Widely regarded by historians as the greatest conqueror of all time, in a span of just 25 years, Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, conquered an area larger and with a greater population than the Romans managed over the course of four centuries. While his success was in no small part due to his unparalleled leadership, at his disposal were the world's best riders on the world's best horses.
Tapping into the nation’s heritage, Sergelen Pulev , Secretary general of the Federation of Mongolian Horse Racing Sport and Trainers (FMHRST), along with the federation’s Chairman Mr M.Enkhbold, had a dream to "make the Mongolians horses known to the rest of the world" and most of all to "reunite all the Mongolians people for a world record attempt to portray the message that if the Mongolians are united they can achieve anything".
Guinness World Records adjudicator Lucia Sinigagliesi (left) with Sergelen Purev, Secretary General of FMHRST
The federation decided to attempt the Guinness World Records title for the largest parade of horses, committing to bring together more than 8,000 horses and riders to surpass the current record – a staggering figure of 7,895 set in Colombia in 2006.
A national campaign was launched via TV and press, inviting citizens to converge on the capital city of Ulan Batar on 9 August 2013 with their horses. The location chosen for the event would be Khui Doloon Khudan, an open space traditionally used for horse races.
As with all Guinness World Records titles, an accurate method of counting the participants is paramount, therefore hundreds of supervisors, four independent witnesses and a professional auditing firm were appointed on site to verify the correct execution of the record guidelines and confirm the count.
On the day of the record attempt, the sun was shining on the open green expanse of land, and in a wonderful and colourful expression of Mongolian culture, people came from every single one of the nation’s 21 provinces to show their horses to the world.
Many riders were children, with the youngest participant aged 2 years and 8 months, while the parade also included several elderly people, with the oldest aged 90 years old.
An 80-year-old woman who lives alone in a farm 50 km away from the attempt location rode all the way with her horse to be part of the attempt after hearing about the event on TV.
When the record attempt started, a river of colours flowed through the starting post. The final number of horsemen and women recorded was 11,125, setting a new and very well deserved Guinness World Records title.
Largest horse parade
This wasn't the end of the record-breaking however. Mr Sergelen Purev also wanted to see Mongolia recognised for its traditional horse races, and therefore set a second goal of attempting another world record for the most runners in a horse race. This time, the record to break was 228 runners, set in Bayanwula, Xiwuzhumuqinqi, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China on 25 July 2005. With no time to waste, Purey announced that the following day would see the horse-racing record attempt challenged.
The next morning, an impressive 4,279 participants converged on the plains with their horses, once again representing every corner of the country. As before, most of the riders were children – the youngest being 7 years old – but the seniors were also well represented, with the oldest aged 79 years.
As the race began, a cloud of dust and excitement filled the air. "It looked amazing," said one of the witnesses. "It seems like a tsunami had arrived!"
Pictured at the top of the page, the race covered a total distance of 18 km (11.18 mi). In total, 30 runners were deducted from the final total as they did not finish the race course, with the first horse crossing the finish line in a time of 24 minutes and 30.42 seconds. The final recorded number of riders for the attempt was 4,249 participants.
There is a traditional saying in Mongolia: "A Mongol without a horse is like a Bird without the wings", so congratulations to the Mongolian people who, united, made it into the history of Guinness World Records in such a fitting manner.