It is very difficult to describe this type of national games and amusements on paper. One must become a participant of these races in order to understand their rapture. The tourist firms of Uzbekistan can organize this show for you, but you will not be able to find anything better than what the men in kishlaks organize.
The story is written from the words of Ikrom a young man from Samarkand, a repeated winner of the local races and goat tearing. the decision of conducting races was made unexpectedly as always, while drinking evening tea at the choyhona. The preparation takes one week. The men-participants gather the money. With these dues of the members a car was bought before (about 15 years ago). Sometimes the money was enough to buy a Jiguli and sometimes even a Volga. Nowadays the gathered money is mostly spent for the organization of the feast after the races for all the participants and a good robe. The tables and wooden benches, kurpachas (cotton mattresses) and carpets for the trestle-beds, as well as the crockery are pulled to the choyhona. While the young men race on the steppe, the old men prepare plov, shurpa and tea.
As an experienced participant I can give some advices. It is better to wear quilted trousers and a jacket because the rules of these races allow the rivals to beat each other’s hands and legs with a small lash. During the wrestle one does not notice the pain of the split skin but the scars on hand may remain. It is allowed to push the rival with your shoulder during the battle for the carcass of the goat or more often a young sheep, this is why it would be better if you weigh a lot. The rivals rarely fall off the horse, but if this happened I don’t remember any injuries from the horse. A horse will never harm a human. One has to get off the horse during the game in order to mend the strap of the saddle and the races could last for half a day. The aim of the game is to gallop a certain distance or circle on the steppe with the sheep attached to your saddle. The rivals are alert, they are breathing right behind you, beat you hands and legs and pull one of the sheep’s legs. Of course the sheep after such techniques literally turns into a sack of bones. I tie the sheep to my saddle by putting the hind leg of the sheep through the straps of the saddle the wool falls in wisps. The sheep itself also often falls to the ground this is why one must choose a short horse so that it would be easy to bend and pick the sheep up from the ground.
The winner is greeted in the choyhona with loud screams while the sheep gets skinned and put on the coals in a tandoor. An amazing meat in its own juice is prepared. Men eat, drink and share their impressions of the races till night. Many years ago these races carried another function: at the side of the men’s place for relaxation, a table for women and girls was organized. This was one of the opportunities for ladies to choose an eligible bachelor and for the aksakals to evaluate each one of them so that during the spring period of matchmaking they already know which girl to recommend to which young man and go themselves in the delegation of matchmakers. After all in the case of successful matchmaking they also receive gifts.
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