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Kelsey does the Mongol Derby

$3,325 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 10 months
Hey there! My name is Kelsey Eliot. For those of you who don’t know me, you should know I have a bit of an independent streak. I don’t like to be told what to do. I’m terrible at planning and I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m a big fan of big adventures, cold beers, and I love horses.

I’ve been trail riding since I was about 8 and from there my passion has grown. A few years ago I took a job in Iceland for a winter and guided riding tours. I’ve played arena polo for the past three winters. Recently I participated in my first 25 mile endurance race, which left we wanting more. Way more.

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And now...I’m going to compete in the Mongol Derby 2019.

When I applied to do this, I did so on a whim. I had seen updates on Facebook from my friends at Painted Bar Stables, cheering on local veterinarian Pam Karner as she competed in the 2018 race. Curious to know more, I checked out the race website

They got me hook, line, and sinker. Each line I read gave me chills. I decided in that moment that I HAD to do this race, and I would apply every year until my application was accepted. Mind you, I never really expected to be accepted. I thought it was a bit of a pipe dream.

So imagine my surprise when I got the call that I was accepted to participate in the upcoming Mongol Derby in August 2019—one of only about 40 people who get to participate each year.

Now, some of you may be asking, “well Kelsey, what IS the Mongol Derby?” The Mongol Derby is a 1000km (621mi) horse race through Mongolia. On semi-feral horses. With no marked trail.

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This is obviously the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever had. Polo and the Icelandic Winter have nothin’ on this.

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So, down to why I need your help: I’m actually paying to participate in this crazy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

I know. Like I said... this is obviously the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever had. 

What is the entry fee, and what does it cover?

The entry fee is $14,000, and covers a lot of important things, including horse and human medical care, a crew of nearly 200 staff to facilitate the race, a custom saddle, GPS tracking, and a few days of training. Additionally, I will need to purchase flights and gear. I’ve got $5,000 so far, but I need your help to make it to Mongolia!

Any funds raised in excess of my goal will be donated to Work to Ride, a Philadelphia-based program that brings polo and other equestrian sports to disadvantaged urban youth. You can learn more about their amazing program on their website !

So what do you get for helping me?

Any donation: My undying gratitude & regular updates on my training and progress

$25 & Up: Above, plus a postcard from Mongolia

$100 & Up: Above, plus a Mongolian gift.

$200 & Up: Above, plus original artwork by me! 

Your support means the world to me. Thank you...let’s get me to Mongolia!

Follow my path to the derby on instagram: @kelseydoesthederby 
On facebook: Kelsey does the Derby
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In one month, I will be boarding a plane to Mongolia to embark upon what will be one of the most ridiculous adventures of my life!

It’s hard to believe that the Mongol Derby is almost here. I’ve worked hard over the last year, ridden dozens of horses and many, many miles. I’ve had tons of fun, met so many wonderful people, and learned a lot about myself and my horsemanship. I can’t wait to put everything I have worked on to the test.

Keep your eyes peeled. Soon I will be sharing details on how you can track me during the race and get updates on my progress and well-being.

In the meantime, I’ll keep riding and preparing as best I can in the limited time I have left, and you can keep supporting me by sharing my story with others! Thank you all so much for getting me this far.
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Sorry that updates have been minimal the last month—I have been traveling!

At the start of May, I headed south with Painted Bar Stables to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC for the Biltmore Endurance Challenge. What a fantastic trip it was! We rode the beautiful trails at Biltmore as well as several other stunning trail systems in the area.

In total I rode over 100 miles on this trip, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot compared to the Mongol Derby, it’s no small distance! I am pleased to report that I had no muscle soreness at all and I’m feeling confident about my training and my riding kit.

The crowning achievement for our adventure was the 25 mile endurance ride that the entire trip was centered around. I rode Merlin from Painted Bar, a quarter horse Belgian cross. He is an absolute machine, and together he and I passed Arabian after Arabian to take 6th place in a field of over 60 riders!

I had the best time on this trip and I’m definitely looking forward to next year! But first to tackle the Mongol Derby...
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Yesterday was awesome!

Fourteen of us set out for an all day ride in the forest at Sugar Hill, hosted by Painted Bar Stables. Erika nailed it with the horse/rider combinations—everyone was on a mount that they clicked with. We covered fifteen miles.

It was especially fun because I got to meet Claire Taberski, who is riding in the 2020 Mongol Derby! She fit right into our organized chaos.

I’m feeling pretty good about my training right now. 15 miles over 6 hours was a walk in the park, and I was definitely not done for the day. Obviously the derby is quite a bit more than 15 miles but I’ll take every small victory I can!
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Cowboy sure is lucky he’s so darn cute...he decided I needed to rub some dirt on my new shirt!

I had a small equine-assisted gravity check with him on our ride today, the first one in a while. We definitely got started too quickly—normally I do 15-20 minutes of smaller scale circles with him before we do anything else. Today I decided to go straight to hill work. The first lap up the hill was nice and controlled. The second lap up the hill...well, as I said. I had an equine-assisted gravity check. Can confirm, gravity is still working.

It definitely knocked the wind out of me which wasn’t the best feeling in I’m the world, and once I got back to him he was hard to get settled. We did some ground work instead, ending with some bending, which he is especially good at.

Tomorrow I will take it slower!
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$3,325 of $15,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 10 months
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