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My name is Cholpon. I grew up in a small town of Naryn in the south-eastern part of Kyrgyzstan. From the early ages my passion was to travel and discover new places. I enjoyed showing around to my friends and teachers who came from abroad to teach English. Further I entered the University to study linguistics but to connect my life with tourism it was not enough. Therefore I went through special courses of guiding by local mentors in Bishkek who run tourist agencies. This is how I got involved into this world of adventures and new experiences.
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Horses in Kyrgyz culture


Horses in Kyrgyz culture

Horses in Kyrgyz culture

Popular wisdom says: "The horse is the wings of man."

Hello everybody! I prepared a very interesting topic about the value of horses in Kyrgyz culture. You probably know that horses play an important role in the life of every person. During your tour in Kyrgyzstan you will have the opportunity to get to know them better and find out what they are.
Improvising poets and storytellers of epics sang a winged, golden-maned, swift creature in their poems as well as fairy tale and glorified it in songs and epics. In the distant past, the horse made it possible for the Kyrgyz to roam the mountain pastures, transport home belongings, monitor livestock, and keep in touch with settlements. The Kyrgyz used it in military campaigns and battles, and later, with the development of agriculture, as a draft force. Over time, the horse for the Kyrgyz becomes a participant in sporting events and sports, and in this he has a worthy place.
Historically, Kyrgyz heavenly horses have always had lightness and good coordination of movement in the mountains, they are extremely hardy and unpretentious to feed, are not very susceptible to sudden changes in weather, and are able to withstand long transitions under the saddle.
The true friendship of a horse and a man is glorified in the heroic epic "Manas the Magnanimous": "Mighty Manas" is like a tower made of silver. The snow-white horse of Ak-Kul carries a hero along the peaks, and it seems that it is not the horse that rushes, but the bird flies over the sharp peaks of the mountains. "
National equestrian games, such as long-distance horse racing (at-chabysh), amblers running (jorgo salysh), catching up with a girl (kyz-kumai), horsemen’s fight for the goat’s carcass (ulak-tartysh) and others are becoming increasingly popular. I will talk about some of them.

At-chabysh is the oldest and most common sport. For racing, frisky and hardy horses are selected that can withstand long distances. Experienced trainers usually prepare foals for big jumps from the age of one year (tai chabysh), train them and already in a year and a half arrange races (kunan chabysh). When animals reach the age of three, they are allowed to compete.
At-chabysh used to be arranged for various reasons, most often for a holiday or commemoration. The winner received jewels and cattle as a reward. Horses of all breeds and ages participated in the races. Each trainer (sayapker) in his own way prepared a horse for performances. There were experts (synchy) who, by the fatness of the horse, muscles, blood vessels, breathing, gait, accurately determined the willingness of a horse to compete. Horse racing was arranged at a distance of 53 miles, later 100 kilometers. Moreover, boys 10–13 years old, sometimes bareback, were often riders. According to modern rules, horses of any breed from three years and older with riders at least 13 years old are allowed to race. The distance in each case is determined by the judges, but is limited to 4-50 kilometers.

Jorgo-salysh (run of amblers). Amble is an accelerated gait at two paces, when the legs of the animal rise and fall to the ground in pairs. The horse, as it were, is shifting from one side to the other, only two blows of hooves are heard. The amble is faster than a lynx, and often a field gallop. Fans of this sport consider jorgo a high dignity of a riding horse. It demonstrates not only running speed and endurance, but also surprisingly smooth, not shaking running.
The Kyrgyz people have many sayings and proverbs about amblers: "Do not be a companion to someone who rides a pacifier", "If you have a day of life, half a day go by a pacifier" and others.
Competitions for running amblers are now held on high mountain pastures (jailoo) and on racetracks. They are allowed adult riders and adolescents with sufficient skill in running horses.

