National Tent-Pegging & Horse Dance Championship

Tent-pegging CompetitionHorse Dance Competition

Every once in a while we experience something that makes living in Pakistan rewarding, such as our Karakoram roadtrip all the way to Hunza and the Khunjerab Pass at the Chinese border in October 2006. We didn’t have to travel so far this weekend to experience something unique. In fact it was only an hour’s drive, and that’s due to heavy traffic, to the neighboring city of Rawalpindi to witness the national tent-pegging and horse dance championship.
Our friend Monica, who is passionate about horses, saw this amazing events last year. But these were usually held in vacant fields in towns, so we were content to admire her photos until now. This year’s competition was held at the Rawalpindi Polo Ground. We arrived in time to catch two horses compete in the dancing competition. In true Pakistani style, the horses were accompanied by two or three musicians. One had bells attached to her ankles so one could hear her hoofs moving to the beat of the drums.

The main event was the group competition in tent-pegging. This is an ancient equestrian sport believed to be based on a battle strategy of attacking an enemy camp by removing the tent pegs first causing the tents to collapse. In the competition each team had four men attempting to pierce tent pegs with their lances while riding the horses at 25-30 mph. Scores are not only based on their speed and accuracy, but also their ability to literally keep their hats on.

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