Kyrgyzstan Do Not Horse Around : National Horse Games Performance

How many have read the book published on 24 November 1877 “Black Beauty by Anna Sewell” as a child, coming away with hopes in owning a black stallion? Horses has been known as sacred animals, it has been a symbol of status to the rich and brave, revered for its speed and regal beauty across continents and regions.

To the people of Central Asia it has been their way of life and it continues to this day. A child will learn to ride, even before they learn to walk some says. In particular the people of Kyrgyzstan has preserved this sacred tradition of horsemanship, keeping it alive through the annual National Horse Games Festival. Keeping tradition alive, educating those who have opted for life in the city and at the same time introducing their unique culture to the world. The festival takes place annually in the month of July. It is not just one game, but an interesting array.

You can hear people cheering, the smell of sweet grass across flat meadows and horses sweat intermingling with their riders reach your nostril as you approach the tense games that is taking place …..

ULAK TARTYSH …. that is how you play polo in Kyrgyzstan.

This is not your average polo game by the way. Called Ulak-Tartysh or kok-boru in Kyrgyz is a game of polo with a goat’s carcass as the ball weighing about 30kgs. Played by two teams with respective goal. There is only one rule, to get the highest score, all stunts are allowed. With a game and the rules at such, you can be sure the adrenaline rush even flows and affect the crowds which cheer-on their favourite team. The game is also popular among the other countries in Central Asia like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Against the beautiful backdrop of mountains and lake.

ER ENISH or known as Oodarysh …… a highly respected equestrian sport.

One of the sports featured in the World Nomad Games, Er Enish or some locals call it Oodarysh requires superb wrestling skill and the ultimate horsemanship. Er Enish needs flat, clear ground. The sport is played in a 30 m diameter circle, under the supervision of a mounted referee. Participants wear a costume that leaves them naked to the waist. Pretty much a no-holds-barred kind of competition, would say this makes it a main appeal. In the dangerous dance of movements and poses, horse battering and coward-punches – the winner takes all pride and triumph.

Involving skills. Wrestling from horseback.

KYZ KUMAY of wedding bells and declaration of love the Kyrgyzstan way.

Known as Kyz Kumay or Kyz Kuumai … it literally means “girl chasing”. Locals often refer it as the “kissing game”. Reflecting the wedding lore that it can’t be fulfilled if the bride is not chased by the husband-to-be. Turning this romantic game into an equestrian delight and sportsmanship shown by both man and woman. How is it played? Of course from a horseback, the man must be able to catch his bride signifying him winning and completing it by stealing a kiss while riding on a horse. But of he is not able to catch her once they cross the finishing line, the bride can then turn around and chase him while whipping him. This signifies her victory instead. Love and affection displayed in a very interesting manner!

TYIYN ENMEI normally saved for the last. Fancy collecting as many coins on horseback?

This competition naturally test the skills of the young jockeys or djigits known locally. Within a certain time frame, the would have to collect as many coins possible from the grassland floor. Sounds easy, but I assure you it is not as it takes skills to lean low, a good eyesight to collect coins on the floor while staying balance and making sure that they do not fall off while galloping with speed as there is a given timeframe.

Leaning low to collect coins from the ground.

After coming to know and witness these games held annually here in these parts of the world, you can’t help but to have newfound respect for the people of Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan. Isn’t this one of the reason Mongolian empire stretching far and wide, has been conquered from a warriors horseback?

Apple Vacations has put together an exotic 10 Days 8 Nights itinerary taking you across three countries in Central Asia. Kicking off the trip with flying into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. On the second day, you will be able to experience the National Horse Games Performance.


Call Hotline: 03 – 2141 8250 Apple Asia