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China and Mongolia Land of Dynasties

Naadam Festival

The Three Games of Men

We   departed   our   lodge   at   11.30am   for   the   local   Naadam   festival   games   of   horse racing,    wrestling    and    archery.    Known    as    the    Three    Games    of    Men,    although women   now   participate   in   the   archery   and   girls   in   the   horse-racing   games,   but   not in Mongolian wrestling. We   saw   the   opening   ceremony,   but   then   the   start   of   the   games   were   delayed   for an   hour   as   some   of   the   wrestlers   were   delayed   due   to   a   puncture.   So,   we   returned to the lodge for lunch and then went back to the Naadam games The   2   horse   races   are   both   ridden   by   children   under   the   age   of   13.   One   race   is 7.5km   for   horses   up   to   4   years   and   the   other   10km   for   over   4   years.   The   entrants have   to   walk/trot/canter   from   the   festival   site   to   the   start   point   and   then   gallop back.   There   were   about   100   entrants,   male   and   female,   in   each   race   with   many very young riders. A   dust   storm   suddenly   hit   but   fortunately,   it   started   when   the   Naadam   was   in   its final   stages   so   we   only   missed   the   horse-riders   who   pick   up   a   pole   from   the ground and the award for the best dressed couple. The   Naadam   Festival   is   the   ultimate   celebration   of   nomadic   and   Mongolian   cul - ture.   Naadam,   which   means   "games",   is   traditionally   celebrated   in   every   town   and rural   district   across   the   country   in   July   each   summer.   It   features   the   three   manly sports:   wrestling,   archery   and   horse   racing.   The   strongest   wrestlers,   fastest   horses and expert marksmen come together to compete for National and regional titles. Another   popular   Naadam   activity   is   the   playing   of   games   using   shagai   (sheep   or ibex   anklebones)   that   serve   as   game   pieces   and   tokens   of   both   divination   and friendship.   The   objective   is   to   flick   the   bone   into   a   central   target.   Local   festivities and   merry-¬¨making   are   also   key   feature   -   something   that   everyone's   encouraged to participate in!
Mongolian horses Mongolian horses are of a stocky build, with relatively short but strong legs and a large head. They range in size from 12 to 14 hands high. Despite their small size, they are horses, not ponies. Mongolian horses have great stamina, although they have smaller body they can gallop for 10 km without break. The hooves are very robust, and very few animals are fitted with horseshoes.