Horse Games: One man’s search for the tribal horse games of Asia and Africa

Review Horse Games BR Farm
COVER: Horse Games: One man's search for the tribal horse games of Asia and Africa is an insightful read by British man Bob Thompson. (FW49-588NN)

FROM the Buzkashi horsemen in Afghanistan and Mongolia, to the dancing horses of Mali and the mounted Oromo spearmen of Ethiopia, British man Bob Thompson has spent decades travelling to the most difficult outreaches of the world to discover the last remaining tribal horse games of Asia and Africa.

He covers gilgit polo, visits the Ethiopian national stud, watches cirit and tent-pegging, and his journey takes him to such exotic places as Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Iran and Pakistan.

Bob Thompson travels to some of the world’s most remote places to fulfil his passion for seeing, while they still remain, the last vestiges of the skills of the war horse.

This book is a fascinating insight into how horses are an integral part of the lives of people in remote parts of the world and how they participate in a variety of games that have evolved from the long hours that warriors used to spend preparing for battle. Although the games may not be familiar to the reader, the level of skill and horsemanship involved is evident and the mutual trust that is required between horse and rider is portrayed.

The book is illustrated with numerous photographs, depicting the people, the horses and the games. These pictures show how the tack and the attire varies from country to country, with some being very decorative and others much more practical for the climate and the games being played.

Bob Thompson started riding when he was six and rode in his first point-to-point on his way back to boarding school when he was just 16. He was commissioned into The Life Guards (Household Cavalry) in 1966.

He left the army to be the horse-coper for an expedition looking for the lost city of Firozkoh in central Afghanistan. While watching a game of Buzkashi, he was told that a banned ancient horse game was still played somewhere in Eastern Turkey. This initiated a lifelong quest to record the remaining tribal horse games around the world.

The book is a jacketed hardback with colour illustrations throughout the 288 pages. It is published by Merlin Unwin Books and is priced at £20.

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