Expert Tibetan riders amaze spectators at annual horse festival
Thundering across the vast Himalayan plateau in traditional finery, Tibetan horsemen gather for an annual riding festival that is a feast for the eyes.
Multicolored prayer flags inscribed with religious texts flutter in the breeze, and tents line the green hills surrounding the racing ground in Yushu, in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai.
The area is home to many of China’s Tibetans.
Spectators at the event — including local Tibetanwomen in traditional dresses known as chuba, and monks in red robes — lined up to enter a stadium where the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial.
One woman in a blue and orange dress stood in front of a pyramid of prayer flags, brandishing an umbrella to protect herself from the harsh sunlight of the high-altitude plateau.
The horses are the real draw — brown steeds bedecked in yellowandgreen ribbons, mounted by riders whose long hair flows in the wind beneath azure skies.
The festival, begun in the 1990s, lasts for around five days. It was suspended for several years following the 2010 earthquake in Yushu that killed 2,700 people.
The Tibetan people of the area — known as Kham — are famed for their equine skills.
Shows of horsemanship and archery are the festival’s main events, drawing hundreds of spectators.
Government officials say that they hope to use the festival to showcase Tibetan culture and bring tourism to the remote region.
“You can see the Tibetan fashion show — the jewelry, the nice clothes and dancing,” said one Tibetan spectator. “A lot of Chinese tourists and foreigners come to watch.”
Tibetan horsemen ride in traditional dress as they demonstrate their skills at the annual riding festival in Yushu, Qinghai province, last week.