Wild horses in Mongolia captured in stunning pictures

Cross-posted from the Daily Mail (UK)

Galloping across the snowy steppe, stunning pictures of the wild horses of Mongolia descended from the stables of Genghis Khan

Not even wild horses could drag Chinese photographer Li Gang away from the frozen beauty of Outer Mongolia.

In temperatures of minus 30 degrees he took these photographs of the legendary horses descended from the beasts that Genghis Khan’s men rode in the 13th century.

He followed the pastoralist tribesmen who herd the Shandan and Mongolian breeds through the snow-covered landscape.

Mongolian Wild Horses by Li Gang
Chinese photographer Li Gang (62) from Henan Province has spent the last three winters in the frozen wastes of Mongolia photographing the famous wild horses in freezing temperatures of -30 degrees. These incredibly tough animals are unchanged from their ancestors that enabled Ghengis Khan's Mongol hoard's to sweep across Asia to the gates of Europe in the 13th century.

See more pictures >>

Actress Julia Roberts lived among the nomads of Mongolia to discover their special relationship with the wild horse.

Mongolia is home to the only true wild horses known to still exist. Julia Roberts, who shares a passion for horses with the Mongolian people, went there to sample life as a nomad on the steppes of central Asia and learn first hand why the wild horse has been an integral part of existence there for millennia.

“For these horses to just be allowed to roam around and they don’t take off and leave …is kind of amazing. Everywhere in America, you see animals and you also see fences. Here it’s really about the love and respect that man gives to the animal that they all stay together.”

Ms. Roberts’ experience was recorded for PBS’s NATURE series in 2000.

Yes, I know. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ms. Roberts were to take a stand on behalf of our wild equines before they become extinct in the wild.

7 thoughts on “Wild horses in Mongolia captured in stunning pictures”

  1. Great picture of wild horses in snowstorm. I certainly don’t agree that these Mongolian wild horses “are the only true wild horses in the world”. This is much too narrow a definition. Most domesticated horses are more wild than domesticated and prove this by readily reverting to the wild.


    1. I don’t either Craig. The only true wild horses to me are those who have never been handled or interfered with by man. That means there aren’t any really. The way human animals insist on exploiting everything and everyone around them for their own use or entertainment, that is impossible. So how long does a horse have to been roaming free, regardless of his or her ancestry, to be considered a wild horse: 10 years, 100 years or 1000 years? The markings on many of America’s wild horses clearly demonstrates their distinct and sometimes ancient origin. Insofar as domestic horses turned loose on federal lands (does that actually happen?) and reverting to their wild natures to survive, may they not in fact be the forerunners of distant future wild herds looked upon by distant generations as valued icons?


  2. If only we could all see the Beauty they have so very naturally, Mother Nature is Perfection always ……………..She makes no mistakes , every horse she makes is perfection and sculptured in Beauty…………………… they are also given the pride of Kings and the proud ness of a nobleman……….and perseverance of the Angels………….. and the ten traits that no one can breed out !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. Reality Check:
    Julia Roberts did not live with the nomads. She lived in the Ulan Bator Hotel in downtown UB and commuted, with her extensive entourage, out to the countryside in various cars and trucks and visited herders just like any other tourist (any tourist who happens to travel with a camera crew). The horses are NOT WILD. They have been domesticated for thousands of years. There is a “Wild” horse, the Przewalski or Takhi in Mongolia but only because they were reintroduced from European preserves after being extirpated from Mongolia proper years ago. You CAN ride a Przewalski but nobody DOES. The horse has been integral to nomadic life, that’s true. Nomads also EAT their horses regularly. Horses, cattle and camels are typical winter meat because the carcasses don’t spoil in the cold. Horse meat is known to keep you warmer in winter than other kinds. Only the very best horses (racehorses or horses associated with memorable events or who have the special affection of the owner) are allowed out to pasture to die naturally (which can include being killed by wolves). The skull is then flensed and hung in a place of honor on an ovoo.
    And the horses don’t “take off and leave” as Ms. Roberts is breathlessly quoted because they spend the vast majority of their lives living in a natural herd structure. Where would they go? The herd is their world. Plus, nomads KEEP AN EYE ON THEIR STOCK, moving them regularly to provide better pasture and protect from overgrazing. Unlike other cultures who string wire and fence and go inside to watch a movie.

    But most telling here is the flat statement that these photos were taken at -30. Galloping back and forth in those temperatures when you’re chased by wolves is one thing where the potential airway/lung damage is better than being eaten. Being run around for the sake of a photograph (and to provide pay to the horses’ owner) falls into the area of questionable photographic ethics. Ask a vet. Here’s just one article of many on the subject: And this was at +5 C. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12405726

    If Mr. Li has an explanation that mitigates these concerns, I welcome it and am ready to acknowledge that I spoke without complete information.


  4. Vivian, pardon my French (fortunately, not my Irish “F-word”!), but where the HELL are the celebs that initially jumped on the Mustang bandwagon? I know some are still supportive, but why are the majority missing in action? The rich and famous are notoriously fickle, so maybe they’ve found a higher publicity cause to champion.


  5. Indeed, where is she when we need voices of powerful people to speak for the Wild Mustangs of America who have been here hundred of years if not more. We need to save our Wild Horses just as much as those in Mongolia. Julia, please help!!!!


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