Raw displays of power and poise

By Xu Lin / Yuan Hui ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-08-22 08:14:19

Raw displays of power and poise

Young members of the Double Horse Club performing breathtaking riding tricks at the arena of the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan Tourist Area. [Photo by Feng Yongbin / China Daily]

On a sweltering August afternoon, two horses gallop across an outdoor arena at breakneck speed. Riding each of the horses is a young woman decked from head to toe in traditional Mongolian costume. Suddenly, as the pair clasp their arms and hands around the horses' necks, they throw the rest of their bodies to the left of the horse and are soon hanging on at their steeds' side as the horses continue their hell-for-leather run.

This performance is a daily spectacle at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan Tourist Area, Ordos city, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, one that supplements a grand tour of the mausoleum with a raw display of what lies behind deep-rooted Mongolian horse culture.

No wonder then, that these performances and other elements of horse culture are drawing more and more tourists to Inner Mongolia. The numbers of people visiting the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan Tourist Area have been growing at an average of 10 percent in recent years, official figures show, and last year, there were 800,000 visitors.

"I adore horses," says one of the two Mongolian performers, Qigelhen, 21, from the Double Horse Club. "They are very tame once you've been with them for some time. Visitors are very curious about our horse-riding skills."

The two women perform for visitors two or three times a day from May 1 to Oct 8.

Qigelhen says she can do about five tricks, such as riding with one foot on a horse's back and the other in a stirrup, and is paid up to 3,000 yuan ($470) a month.

A lot of her time is spent bonding with her horse, she says, which means touching it, talking to it and feeding it apples. She does physical training every day, including running and flexibility exercises.

Tang Dalai, assistant director at the tourist area, says the riding shows have been held since 2009, the chief aims being to demonstrate Mongolian horse culture and to add an extra dimension to the visits of tourists coming to the area.

"Local culture is the key to our tourism products. It's what visitors want to experience, and equestrian activities are the best way to get to know Inner Mongolia."

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