New kind of hobby horse in Mongolia

These horses being trained are part of the recent revival of the traditional horse culture in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in China.

Mongolian herder Burenjargal, 34, said: "Riding a motorcycle was once quite fashionable on our grasslands. But now, horse riding is back."

Horses are important in Mongolian culture, which has more than 300 words for the animal and a further 200 just for its colour, according to Xinhua.

However, the number of horses owned by herdsmen in the region fell from 2.4 million in 1975 to less than 700,000 in 2007.

"In the past, breeding horses was not profitable. During my childhood, horse-loving families kept one or two horses. Others just sold their horses and bought motorcycles and cars," said herder Burenjargal. "Today, more people raise horses to preserve the endangered horse culture."

In 2011, the region set up three breeding bases for Mongolian horses with a total investment of 18 million yuan (S$3.7 million) per year to preserve these animals, reported Xinhua.

Such protection efforts have seen the number of horses in Inner Mongolia increase 25 per cent in a decade, reaching 880,000 last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2017, with the headline 'New kind of hobby horse in Mongolia'. Print Edition | Subscribe