A WIDE VARIETY OF HORSE GAMES

 

Horsemanship has been an important part of Central Asia culture for thousands of years. To hone their skills local riders participate in a variety of games. The most famous is a competitive field sport that can be best described as a cross between rugby and polo, though instead of a ball players use a dead goat. In Kyrgyzstan this sport is called Ulak Tartysh. The objective is to carry the headless, hoofless animal across the field and throw it into a hole for points. After the game the winning team cooks the goat and shares it with the losing team.

 

Another game on display is a type of horse wrestling called Eer Odarysh. Riders remove their shirts and wear a sash tied around their waist. Grabbing each other's sash the riders must pull their opponent off the horse. Like Ulak Tartysh, Eer Odarysh not only displays the skill of riders, but also the skill of their horses. It takes several years to train horses to respond to commands, and remain calm and focused during these intense games. Next, men and women riders demonstrate a chase that is akin to the Krygyz tradition of bride kidnapping. The man chases down the woman and attempts to kiss her while she rides away on a horse of her own. The festival also includes demonstrations of traditional music, dance and felt making. After all the festivities end, tourists are welcome to attend a large party with locals. Music, dance and drinking round out the evening for an excellent time.