Contributed by Megan Richard
In 2019, horse-lover and adventurer Lara Prior-Palmer releases her first book, Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race.
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 re-creates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan. 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.
"Think the next Educated or Wild. Palmer’s memoir of beating the odds to become a horse champion is an inspiring saga of perseverance—and a classic underdog tale." —Entertainment Weekly
"Taking off on a horse into the Mongolian Steppe sounds like the bracing inverse to an overpopulated, busy urban life, but having the skills and grit to pull it off is another thing entirely. . . . Lara Prior-Palmer attempted the Mongol Derby not really knowing what she was getting into; she ended it knowing much more about herself, and a race champion besides." ―Estelle Tang, Elle
About the Author
Lara Prior-Palmer made headlines in 2013 when she became the first woman - and the youngest ever competitor - to win the Mongol Derby, the world's longest, toughest horse race. Born in London in 1994, Lara routinely packed and unpacked her bags as a child, despite having nowhere to go. She studied conceptual history and Farsi at Stanford University, and has lived and loved, for varying lengths of time, in California, England, Iran and Wales. Rough Magic is her first book.