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Kyrgyzstan: Horse polo with a dead goat


Buzkashi, also known as Kok-Boru, is a traditional equestrian national sport, reminiscent of horse polo. However, the two teams compete here against each other and try to get the dead goat into the goal. You read correctly a goat whose head and legs are pitted and sometimes the body of a slaughtered sheep can also be used. I’m not going to talk about ethics or morality here, we would have to delve into the long history of this sport and ritual. Let’s take a closer look at this sport.

The goal in Buzkashi is not like the one we know from football or hockey. In this sport, it takes the form of a circle on the ground. Nowadays, this circle is often made of tires stacked together, or one large tire is used for simplicity. A point is awarded to the team that can deliver or throw the goat into the circle.

Buzkashi, Kok-boru
Buzkashi, Kok-boru

Weekend games and annual festivals

Buzkashi are often accompanied by other competitions, such as a duel or a wrestling match, in which the fighters try to throw the opponent from the horse, or a competition where, for example, paper money is thrown on the ground and the rider had to pick it up from the ground with his hand while riding a horse. Archery or other shooting is also common. It was interesting to see.

Súťaže na koňoch, Kirgizsko
Súťaže na koňoch, Kirgizsko

Dexterity, strength – how much does a dead goat weigh?

During our trip in Kyrgyzstan, we had the opportunity to watch the local villagers Buzkashi match, where the strength of the riders and horses and the vigor with which they went into it could already be felt in the air.

As for Buzkashi itself, the villagers sometimes do not train with the real dead goat anymore, but with a dummy goat. However, no dummy goat is used at festivals. The rider himself must be very dexterous, he must perfectly control riding a horse, face opponents, not be thrown down, he must have tactics and strategy. And in addition, he must be able to get and carry and throw the goat itself into the goal.

Riders must be one body and one soul with the horse. Although they also use a whip during the competition, when carrying the goat, it is quite heavy, they need both hands, they even help each other and hold the goat with their feet and hold the whip in their mouths. Then the whole horse is controlled purely by legs and body.

If this all seems crazy to you, wait for the icing on the cake. I tried to lift the goat off the ground, but I did not expect such a weight. The body of the goat itself is approximately 33-35 kilograms.

Buzkashi - dummy goat used for training
Buzkashi – dummy goat used for training


This sport originated in the period from the 10th to the 15th century, according to legend, when locals observed wolves hunting. The name originated from the Persian words “boz” (goat) and “kashi” (to pull). Literally the 5sucking of a goat. The sport was a mainstay at Turkmen weddings and is popular throughout Central Asia, with each country having slightly different rules. At the last World Nomadic Games, it was Kyrgyzstan that became the winner in Kok-Bor.

Popularity of Buzkashi

This sporting tradition is popular among Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Uighurs, Hazaras, Tajiks, Wakhs and Pashtuns. In western China, this horse sport is also practiced on yaks.

Afghanistan: This sport is very popular in Afghanistan and was played every Friday, but it was banned in 2001 during the first Taliban government. After the Taliban took over in 2021, the sport was allowed.


Photogallery: See the entire Buzkashi gallery here.

Greetings to Slovakia

Kyrgyz riders with a Slovak flag, we asked them to pose for us. Thank you

Kirgizskí jazdci Buzkaši, pozdrav na Slovensko
Kirgizskí jazdci Buzkaši, pozdrav na Slovensko

goat, duel, match, horses, horse, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, lake, mountains, Alakul,  Ala-kul , rider, yurt, Karakol, Song-kol


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