You have seen the acts of abuse routinely carried out against horses in North American and European sports. Here is a rare look at Buzkashi (referred locally as “goat grabbing,”) the National Sport of Afghanistan, where what they term horsemanship is brutal and often savage.
Images by Richard Dunwoody from his Facebook Page who recently visited the country.
Across northern Afghanistan, as well as in neighboring Central Asian states, the winter sport of Buzkashi has been an enduring pastime for centuries, dating back to the time of Genghis Khan.
The object of the game is for a member of two competing teams to pick up the carcass of a decapitated calf or goat from the ground, carry it around a flag, and return it to a circle in front of the judges.
During Taliban rule, many of the top players fled their villages or fought with the Northern Alliance. Others left the country. But now the pros are trickling back. Teams from local villages play each other, typically after Friday prayers. Sometimes matches are held to celebrate a wedding or the birth of a son; other times tournaments take place in which thousands of horsemen participate.
Buzkashi in America?
In a report filed by Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service, “Headless Goat Found in Topless Bar; Six Afghan Buzkashi Players Held“, it details an incident involving Buzkashi players in a New York club.
How six fierce-looking men from a remote region in Afghanistan, clad in elaborate ethnic garb, reeking of sweat, livestock and alcohol, found themselves at the Rack and Loin remains a mystery.
Sal the Day Manager was called.
“I see a goat without a head I’m thinking, where’d I see this before,” said Sal, a short, powerfully built man in his late 30s. “Then it hits me, I saw it on ESPN some time back, guys on horses going at it, battling over a headless goat. Those are some tough hombres. Out of respect, I had drinks sent over and offered to have the goat cooked and served over cous cous for a late lunch. All that pulling and stretching tenderizes the meat; I was looking forward to it.”
Before police could arrive on the scene, a health inspector there to investigate an unrelated complaint found a drunk kitchen worker claiming to be “tenderizing” the fetid, already quite tender goat carcass, and immediately ordered the Rack and Loin shut down until further notice.
Word of the incident reached Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US, Said T. Jawad, who issued a brief statement.
“While this was in many ways and on many levels, deeply regrettable, it’s a comfort knowing that Afghan athletes, while sheltered from most aspects of 16th, let alone 20th century living, are every bit as arrogant, boorish and out-of-control as big American sports stars. While we would have preferred another venue, we’re delighted to have had this opportunity to expose American sports fans to our national game. When you break it down, buzkashi has everything an American sports fan could want – it’s football, hockey and barbecue rolled into one. Once we develop rules, establish a scoring system and find something more compatible with the Western palate, like lamb or turkey, to take the place of goat, I predict we’ll look back on this incident as the moment the American public fell in love with the great game of buzkashi.”
As if we need any more horse abuse, to import this type of barbarism. -Ed.