Katy Willings has been in charge of organizing some of the World’s most renowned adventures, including the longest and toughest horse race on Earth, the Mongol Derby. In the process of running these trips for others, Katy has had some incredible adventures of her own, and has since set up her own travel agency in Mongolia, Morindoo. Over the next couple of blogs she introduces us to the semi-wild Mongolian horse, its incredible strength and stamina, and its indelible place in Mongolian society and culture.
Hampshire-born, Katy was a junior international dressage rider in her teens, representing Britain at three successive European Championships. Her equestrian skills led her to ride in the inaugural Mongol Derby, the world's longest horse race, involving travelling 1000kms through Mongolia on over 25 different semi-wild horses. During the race she fell in love with the wild country, its culture and people; so much so that when she got home from she sent the organizers her CV asking for a job…and so
an 8 year career in the adventure travel industry began. She also had the chance to take up endurance riding, having trained with UK guru Maggie Pattinson pre-Derby, and was fortunate to have the ride on her Sadhira, competing up to FEI 120kms and again representing her country.
Throughout her time working on various adventures around the world, Katy’s love affair with Mongolia has stayed strong. In 2018 she decided she wanted a new kind of adventure for herself, and set up her own company, Morindoo (the phrase translates literally as the command “Mount Your Horses” and was reputedly Chinggis Khaan’s battle cry), which has Mongolia and a different kind of adventure travel philosophy at its heart.
“ Morindoo is about finding real and honest connections in Mongolia. We don’t chase the best photo but the best experience, and because I am a rider, and Mongolia welcomes horsemen with such grace and good humor, finding great horses and great riding is absolutely central to that formula. It’s such a brilliant bonding experience with our Mongolian teams and families, the mutual appreciation of a great horse or an exhilarating canter in open country. Parts of our adventures are spectacular, for sure - seeing eagle hunters, meting shamans, or riding past incredible lakes, deserts and mountains - but often the more monumental experiences offered by Morindoo trips are internal shifts of mindset. An appreciation of a different kind of horsemanship, and horse for that matter. My conception of what a horse can do, and what they are really for, changed irrevocably on my Mongol Derby, and I have loved seeing that same penny drop with everyone I have shown this magical country to since then ".
People, as well as place, are central to enriching travel experiences. Horses help too!
Healthy horses are about a way of being, as much as they are about a particular way of going. It’s so great to see more natural lifestyles and management techniques taking hold again in the UK; turnout, forage, company for horses, respecting all the natural mechanisms they already have to stay safe and well. The Mongolian horses are masters of this skill, survival, and their relationships with their human counterparts are quite different to ours as a result. There is so much there that is good, or great, and at the same time, so many good things we can show and teach them. I love being at that crossroads and able to talk to both universes.
I am really excited to showcase some of these concepts for the Haygain audience; if you are interested in their products you clearly know your equine onions, so to talk equine health and performance will be a treat.”
Katy's next blog post will be - Forage in Mongolia.