Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

For fans of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, this is the extraordinary debut memoir of a young woman who traveled to Mongolia to compete in the world’s longest, toughest horse race, and emerged as its youngest and first-ever female winner.

At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”—an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her.

Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families.

Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their Jeeps.

Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.

Title:Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race Reviews

  • Diane S ?

    The race was said to be the most difficult in the world. Seven days spent traversing the Mongolian steppes on wild ponies. Not my cuppa, but fun to experience through someone else. Lara, at loose ends...

  • Will Byrnes

    Image from The Adventurists Many of the people I’ll meet on the steppe hold horses as sacred. There are more love songs about horses than about women in Mongolia—for example, ponies come last in...

  • karen

    NOW AVAILABLE!!!there is a 1,000 kilometer horse race in mongolia called the mongol derby with the reputation of being “the world’s longest, toughest horse race.” human riders mount a series of ...

  • Olive (abookolive)

    See my review on Open Letters Review:

  • Rebecca

    In 2013, when she was 19, Prior-Palmer won the Mongol Derby horse race: the first Briton and youngest competitor to do so. I thought her memoir couldn’t fail to be exciting, but I was wrong. A book ...

  • Rachel

    Rough Magic is a coming of age story, an interrogation of naked ambition, and a self-conscious meditation on English colonialism, all wrapped up in a thrilling tale of a 19-year-old girl entering and ...

  • Kasa Cotugno

    "Riding is a dance that demands each muscle in your body answer to an ever-shifting floor"Put aside the fact that the outcome of this race is known before Lara Prior-Palmer begins her story, here is p...

  • Sarah

    The Mongol Derby is touted as the world's most challenging horse race. Carried out over 1000km and 25 legs (with 25 different horses), 30 participants compete across the wild landscape of Mongolia in ...

  • Amanda

    This was a really interesting read about the youngest and first female winner of the Mongolian horse derby. I was sent a preview of the book through a marketing email and the preview... was the whole ...

  • Elizabeth Bober

    I have mixed feelings about this book. The setting and perspective are great: a memoir by the first female and youngest winner of the Mongol Derby, an endurance horse race. The writer’s style is hit...