We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Buzkashi?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Buzkashi, or “goat grabbing,” is a violent, fast-paced equestrian sport played in many parts of Central Asia. At a stretch, one might consider it the more savage cousin of polo. It is particularly associated with Afghanistan, and it is considered by many people to be the Afghan national sport. This game is not for the weak of heart; it requires skilled riders and horses, and a tough stomach, since a dead goat or calf is involved. Casual games of Buzkashi are popular in many parts of Afghanistan and Central Asia, and serious competitors also enter formal competitions.

The sport is known by a variety of names in Central Asia, including Ulak Tartysh. It has been played for hundreds of years, as writings and paintings from the area indicate. Essentially, it tests the skills of riders and horses, rewarding people for aggressive, strong riding and decisive movements. By tradition, riders do not own their horses; instead, the valuable mounts used in Buzkashi are owned and trained by third parties who select talented riders for their animals.

In theory, Buzkashi is played by teams, but the game is a classic illustration of shifting alliances. The goal of the game is to pick up and retain hold of a dead goat or calf, which is traditionally beheaded and packed with sand or rocks to make it heavier. In a variant of the game called Tudabarai, riders must simply get the goat away from the crowd of other riders, or they can play a more challenging version, Qarajai, in which riders must loop around a target on one end of the field and then throw the goat into a vat or clearly marked ring.

Team members may foul members of another team to regain control of the goat, but they will also turn on each other. Riders can hit, bump, whip, or slap each other to grab the goat, and they must hold the animal rather than looping it onto their saddles. Most Buzkashi riders suit up with heavy garments to protect themselves from other players, and serious injuries are not uncommon. At the close of the game, the winning horseman is rewarded with prizes, and the owner of the horse typically offers a reward as well.

The horses used in Buzkashi are very agile and strong, with the ability to stop on a dime when required. Riders are usually capable of controlling their mounts with their legs alone, leaving their hands free to attack other players or hold onto the goat. It takes years of experience to play the game well, although casual players are often welcomed at informal games.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.