Excerpt from the December 2017 issue of Heels Down Magazine.
By Caroline Culbertson
Leslie Bateman (nee Wylie) has a steadfast and ever-growing fan club. But it’s not because she’s a top show jumper or sets records in dressage. Instead, she captivated horse enthusiasts across the country and beyond when she announced that she’d be stepping away from the comforts of her home in Knoxville, Tenn., to compete in a 620-mile race across Mongolia on feral ponies, with nothing more than a saddle bag to case her belongings.
The Mongol Derby, dubbed the “longest and toughest horse race in the world”, recreated Genghis Khan’s postal system, bringing together 40 competitors from across the world to test their horsemanship, survival skills, and mental and physical fortitude.
“It was an accident, really,” recalls the 36-year-old editor of Eventing Nation and founder of Horse Nation and Jumper Nation. “I’d followed the race from afar over the years and had done write-ups about for Horse Nation. One day on my weekly Horses in the Morning podcast segment, the host Glenn (Hebert) joked that I ought to do the race. It must have been a slow news day because I filled out an application on a whim.”
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