Local riders to tackle Gobi Desert Cup

DETERMINED: Horsetalk Riding Farm endurance team members Steve Clibborn and Joyce Corbett get their fitness up in preparation for the race.
DETERMINED: Horsetalk Riding Farm endurance team members Steve Clibborn and Joyce Corbett get their fitness up in preparation for the race. Marc Stapelberg

THE desert in Mongolia conjures vivid images of a foreign culture and harsh conditions.

For Horsetalk Riding Farm owners Steve Clibborn and Joyce Corbett it will be their personal battleground for a week as they strive to conquer exhaustion, heat, cold and mental fatigue while participating in a 480km race through the unforgiving desert.

The inaugural Gobi Desert Cup will take place in September and is a 480 kilometre endurance ride starting 160km outside UlaanBataar, the capital of Mongolia.

Riders will ride a new Mongolian horse especially trained for The Gobi Desert Cup everyday for 80km.

There will be two vet checks daily at about 40km and at the end of the 80km course.

The veterinarians will check the horses heart rate, gait and general condition to be deemed fit to continue.

Horsetalk Endurance team member Joyce Corbett is a national champion in endurance riding with seven Quilty Buckles and eventually winning the coveted Tom Quilty Gold Cup in 2004 which is Australia's most prestigious endurance horse race.

She said they were both nervous and excited for the adventure into a completely unknown world and culture.

"They are unknown horses.

"We've have never ridden them and don't know how they've been trained.”

Ms Corbett said the key would be to manage the horses, use their experience to be sensitive to the horse's fitness level and to ride to the horse's ability.

The pair will be taking their tried and tested gear including an endurance saddle with safety stirrups that breakaway should you fall, water packs, and and a wrist watch to monitor the horses distance travelled and pace.

Mr Clibborn said this race would test the rider's endurance ability more than the horses as horses were changed every 80km.

He said it would really determine the rider's ability to handle the course and was daunting due to the fact that the further into the race you travelled the harder turning back became.

There will be four different nationalities in the 2017 edition of The Gobi Desert Cup; Australian, American, New Zealanders and French.

The group will be camping with a local family of nomads camping along the route.

Ms Corbett said experiencing the culture would be a highlight in itself and it had always been a dream to visit the country.

Topics:  endurance endurance horse ride northern rivers sport

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