Mongolia has the world’s longest and most difficult horse race, which is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records. Mongolians compete in horse races almost every year, with the exception of the winter months. The biggest and most exciting one, however, takes place during the Naadam Festival. Horses are divided into six groups based on their age. The distance of the race varies depending on the age group: two-year-old horses race 10-12 kilometers, stallions race 23 kilometers on average, and seven-year-old horses race 25-26 kilometers.
Horse jockeys are children between the ages of 5 and 12. Because of the long distances that horses must travel, jockeys tend to be light, small, and experienced. Horse jockeys are responsible for inspiring, encouraging, and raising the spirits of their horses during races by singing a song called “Giingoo.”
Until Naadam, both horses and jockeys go through months of intensive training. Horses are fed a special diet, cared for with tenderness, and loved. The first five horses and jockeys in the race are rewarded and revered. Mongolians claim that touching the winning horse’s sweat would bring them good fortune.