» Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 in General | Comments Off on Buzkashi


The national sport of Afghanistan involves horses, riders, and a headless goat! Started as far back as 2000 years ago, its competitors enter to show off the horses and their riding skills. It is a violent and dangerous as the riders, or chapandaz as they are known, and the horses can sustain serious injuries. This is not a sport for the fainthearted and takes a lifetime of training to become a champion. Starting at a young age and with lots of exercises, a chapandaz may get onto the field, but only the best of the best get to touch the goat carcass. Likewise, the horses need years of training before getting to compete.

Buzkashi is played by Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and strangely enough, the USA. Rules vary from country to country, but the USA has refined the sport, and a sheepskin covered ball is used in place of the goat, and the participants must go through the ball through a hoop to score. The ball has to be passed three times between the team players before a “goal” can be scored. In the past, there were not many rules, but a player could not whip the opponent or unsaddle him. Riders wear heavy clothing as padding with helmets as headgear. Boots have high heels to lock onto the saddle so the rider can lean off the horse to grab the goat.

The wealthy and riders own horses are hired but can choose any horse they want from the owner’s string. The goat or calf used in the Buzkashi is beheaded, gutted, and two limbs are removed. What is left is soaked in cold water for a day to toughen it. Players are allowed to tuck the carcass under their legs to free up their hands for control of the horses. When played in Kabul. The team has ten riders, but only five are allowed on the field in each half. At half time the next five riders take to the ground. There is a referee who ensures the rules are adhered to.

Different Countries

In Kyrgyzstan, the rules and the field size differ. Each team has twelve players and can replace the four players on the field at any time, and the same applies to the horses. The game is played over 60 minutes divided into three periods with two ten minute breaks. The players must drop the carcass in the opposing team’s goal to score. Here each individual must play for himself as there are no teams. On occasions, there may be many players on the field at a time.