Heidi Telstad has been riding horses since she was a little girl – but now the Langley lawyer is preparing for her biggest equestrian challenge yet.
She’s the only Canadian riding in this year’s Mongol Derby. Spanning over 1,000 kilometres, it roughly tracks the postal route created by Chinggis Khaan in the 13th century. It’s often called the longest and toughest horse race in the world, and this year only 44 of the 1000 applicants were chosen to compete in the race, which covers both desert and rocky terrain through the Mongolian wilderness.
“The biggest danger is the wild dogs and they say you won’t see them coming,” said Telstad.
“If you see a dog coming, it usually belongs to a family, but the wild ones will stalk you if you are on your own.”
Riders are only allowed a small bag for the entire route, and there are strict weight limits for the horses. They ride in smaller stretches and are subbed out, meaning each rider will be paired up with several different horses.
“You’ll start as early as you can and you ride until dusk,” said Telstad.
“At that time…you stop riding, wherever you are. So you if you haven’t made it to a station, you are tracked on GPS, so they will know if you keep moving.”
Along with the bragging rights that come with completing the race, Telstad says she’s riding for the B.C. Epilepsy Society and her nephew.
“He was born with really severe epilepsy, and he’s had a really rough time. He’s five years old, and the amount of medication he takes slows down everything he’s able to do.”
The race takes place in August – and with a entry cost of approximately $18,000, Telstad is spending plenty of time fundraising as well as training.