I caught the first day of a polo tournament.The opening ceremony was rather charming with local dancing, singing & a tug of war. Amongst the large crowd the only females visible were tourists or small children.
The polo was much more serious than that of the practice match that I'd watched a few days before. This game meant something, the winner went forward in the competition to participate in the Shandur Cup tournament in July next year.
I had a seat in the protected stand, along with local dignitaries. A chain linked fence separated us from the dangers of the game. However the view wasn't as good so at half-time I crossed the field to uncovered stand where the normal crowd was & had a much better view.
I spent more time watching the game & less trying to photograph the action. Sometimes it was quite hard to follow, when I would lose the players in clouds of kicked up dust down the far end of the field. The control that the players had over their horses was very impressive, they could turn in tight spaces with sticks whirling. The horses toughness was equally impressive. They were constantly under pressure, galloping, turning, colliding with other horses & being hit (accidentally, this is a game of gentlemen) by stick & ball. I could imagine that polo would make excellent training for cavalry combat. In fact in the opening ceremony the teams competed to pick up stakes in the ground with lances at a gallop. At the very end of the game one of the horses fell reminding all just how dangerous the game is. The horse later got up & was lead away. The rider looked to be in pain, I suppose his tournament was over.
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