Jessie Dowling on the Mongolian Steppe. Kathy Gabriel photo

A Midcoast dairy farmer last week finished the Mongol Derby, the longest horse race in the world, coming in a respectable 13th in a group of 44 contestants from around the globe.

Jessie Dowling, 42, owner of Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield, said horses have always been her passion and the Mongol Derby was a personal goal she had set for herself. After years of training with her horses, Maggie and Jellybean, Dowling signed up for the elite race that started on Aug. 2, where she spent 10 days riding 29 different horses across 620 miles the vast, isolated grasslands of the Mongolian Steppe.

Dowling said the race went smoothly because she felt prepared. She said the highlight was getting to know each of the horses she rode and having a “snuggle” at the end of the day.

“Mongolian horses are absolutely amazing and were by far the best part of going to Mongolia,” she said. “I’m not sure if words can describe the feeling of being out on the open steppe. There is nothing that compares to galloping for 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) at a time with the wind in your face riding the most sure-footed, fast, hard-working steed that can be found.”

Jessie Dowling enjoying food and drink in a Mongolian family home. Kathy Gabriel photo

Dowling said the weather remained hot and dry for the most part, except for occasional downpours of “biblical proportions.” Mongolian families living along the race route opened their homes to riders, providing them with food and a place to stay each night.

“Families are incredibly kind and welcoming, as hospitality is a huge part of steppe culture,” she said.

After returning to Maine at the end of the month, Dowling said she will jump back into work mode and prepare the Fuzzy Udder Creamery for the Maine Cheese Festival and the Common Ground Fair.

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