London to Ho Chi Minh by train (and boat!): Day 28.
When I was young, I was obsessed with horses. Living in Wales, our neighbours had two horses in their garden, and I would spend hours with them, mesmerised by their gentle, wise nature. My parents, who of course couldn’t afford a horse, bought me a book about horses for Christmas and almost immediately, my favourite horse became Przewalski’s Horse.
Also known as the Takhi, these beautiful creatures are the only true wild horse that remain in the world today (all others are feral domestic horses), and the fact that the are here at all is miraculous. Hunting, capture, and competition with humans and their livestock led to them becoming extinct in the wild. At one point, only 13 horses were left in the entire world.
About the time I was eagerly reading my book of horses, the same zoos that had contributed to capturing the last wild horses decided to act. Breeding and reintroduction programmes were set up and through working closely with local populations, Przewalski’s Horse has returned to the Mongolian Steppe.
I think I loved this horse so much because it was both totally wild and extremely fragile. More than the Panda or the whales, this equine represented our relationship with nature to the ten-year-old me. I knew that if we could make amends for some of our greatest mistakes, we may yet again become at one (not at odds) with nature.
Walking among these wild-born horses today was a dream come true for me and the ten-year-old that still lives somewhere inside me. Not just because of the majestic takhi we saw but because of a glimpse, I hope, of our new relationship with The Wild.
Next stop: The Gobi Desert — at Khustai National Park.