Friday, April 9, 2010

The Game of Ulak tartysh (Uloq-kupkari)

The riders in this fast-paced game are remarkable horsemen and fierce competitors.

Traditionally after the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan starts the season for one of the most enthralling of all equestrian sports known as Ulak tartysh (called Buzkashi in Tajik). A game can involes hundreds of horsemen. The match usually starts around 10 or 11 am and lasts until sundown at 5 or 6pm. The winning team receives a prize, not necessarily money, often a carpet or a cup as a reward for their win.

Competitions throughout Central Asia gather thousands of people and can cause wildly boiling emotions.

The riders in this fast-paced game are really remarkable horsemen and fierce competitors. They and their horses are extraordinarily skillful, turning amazing riding maneuvers and a repertoire of hand-held armaments to either aid or attack.

Two mounted teams often battle for the headless body of a sheep, calf or goat. To score a rider grabs the goat or calf carcass off another player or from the ground usually while riding a horse at full gallop, and then gets it clear of the other players then take it around a flag or marker at one end of the field, then throw it into a target circle or vat at the other.

The competition is typically fierce, with fighting erupting between riders over the carcass. Players may use any force short of tripping the horse in order to thwart scoring attempts and to try and steal the carcass away. As well its difficult to carry the carcass as it is pretty heavy inside filled up with wet salt and can becomes easily 40- 50 kg.

To protect themselves against the other players' whips and boots riders usually wear heavy clothing and head covers (usually a thick fur hat or tank cap).

The horses are usually specially bred and trained for the game and possess a lot of courage and are often devoted to their owners. Mostly they are stallions either pure or half pure Karabair breed (with some mongolian bloodlines or that of the Turkmen Akhal Tekke).

Uzbekistan Post: Karabair Stamp

Legend says that Genghis Khan's hordes played Buzkashi to refine their horsemanship skills. At its roots, it is also linked to the now elitist game of polo.

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