3. North of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan, Buzhkashi is the game of choice. It is played everywhere there are horses, flat space, and room for lots of spectators. The game has simple rules. The field is about as large as a football field, but in place of a goal post, there is a white circle perhaps 15 feet in diameter at each end.
The number of players can vary, but is usually between 10 and 20 on a side. All players are mounted on horseback. The "ball" - aka the buzh - is either a headless goat, or a headless calf. The idea is to remain mounted while carrying the buzh to the team's goal to be dropped within the circle. Each member of the opposing team tries to take the buzh away from whoever on the other team is carrying it, in the hopes of getting the buzh to their own goal. The game continues until both teams tire out, or the number of injuries to men and horses becomes, by agreement, no longer acceptable.
Though Buzhkashi is mostly associated with the north of Afghanistan, horsemanship and horse husbandry is an art form across Afghanistan. "Tent-pegging" on horseback is a competitive sport in the south of the country. In tent-pegging a man on horseback carries a long lance at a full gallop toward a line of tent pegs. The pegs are partially buried in a row along the path of gallop. The idea is to use the lance to uproot as many of the pegs in the row as possible during the gallop. Each gallop is usually accompanied by loud drumming on Afghan Tablas. The drumming builds to a crescendo through the run.
Tent-pegging has roots in the Afghan war with the British army in the mid-1800's. Then, the idea was, in a fast surprise attack, to uproot the pegs, and thus cause British tents - always carefully lined up in rows and ranks - to collapse on their occupants. Thus confused and entangled, the soldiers were easy prey to the second set of galloping Afghan horsemen.