Horse Racing, World Nomad Games

In a country that loves horses, it’s no surprise that racing played a large part in the World Nomad Games. There were four main types of races: 80 km, 22 km, pacer racing, and racing two-year-old horses.

The two longer races test a horse’s endurance, and the craft of jockeys. To win a 80 km race, riders must figure out how to keep their horse fresh until the end, which requires both an intimate understanding of one’s horse and of the race as a whole. For the 80 km race, jockeys must be over 18, but for the other, shorter races, jockeys can be as young as 12.

Pacer racing refers to a specific gait, where a horse’s legs move in sync, right forward leg with right back leg, and left forward leg with left back leg. Horses must keep this gait throughout the race, breaking for no more than three strides in a row over a course of 11 km. Jockeys must be experienced, too - pacing is an uncomfortable stride at high speeds, since the rider is jostled roughly from side to side.

Racing two-year-old horses is fairly self-explanatory: stallions between two and three years old are raced over 11 km by jockeys over the age of 12.

These races at the World Nomad Games were a time for Kyrgyz horses and riders to shine. Each race featured horses and jockeys from each province, plus representatives from other places, racing at the Hippodrome in Cholpon-Ata.