Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A vivid Mongolian horse race

Let the wild rumpus begin
There are three main sports Mongolians celebrate during their national holiday of Naadam, wrestling, archery and horse racing. Naadam is celebrated for three days from July 11-14.

In smaller communities around Mongolia, there are preliminary competitions to qualify for Naadam in the bigger venues like Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and the major population centers. 
Two monks were there to bless the occasion

There were also judges and other race organizers milling around.
A judge

We stumbled on to a local horse racing competition at Jargalgalant between Darkhan and Erdenet. 

We were lucky to see this. There is no way the main race at Naadam could be any better than this. I have combined some of Elder Stewart's photographs with my own to capture this unique Mongolian experience.

This wasn't just a qualifying race but a community celebration. Among the local residents, it established bragging rights for the next year.
                  Community celebration

Traditionally the jockeys have been as young as 5 and as old as 12. The lighter the jockey, the better the advantage. Last year two boys died at Naadam in Ulaanbaatar. The government changed the rules about the age limits to be from 9 - 12. This was long overdue.

This local race seemed to have many riders younger than 9, a little confusing. However I am sure the main races will have strict enforcement.

                                 The riders

Jockey carrying his saddle

The setting was on a hillside overlooking the steppes. Viewers could watch the start of the race from above and also the finish line. The race was 10 kilometers. After the race, the horse are cooled off and the sweat removed. We didn't stay for the award presentation.

                            The setting
Jargalgalant is beyond the crest on the hillside

Cars coming up the hill to get a better view
We were able to see the cooling off of horses after the race. What gorgeous animals!
Cooling off the race horses

                       The winners and losers



The winner's family - the winner's pink jersey made him easy to spot.
A father consoling his son

The race to the finish line 
Six horses in the home stretch
The trailing horses - there must have been 50 entries in the race

Coming to the finish line
The race is over - time to go home

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I want to see this kind of races in the future. But for now, I watch races at Santa Ana Park Philippines.