Ulak-tyrtysh or Kok-boru (the struggle of riders for the carcass of a goat) is a very common equestrian game of the Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek and Karakalpak peoples. The phrase "kok boru" in Russian means "gray wolf". The history of this peculiar game goes back centuries. Apparently, it arose in those distant times when, in deserted steppes and mountains of Kyrgyzstan, herds of animals grazed in the open air in winter and summer, without premises and feeding, so wolves often attacked cattle and brought people many disasters.
Due to the lack of firearms, livestock breeders could not deal with the wolves on the spot. Courageous dzhigits (youngers) on frisky and hardy horses staged their pursuit until they drove them half to death, beat them with sticks, reeds, picked them up from the ground, taking them from each other.
Later, in a more settled way of life, the kok-boru was replaced by ulak-tartysh, which turned into a national type of equestrian game − the struggle of riders for the carcass of a goat.
At present, many equestrian games in Kyrgyzstan, retaining their color and identity, have crossed national borders and have become the country's favorite competitions of strong, courageous and brave horse-drawn horsemen.
Two teams from an equal number of riders participate in ulak-tartysh. A playground 200-400 meters long, 100-150 meters wide is placed on level ground. Opposite sides are indicated by flags and are conditionally referred to as gates up to 10 meters wide. A circle (mara) with a diameter of 6 meters is marked in the center of the playground, where before the start of the competition they put the carcass of a goat without a head and with limbs cut off (ulak). The weight of the carcass is 30-40 kilograms, and sometimes more.
At the judge’s signal, the captains go to the mara, greet each other and the struggle for the carcass of a goat begins. As soon as the ulak is raised, all the other team members enter the fight. The winner is the team that scored the ulak at the opponent’s goal the most.
Competitors are allowed to raise the ulak from anywhere inside the field, take it away from the opponent, hand it over or transfer it to teammates, let it go, take it under its feet, hold it in its hands, put it on the saddle, hold it on the side or between the legs of the horse, help the partners to ride it and to throw him into the opponent’s goal. When a rider or a horse falls, the game is stopped and resumed after eliminating the cause of the stop. If the players violate the sideline, an out is declared, after which the ulak is returned to the track and the game is resumed from that moment.
During the competition, it is forbidden to raise the horse on its hind legs, to beat the opponent’s horse with the chest, to hold it by the reins, to remove the bridle, to grab the opponent’s hands or belt, to strike other riders and horses with his hand, foot, stirrups, reptile and reins, to tie the ulak to the saddle, put your horse across the galloping, shout or engage in conversation, continue the fight after the ulak is thrown into the opponent’s goal.

Oodarysh (the struggle of two horsemen). It is also a very popular equestrian sport. Two riders try to pull each other off the horse. It is allowed to dump the opponent along with the horse.
According to the developed and approved rules, the competition for the gift is held in four weight categories, they are private and private-team. The age of participants is from 19 years and older. The size of the area is 40 square meters. It takes 10 minutes to fight. The victory is awarded to the rider if he pulled or knocked down an opponent with a horse (the latter must touch the ground with any part of the body). Victory by points is awarded for advantages in the battle, for the least number of comments received during the battle.
It is allowed to grab the opponent by the sash and hands, by the body, rest with his knees or feet against the body of the opponent's horse.
It is forbidden to strike the opponent or his horse by any means, to take on the head, neck, hair, face of the opponent and the equipment of his horse, twist his fingers, use all sorts of counter-techniques, put his hands under the opponent’s legs and under his stirrup (tramp) saddles, throw an occasion on the opponent’s hands and head.

Tyiyn enmey (getting a coin from the ground). The total length of the distance from the starting position to the finish is not more than 100 meters, the participant, upon the judge’s call, drives up to the start line. At 50-60 meters from the start line, on a clean and even, but indicated by light sand or sawdust place tyiyn − a coin, which should be raised by the participant, who left at the gait after the signal of a judge, not lower. In the case of switching to a gait or stopping a horse at the moment of getting a coin, the result is not counted, and the race is not repeated.
Time is fixed from start to finish. In the case of a fall, the rider must again ride a horse and ride to the finish line, otherwise he will be taken out of the game. Each participant is allowed three races. Victory is awarded to the one who raises a coin more times.

