Dead goat polo

Buzkashi (literally "goat-pulling" in Persian) is a sport played across Central Asia and Afghanistan, and involves players on horseback wrestling over a decapitated goat carcass. The rules are simple; the goal is to seize the dead goat and to escape to the other side of the field, while being chased by the other players trying to snatch it.

The sport is said to have originated from when nomadic horsemen used to hunt wolves, after which they triumphantly threw the carcass back and forth to their fellow riders. Nowadays, the game is played for sport in rural Tajikistan, in which the best riders from across the country compete for prizes and the glory of victory.

A game can last the whole day and normally consists of short bursts of high-speed chases when a player escapes the scrum with the goat

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In Tajikistan, up to several hundred players can participate in the skirmish over one goat, with very few rules and no referee

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The game is most often played in the natural arena of mountain valleys during the winter months, when the lower temperatures stir up less dust and prevent the horses from overheating

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Players lift the 40kg carcass off the ground in one swing while galloping in full speed, holding on to one limb while clasping another under their leg

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Players wear characteristic Soviet tank helmets, which offer some protection against other players’ whips and boots

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Many players do not own a horse themselves, but are sponsored by a wealthy landlord who provides one. A master buzkashi player is often free to choose any horse he desires

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An exhausted participant wearing oven mitts for protection

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Living goats are presented as a prize for the winner

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Winners can claim other prizes such as camels, horses, carpets or DVD-players. In large events the champion can even win a car

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