital, a 35km journey that takes two hours. As a release from the tension, Bob, Nicky’s childhood friend and travelling companion, breaks open the vodka and the team gathers around the log fire to sing the first verses of old favourites until 3.00.

Jonny Bealby

Rock singer, writer and travel entrepreneur, Jonny Bealby has streetwise savvy and miles of travel under his belt. His experiences have given him the …

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