We arrived on the plains and stayed in a rustic ger camp
by a beautiful river.
They came to our camp,
holding their eagles with heavy-duty gloves.
One eagle stretched his wings.
This 11-year-old girl was the youngest competitor,
along with her brother,
but the competition was not restricted to young riders.
The winner of last year’s festival arrived
and showed her winner’s smile.
His armrest was made of a deer antler.
These two put their heads together.
A senior competitor was well-dressed to protect from the windy cold
and a very young rider joined in the camel race.
During the Golden Eagle Competition, his eagle flew
down from the hill to catch the prey
and bring it to his handler.
Here, the rider had to catch the cap on the ground mid-gallop.
Two riders had to compete for this beheaded sheep.
They defied the laws of gravity
and were pulled almost to the ground,
but held on with all their might.
It was a tough fight
that could last a while.
When I had the chance to hold an eagle, I was proud.
She smiled and said, “Jacques have him open his wings!”
and the eagle did.
-Photos and text by 8-time WT adventurer Jacques Lagarde, Wild Mongolia