Kyz-kumai (catch up with a girl). In the past, the game was a wedding custom. The game was attended by the groom, bride and daughter-in-law − jenna, who tried to help the girl ride away from the young man, to prevent him from catching up with her. Friends of the bride and friends of the groom also participated in the game.
According to the conditions of the game, the bride was given the best horse, and she started the race first, receiving a handicap in the distance (handicap is a reduced distance for the weak). The groom had to catch up with the bride, by this he proved not only his love for her, but also secured the right to marry. Because of the worst horse, the groom did not always succeed in catching up with the girl. But the bride did not reject the groom and the wedding was not canceled.
This national traditional game is often held during the holidays on the green lawns of Jailoo or at racetracks. Several couples (rider and horsewoman) participate in national costumes, who know the rules well and manage the horse perfectly. The distance is set by the organizers, but no more than 1,000 meters are recommended.
Considering the tradition, the girl is given a 20 meter handicap. Dzhigit on horseback tries to catch up and kiss the girl on a gallop or with her headgear lightly touch her, thereby letting him know about his victory. On the way back, the girl catches up with a dzhigit, if she catches up, then takes off his headgear, by this she gives to know about her victory.
The competition has a personal-team character, 2-3 pairs act on each team. The assessment takes into account the skill of controlling a horse, its agility at a distance, the spectacular appearance and colorfulness of a rider's costume. Since 1958, kyz-kumai has been included in the program of the All-Union Equestrian Competitions of the USSR.

Kyz-zarysh, kelin-zarysh (horse racing girls and new married girls) − are held on holidays, at celebrations.
From childhood, a Kyrgyz woman knows how to ride a horse. In the conditions of highlands, severe winters, deep snows, where the transition with the flock takes place along the steep slopes of the mountains, through stormy rivers, a horse cannot be dispensed with. Therefore, equestrian sport Kyz-zharysh, kelin-zharysh has adopted a very wide scope and is included in the program of any competitions, holidays, national celebrations. In this sport, a rider needs a firm fit in the saddle and the ability to steer a horse well.
Only by headgear can we distinguish how many girls are involved in the races and how many are young. Girls put on tops or tebets − girls' hats with a wide rim of marten fur. Young women put on beautiful scarves.
The distance at which the races take place is usually 2-4 kilometers.
More than once, such wonderful Kyrgyz riders as Tatyana Rysalieva, Gulya Nurdavletova, Zoya Mazhitova, Vera Mokryakova and many others delighted the audience at the all-Union and republican competitions.

Zhamba − Atmay (shooting at a target from horse to gallop). Jambas are an ingot of silver or other jewel tied to a thread and suspended as a prize from a slanted pole. According to the conditions of the game, its participant from a horse to the gallop must break the thread and shoot down the jamba with a shot from a weapon. This is one of the oldest types of competitions, widespread among the Kyrgyz people. They used to shoot from a bow. Over time, the bow was replaced by a firearm.

Hunting with a golden eagle or a falcon is also a traditional national sport. In order to accustom these wild birds of prey to serve a trainer, you need to know their character, habits, opportunities that they possess.
Currently, many hunters in Kyrgyzstan are engaged in hunting with golden eagles for wolves and foxes, with a falcon for hares and pheasants. One of the largest competitions in national sports was the first sports contest of the Kyrgyz Republic, held in 1997. It included competitions in burkut-fat. This sport characterizes the Kyrgyz as excellent hunters. Participants of the competition showed their superior skills in bird management, which, in general, are very difficult to train.
Over 25 years of sovereignty in the republic, the game of Alchik Ordo, the Kuresh fight, the horseback riding with peaks of Er-Sayysh, the men's team power game Arkan-Tartish, the youth games Ak Cholmok, Altyn-Bakan, Ak-Terek-Kok-Terek are also actively reviving, jooluk-tashtamay, chikit and board game toguz korgool.
So, horses for the Kyrgyz people are not just entertainment, but also friendship. From time immemorial, they have been one of the most important sources of life for nomads.

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