Raw displays of power and poise

By Xu Lin / Yuan Hui ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-08-22 08:14:19

Raw displays of power and poise

Bayantsengel and his wife at his stable. He raises 200 horses of seven breeds and rides horses every day, even after drinking. [Photo by Feng Yongbin / China Daily]

Uljinaran, 52, a Mongolian horse trainer, says there are more than 50 riding tricks, including about 20 for solo riders. The roots of some are martial, he says, having developed as ways to fend off attacks, and some are the product of gymnastic movements and stunts.

"It's a high-risk job, and the advice and instructions that coaches give team members are always strictly in line with a rider's physical fitness and ability."

The club has more than 20 performers, their ages ranging from 16 to 21, he says.

"Recruitment can be difficult because it's a tiring job and the pay is low."

Many people think that Chinese under the age of 25 tend to be spoiled, he says, but he finds that those in the club are highly dedicated and willing to go through the hardships of mastering tricks on horseback that can be intricate, dangerous and demand great skill.

Tumentogtokh, 59, a coach, says that like gymnasts, horse trick riders need to be highly flexible.

In tastes, audiences are highly varied, too, he says.

"Some like polo and others like trick riding."

Mongolians are reputed as horseback nomads, he says, so it is important to respect tradition, including helping equestrianism grow in its many facets.

Tumentogtokh was the coach of the Ordos equestrian team at the annual National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities held in Ordos this month. Many of those who visited the city for the games were able to enjoy polo matches and equestrian events such as jumping.

One feat they saw was riders in traditional ethnic costume swooping up ceremonial scarves from the ground.

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