Horse Games Festival in Kyrgyzstan
National Festival of the Horse Games is a vivid tourist show
Horses along with hunting dogs have always played a huge role in the daily life of the Kyrgyz people. They were essential not only in the hunt, but the true helpers in everyday family life. Even today the majority of the rural population in the country follow a semi-nomadic way of life. Almost everyone can ride a horse, and a variety of horse games that have been passed on from generation to generation, provide an excellent opportunity to show their riding skills, agility and prompt reaction.
Today you may see games such as:
At Chabysh – races for long distances. Fascinating contests that have racing up to 100km in which often young boys of age 10-15 are involved for playfulness of horses and sometimes saddles are removed for increasing the speed.
Ulak Tartysh – enchanting game in which two teams of riders ‘compete’ for the goat carcass. Many are bewitched by the moment when the riders almost droop down and gets 30 kilo carcass while riding. Then the team should drop the carcass to the slope with an improvised ring.
Kurosh – wrestling on horses, when riders should get the other rider down the horse by pushing and seizing.
Oodarysh - another type of wrestling where riders should get the other one off the horse without using hands. You can win only if you can skillfully ride a horse that will push the other rider, maybe even with his horse.
Kyz Kumay – beautiful game, that is still hard to call a game. The rider should catch the girl-rider and then he will be awarded with a kiss.
Tiyin Enmey – a game where the rider tries to pick up coins from ground while riding.
The dates of folk games fell outside the normal “tourist season” as it was not intended as a festival for tourists but rather as a festival for local people. Majority of the participants are the people working in the mountains, who take cattle to one of the mountain jailoos (pasture) for the summertime. When the herd is down to the lower meadows, preparation for horse games starts.