Ulak Kupkari is one of the oldest equestrian games of the peoples of Central Asia. This incredibly exciting spectacle can be compared to the heat of passion except perhaps with the Spanish bullfight. Traditionally, Ulak-Kupkari are held on folk festivals, weddings, in the spring before the beginning of agricultural work and in autumn after harvesting. This game is so popular that it turned into a separate sport with its rules, clubs, federations. Even international competitions are held.
Ulak is prepared in advance, and it usually weighs 30-40 kg, but in the rainy season, when clay sticks to the wool, its weight can increase to 80 kg.
A limited section of the field is marked so that the place where the ulak first lies is in the middle between the two kazans. At the command of the judge jigits (young men) jump at him and then the fun begins. All horsemen gather around the carcass of a goat lying on the ground. The first thing you need to do is raise it, then fix it with your foot pressed to the side of the horse to hold it, and then, if you can, rush to the opponent’s cauldron, and throw it. But not everything is so simple. Ulak is heavy and lifting it from the ground is not an easy task. Opponents are not in a hurry with this, they are waiting for someone to pick up a goat and then do everything to take away, which is much easier than picking up. A horseman with an ulak in his hands can not dodge the enemy himself. Help comes to other team members. They with the help of horses remove hunters of easy prey from their friend, giving him the opportunity to escape from a close circle and rush to the kazan on the edge of the field. It is not always the ulak that the same participant throws into the cauldron, as he raised it. This requires considerable effort. Kazan is quite tall and its walls are directed inwards, like a jug. Therefore, the thoughtful tactics of the game are of great importance.
The preparation of horses is of particular importance in ulak-kupkari. They help the riders not only to bring the ulak to the show, but also to protect it from rivals! Riders push, turn sideways, removing from the owner of other people’s horses; In the literal sense, taking the enemy’s pressure on himself. In addition, they bite each other and even the riders of the other team.
In this game, there are strict rules for equipping horses and dzhigits. It is forbidden to use all sharp metal objects, both on the stirrups of a horse, and in all of its harness. And the jigits wear cotton pants and jackets, high boots and helmets or fur hats. The shins of the feet, moreover, are wrapped in a dense cloth, and the horses too!
What awaits the winners? For the sake of what young guys every year go on the field, risking themselves and the horse? The winner is waiting for a good reward – it can be a horse, a camel, a bull, money, and even cars, not to mention carpets, televisions and other items of technology. And, of course, the glory of the most courageous and strong jigit.