GORKHI-TERELJ NATIONAL PARK, TUV PROVINCE, MONGOLIA — On a sunny autumn morning, a group of 80 young people gather for a daylong adventure in this national park about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of Ulaanbaatar, the capital. They drink milk tea and eat boortsog, a type of fried dough similar to doughnuts, cooked over an open fire. Then they listen as a young man provides a lesson on how to ride a horse.
“You mount a horse from the left side and dismount from the same side,” says Buyandelger Ariunbold, the instructor. “First, put your left foot in the stirrup, hold the front of the saddle and then pull your body up.”
Horseback riding is a central part of Mongolia’s cultural heritage, stretching back more than 3,000 years. It arose from the country’s nomadic traditions and has endured as part of the livestock industry, the centerpiece of the national economy. But in recent years, modernity has begun to trump tradition….