8 Good Reasons to choose Stone Horse Expeditions
Key Points about Stone Horse Expeditions – What they Mean and Why they Matter
1. Small Groups
When we say small groups, it means a maximum of 6 riding guests. This makes for a great experience and high quality of service. Our support team on expeditions is usually five, including us as the owners/operators, two wranglers and a camp assistant. This allows us to give our guests the individual attention they deserve, providing personal service, safety and information to each guest.
2. Low Impact
As owners/operators looking back on professional careers in conservation and park management, we run our wilderness expeditions with a high standard of ecological conduct in terms of waste management, use of water and grasslands resources, and mode of travel. We avoid waste/packaging as much as possible, and carry out all our rubbish – and sometimes that of others. We alternate campsites so as not to degrade grassland, forest and water resources at these scenic sites. We respect the grazing and water resources of the customary users in the National park we ride in – the nomadic livestock herders.
We avoid plastic bottles, and participate in the “Travelers against Plastic” campaign (TAP). For drinking water, we filter and/or boil water and provide stainless steel drinking bottles for each guest. We actively work with the authorities of Gorkhi Terelj National Park and the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. With the latter, we run the annual “Wilderness Conservation Adventure”, an opportunity for riding guests to help with wilderness preservation activities while enjoying a great riding adventure.
3. Natural Beauty and Scenic Landscapes
Gorkhi Terelj National Park is known for its picturesque landscapes of rolling grasslands, towering rock formations, forest clad hills and clear rivers. The Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area is the largest road less area in Mongolia, a scenic wilderness of forests and mountains. We travel into the remote back country, and we use horses only. Our pack horses bring all the supplies and provisions. We do not rely on vehicle support, and therefore can access the most scenic sites and enjoy truly remote wilderness experiences.
4. Short Distance Travel to Start Your Riding Adventure
Our staging area is close to Ulaanbaatar City, between 60-90 minutes drive from your city hotel. You don’t waste time with vehicle or air travel to get to the start of your riding adventure. Yet, our staging area is close to scenic riding country. It is about an hour’s ride to the pass that marks the entrance into Gorkhi Terelj National Park. Besides saving time, you also create less carbon emissions by cutting down on vehicle or air travel.
5. Our Own Expedition Horses
We do not rent horses for a trip, or for the season. We own our own horses – 26 experienced expedition horses. Saddle and pack horses who know their jobs well, and who are a team. As any horse owner or lover knows, they all are great individuals and sentient beings. We care for them year-round, with fodder in the winter and with regular veterinary checks, hoof and tooth care and de-worming.
All our horses are easy going and responsive, yet of different spirit and character. Spending time with them year round, on the trail and in their home valley, we know each and every one of them well. Therefore, we are able to match horse and rider so that riders of all levels can enjoy the ride and the scenery, and their horse, and can hone their riding skills at the level they want.
Stone Horse Expeditions was borne out of our love of horses and of wilderness travel. We expanded on our core herd that we already had from years of wilderness explorations. Owning our expedition horses that know each other also means smooth running of the trip, as opposed to horses of different herds and owners sorting out their rank and differences on a trip, thus effecting enjoyment and safety during the tour.
6. Quality Saddles and Camping Equipment
We use Western trail riding saddles, and most of our guest saddles are from our own saddlery. Sabine learned Western saddle making at Sierra Saddlery School in New Mexico. Equipped with the skills and knowledge to construct robust and comfortable saddles – with the seat being the key to balanced riding- she set out to develop “Stone Horse Saddles” – lightweight trail riding saddles that fit Mongolian horses well. After many seasons of wilderness expeditions, we can attest to the durability of the saddles, and many guest testimonials have given Stone Horse saddles high grades for comfort and safety, as well as for beauty. All our guest saddles have safety features, the most important of them are safety cages to prevent a rider’s foot from being caught in the stirrup. The saddles have cruppers and breastplates to stay in place on steep terrain.
As a further safety measure, we provide helmets to all guests, and for comfort for those who do not bring riding boots we provide half chaps.
For camping comforts, the standard kit we issue to every guest includes, besides helmet and chaps, saddle bags with two side bags and a top bag, sleeping bag and inner sleeping bag (and an extra outer bag from September on wards), pillow case, two water proof sacks for clothing and sleeping bag, and mattress. Tents are provided for single, double or more occupancy according to preferences of solo, couple or group travelers.
The camp consists of the sleeping tents, a dining tent and the kitchen/cooking tent. From September on wards, the dining tent is heated by a collapsible wood stove that we carry in the cool season. There is a hand wash station, and on request a simple camp shower. Arrived at the camp site, the first thing to go up is the camp kitchen and the table with refreshments – coffee, tea, biscuits, electrolyte drinks in the hot season, as well as wine and snacks while dinner is being prepared.
7. Our Expedition Food
Two of the pack horses carry the camp kitchen and the food – including lots of fresh vegetables. Our menu is nutritious and varied, including such dishes as bean burritos, lentil curry, pizza, chili, goulash, spaghetti and often on first nights of the trek – a barbecue. We cater for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters, and accommodate individual needs such as gluten free. Meat lovers might enjoy the Mongolian cuisine that we prepare for our wranglers and other staff if they prefer it.
Our meals include salads and soups, both of which are very popular with most guests, and requests for recipes are frequent (and we will provide them, watch our website for an E-book on expedition cooking ..). Breakfasts consist of eggs, bread and jam, mueslis and granolas, as well as cooked breakfasts with beans, potatoes and other savory ingredients. Coffee is ground and brewed fresh every morning, and a selection of teas is available. Lunches are picnic style with choices of bread, sausage, cheeses, tomato and cucumber, peanut butter and jam, snack bars, fruits and hot and cold drinks.
With healthy and nutritious food, and individual needs being accommodated, our guests stay well and keep up their energy for the expedition days. And wine and extras such as birthday cakes when the occasion calls for it, keep up spirits and make for great campsite evenings.
8. 30 + Years Experience in Wilderness Guiding
We have worked in wilderness travel and conservation throughout our careers that span over 30 years in wild places – among them Antarctica, the desert of Oman and the Gobi desert. We have explored our expedition routes in Mongolia for over 15 years on horseback. All these years in remote places have given us a solid back ground in wilderness expedition logistics and safety.
We look forward to hearing from you,