Want to learn the skills you need to take on the Mongol Derby?

The Mongol Derby Academy is designed to give you the skills you need to compete in and complete the Mongol Derby. It’s primarily aimed at riders who are interested in finding out more about the Mongol Derby and testing their skills. Bob Long, winner of the 2019 Mongol Derby, completed the Academy, an experience that could have given him the edge.

Join The Academy


1. Overview

"Preparation trumps youth"
2019 Academy Graduate & Mongol Derby winner - Bob Long
The Mongol Derby Academy 2024 will take place from 25th July 2024 to 31st July 2024.

The ultimate in training experiences, the Mongol Derby Academy takes place over seven days in the Mongolian Steppe. You will learn about each major aspect of the famous race, partaking in a long distance ride equivalent to a couple of legs of the race itself and culminating in the Mongol Derby Herder Trials, a phenomenal celebration of traditional horsemanship in Mongolia. The camp stands alone as a unique equine experience for anyone who wants to experience Mongolian culture, the incredible semi-wild horses and training legs of the race in a controlled environment.

This is a comprehensive but massively enjoyable training course, designed to give you everything you need to be ready to tackle the Mongol Derby. The course is designed as an introduction to the fundamentals of the Mongol Derby. You will learn how to change horses efficiently at horse stations while going through Mongol Derby vet checks, you’ll know what to expect on the first leg, and gain an understanding of the terrain, the horses, and the culture. You'll go through extensive navigational training using a Garmin GPS, going over everything from how to read and use a topographical map, to understanding how to operate the GPS itself. Once through the Academy, you will be prepared to take on the race itself.

    To break it down in a little more detail, we will be covering:

  • Handling and riding the mighty Mongolian horse.
  • Changing horses efficiently at horse stations.
  • Camping out and hobbling your horse on the steppe.
  • Navigation skills in the Mongolian steppe.
  • How to use your equipment to maximise performance.
  • Testing your personal equipment and receiving feedback on how best to pack for the race.
  • Mongolian cultural etiquette, customs on the steppe and in relation to horses.

  • Derby medics will also be on hand to look after you, while Derby vets will be out in the field running vet checks according to the race rules and giving you feedback on how to present your steeds.
Learn to navigate
Understand the vet protocols

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2. Who is the Academy for?

Wondering if you're ready to take on the race?

For some it will be the perfect test to find out if the Mongol Derby is you. Those who successfully complete the Academy will be offered a place in a future Derby edition.

Prepping for a future race?

For riders lining up to tackle a future Derby the training camp is a great way to build confidence and experience for the race to come. There is nothing quite like it for testing your skills, equipment and stamina ahead of taking on one of the toughest horse races on the planet.

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3. What's included?

You will need to get yourself to Mongolia but after that, we've got you covered:

  • Expert training following the Mongol Derby Academy syllabus to immerse you into the world of the longest and toughest horse races on the planet.
  • "Classroom" time to learn about navigation, local riding technique and medical and veterinary protocols.
  • A variety of Mongolian horses including all tack and Mongol Derby custom design saddles.
  • A personal satellite tracking device for tracking you during training rides, including an emergency SOS function.
  • Equine vets on hand contributing to training and ensuring horse welfare.
  • Expert wilderness medic on site for emergencies.
  • One night of accommodation in Ulaanbaatar on the first night.
  • Transfers to and from Ulaanbaatar to the Academy camp.
  • Accommodation at the Academy camp in shared gers.
  • All meals, soft drinks and some alcoholic drinks.

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4. The Schedule

  • Day 1 - Ulaanbaater

    Meet Up

    Pre-Academy meet up - we'll meet in Ulaanbaatar for an evening meal and to introduce ourselves.

    After a transfer from Ulaanbaatar to the Mongol Derby start camp on the steppe, the training starts straight away with a half day orientation.

  • Day 2 - Ulaanbaatar - Academy Camp

    Travel and Arientation

    Early transfer from Ulaanbaatar to start camp for orientation on site and a half day of training, meeting the Academy camp crew and getting your tack.

  • Days 3 to 4


    Training begins in earnest - you will cover navigation, tech, horsemanship, medical, veterinary, kit/gear, wilderness survival and Mongolian steppe culture. Classroom time will be interspersed with test rides to prepare you for the longer, multi-horse ride on day 5.

  • Day 5

    Race Day Simulation

    Multi-horse station ride and race day simulation - you’ve made it through all we could throw at you thus far. Now you’ll take all those newly learned skills and see what it’s like riding ‘a day in the Mongol Derby’. You’ll tack up early, just as you would on the Derby itself, and will be riding all day, making it through three horse changes/vet checks to be back in time for dinner at basecamp.

  • Day 6

    Herder Trials

    Today will arguably be one of the most epic days of your lives. You’ll be riding to The Herder Trials, where our Mongol Derby families will have appointed one champion from each of their ranks to take part in various traditional horsemanship competitions. The winner will earn a sponsored spot to our Gaucho Derby Academy in Argentina and live alongside the Gauchos in a cultural/horsemanship exchange. This will be followed up by the Grand Finale, awards ceremony and lots of live music and dancing.

  • Day 7

    Back to Ulaanbaatar

    Breakfast and transfer back to Ulaanbaatar.

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5. The Crew

The training camp is run by Maggie Pattinson. Aside from being Chef d’Equipe of the England home international endurance squad, Maggie has been Head of Training, an Event Manager and Race Referee on the Mongol Derby for the last 12 years.

Maggie has a lifetime’s equestrian experience from dressage to racing, having ridden, crewed and trained at international level. More significantly, she's been involved in endurance riding for about 20 years.

Official Mongol Derby medics, vets and crew will be on hand to look after you and the horses. They will be dedicated to giving you all the skills you need to take on, and perhaps even win, the beast itself.

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6. How much does all this cost?


2024: $5,500 (USD)
2025: $6,000 (USD)
2026: $6,500 (USD)
2027: $7,000 (USD)

Academy registration opens up to a couple of years in advance to allow time for training, fundraising and sponsorship. The extended timeline means we have to include an option to charge a small top up fee in case something unexpected happens. We call this the 'Reserve Fee'.

This ‘Reserve Fee’ is only charged if it’s absolutely necessary due to unforeseen increases in costs outside our control. We’ll do everything in our power to avoid triggering it. If it is needed, we will keep it as low as possible. It’s capped at a maximum of 10% of your entry fee but if we get our way it will be a nice, round zero.

We’ll cover this in more detail during your interview and if you’re successful in bagging a place we’ll include further information in your Academy Rider Handbook.


This includes the first night in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar, transport to and from the Academy camp, all your food and drink, medical and veterinary support for the duration of training, the camp itself, horses, tack, tech gear, our phenomenal crew headed up by Maggie Pattinson, access to The Herder Trials - a truly unique finale to the camp - and a closing party and awards ceremony to wrap up your week.

You will just then need to add to that the cost of you getting to Mongolia.

You don't have to pay all of this at once - you will be able to spread the cost over monthly instalments if you prefer.

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7. How do I get to take part?

The spots on the Academy are really limited at the moment. We are working on expanding the number of Academies we can hold in any given year, but we want to keep relatively small and intimate so the training can all be really personal. So if you're keen follow the link below to grab a spot while they last.

We ask you to give us a statement about your riding skills. We want to open the Academies up to as many people as we can, but you do need to be able to ride and be comfortable around horses to get the most out of the experience. These are not tame riding school ponies, but semi-wild. You need to be able to handle spirited beasts.

We'll give you a call to talk it all through and, assuming all goes to plan, we'll send you the link to sign up and the spot will be all yours.

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