The helmet project was one of Go Help’s first activities in Mongolia.
In 2008 Go Help supplied helmets to child jockeys right across Mongolia, including the winning rider of the biggest Naadam race!
In Mongolia, more than 30,000 child jockeys compete in horse races each year. Children riding horses in races is a popular tradition, but as horse racing has become more and more commercialised, injuries and fatalities have increased drastically – in part because races are now taking place at sub-zero temperatures.
Horses and horse riding are synonymous with nomadic life in Mongolia, and from the days of Chingis Khan conquering all before him, they have been immortalised by Mongolians as a most trusted and loyal friend. In a country where there are still only 100,000 cars registered, the horse still performs a vital mode of transport, as well as the focal point for all Mongolians during the Naadam Festival held in July.
“A Mongolian without a horse is like a bird without wings” – Mongolian Proverb.
Mongolian horses are strong, and more sturdy than the UK breeds, as well as being a few hands shorter in height. However they are the kings of endurance, and able to travel for many days across the steppe, where other breeds would not be able to. Jockeys are traditionally children, aged between 4-10 years old, and in a country where there are 100,000 races a year there many are injuries and fatalities. In recent years there have been around 15 deaths each year, which could easily be avoided if children wore helmets. This project aims to distribute riding helmets to children taking part in the horse racing events in the traditional Naadam festival in Mongolia.