Look at my horse
It was a long time coming, before we were even in Sichuan, we knew that we wanted to go horsetrekking in Tagong.
Tibetan Sichuan is a wonderful place, so before horsetrekking, we went hiking around a holy mountain called Gongga Shan (or Minye Konka), spent days in Kangding just soaking in the atmosphere, eating Tibetan food; the most traditional Tibetan food is tsampa: Tea, yak butter and barley flour, mixed together to form a solid dough, which you then eat, it’s not very tasty, but very filling.
Ten days after arriving in Kangding, we set off, quite a journey (explained here: ), for Tagong, a small trading village, situated at an altitude of 3814 metres, in gorgeous surroundings of mountains, valleys and grasslands, filled with horses and yaks.
It was in this setting, that we spent an entire, beautiful, day walking out to a beautiful nunnery, walking amongst yaks and enjoying the weather.
It was, however, also here that we finally left on our horsetrek. We had asked for three full days on horseback, going by mountain lakes and a monastery, eating and sleeping with nomads on the way.
Reality though, rarely follows planning exactly, and in this matter, hardly at all.
We rode for about 7 hours, stopping for lunch (getting the horses to move was a challenge in itself, they constantly stopped to graze) on the way, yak yoghurt, yak butter, bread, biscuits and tsampa (a very varied Tibetan meal). Mette never named her horse, but mine was named Kejser (Danish for caesar), and I’m not sure whether or not that accounted for his behaviour (though I guess not).
It seemed very innocent, I was packing away my jacket, it was very hot, the horse was very calm, and had been so so far, I was always trailing behind Mette, our guide Pengtso and his son.
When suddenly, out of nowhere, the horse started jumping, running in circles and jumping in circles. As my horse was trailing behind, Pengtso was a fair bit off, so I held on for as long as I could, hoping to get some help, until eventually, I was thrown. Sadly; my foot got stuck in the stirrup, and the horse took off, dragging me along the stony ground, across rocks, tall grass, thorny bushes and whatever you find in the Tibetan highland, while I was unable to free my foot from the stirrup (leather boots aren’t very flexible).
But the horse wasn’t running straight, it was zigzagging, running in half circles and turning around on the spot, which also meant that I not only got dragged, but also trampled. After what felt like an eternity, the shock subsided and my first thought, went to my camera, that was being dragged as well, hitting as much things as me, if not more, so to save it, I threw it off.
Eventually (it felt like that), Pengtso caught up and grabbed a hold of the reins, but the horse threw him off too, he landed on me, and the horse continued on.
Heroically, Mette had gotten off her horse (fighting with her stirrup too), and had grabbed a hold of the saddle on my horse, long enough for Pengtso to properly grab a hold of the horse and stop it.
My back was covered in cuts from rocks, my ribs felt broken (painful breathing and movement), my vision turned all white and I had no balance, so I was supported by Mette and a Tibetan, walked to the ditch of the road and laid down, with a jacket covering my head from the sun; while Mette tried to organize a motorcycle back Tagong (the guide offered that I could ride back, but… bullshit). I also tried to figure out how my things fared. My camera was covered in dirt, the filter shattered and the autofocus broken on my favourite lens (or so I thought at the time), my sunglasses were surprisingly fine and except for a small hole, my clothes were fine, though incredibly dirty and covered in thorns.
A ride was found, so I got on the back of a motorcycle, for a very bumpy (and therefore painful) ride back to Tagong, where an x-ray showed that nothing was broken.
So with non-broken but excruciatingly painful ribs, a concussion and a back covered in cuts and bruises; I decided, that I wasn’t getting on a horse again in the immediate future, not when motorcycles seem that much safer.