Meet Katy Willings: dressage rider turned Mongol Derby competitor

  • Former international dressage rider Katy Willings is taking part in the Mongol Derby, which will see 26 experienced riders crossing 1,000km of wilderness in Mongolia astride semi-wild native Mongolian horses.

    Katy, 26, was on the British pony dressage team from 1996-1998 with Forester’s Gold, who she sold on to Laura Bechtolsheimer. Katy now works full-time in the city and fits in riding her mother’s dressage horse Urlando as and when she can.

    In January she took part in the Adventurists “Rickshaw Run” and it was then that she decided to apply for the Mongol Derby, which is organised by the same group.

    “I was very attracted to the extreme physical challenge it represented,” said Katy. “And to have the chance to experience one of the last truly nomadic cultures — riding across a true wilderness with no permanent human traces — made the whole thing irresistible.

    “To make the cut from the hundreds of entries is astonishing, there are some amazing adventurers and horsemen on the start list, so to be among them is a real privilege. I’m nervous about some of the practicalities though.

    “As a dressage rider I have no concept of matters endurance, but Maggie Pattinson, who has been chef d’equipe of the Home International Endurance Team, has offered to give me some training, and so I will be on a steep learning curve in matters of pacing, navigating and looking after horse and rider over long distances.

    “I also need to learn to fend for myself in one of the world’s last true wildernesses, and survive on a diet of mutton and fermented mare’s milk — I’m not yet sure how I will train for that specifically!”

    Horse & Hound will be following Katy’s progress as she prepares for this ultimate challenge of rider endurance. Read her blogs at www.horseandhound.co.uk/mongolderby.

    To support Katy visit: www.justgiving.com/katywillings/

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