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A Rare Look Inside a Tibetan Horse Racing Festival

August 16, 2019


a multi-day athletic event that rolls around only once a year It’s a chance for riders to show off their skills and for attendees to show off their festival best. But, unlike the Derby, this event isn’t so much about competition as it is about community. This is Tagong, a one road town where every summer, Tibetans from far and near gather to attend the races. Horses have always been an important part of Tibetan culture. And here, they are blessed by monks before the festivities The first: a four-mile race up a mountain based on pure speed. The second: a test of skill, where riders try to pick up scarves off the ground. This annual gathering is less about winning and more about tradition. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t faced opposition. The races were completely shut down during the Cultural Revolution and are still subject to sudden cancellations by the government. Despite the setbacks, this is still one of the most popular horse festivals on the Tibetan plateau. And it’s easy to see why at this once a year celebration of community and culture.

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