Kok-Boru, the Horse Game You Won’t See at the Olympics

Smithsonian Online

August 9, 2012

Five autumns ago, on a quiet Monday afternoon in Barskoon, a village on the shores of Issyk Kul Lake in eastern Kyrgyzstan, Ishen Obolbekov was lounging in his backyard yurt when he heard what sounded like the clackety clack of horse hooves smacking asphalt.

The noise appeared to grow louder.

Obolbekov, who is six feet tall and cuts an urbane figure, walked outside and saw the snow-capped Ala-Too Mountains that tower above his village. Then he watched as about a dozen horse-mounted teenage boys stormed his front yard and presented him with a headless goat.

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