Caucasian National Horse Games
The peoples of the Caucasus have always been distinguished by great love for the horse. This animal was for them both a means of transportation along difficult mountain roads, and an assistant in everyday work and a faithful companion in the battlefield. The horse was not only carefully raised and raised, but also carefully trained and prepared for any difficult life circumstances. And one of the most common forms of such training was a variety of equestrian games, often imitating combat situations. Equestrian games were accompanied by all the holidays and special occasions. In games, young horsemen were tempered and learned riding skills.
The traditions of equestrian games have not died out among the Caucasian peoples in these days. They are especially fully preserved among the peoples of Georgia and Azerbaijan. In Georgia, the art of riding and the rules for preparing horses for military use were already known in the 1st century BC. A century later, the first hippodrome was built in the country for various horse races. According to legend, he was near the city of Kutaisi. Equestrianism reached its peak here in the 16-17 centuries of our time. During these years, more than 360 horse games and their elements, regulated by the rules, were known.
In our time, such games as Chkhenburti, Isindi, Kabakhi, Tarchiya, Mikerdaoba, Mokneva, Mtidan Dashveba and a number of others are cultivated in Georgia, which are in some cases a variety of the above. The most common game in the central part of the country and in the regions of Abkhazia is the game of Chkhenburti. In this game two teams meet. According to modern rules, each team has six players, one goalkeeper, two defenders and three forwards. Riders are armed with rackets on long handles – “chogan”.
Rackets have a slightly stretched, sagging net. A platform for a game can have from 150 to 300 meters in length and 75 to 120 meters in width. The gates have arbitrary sizes, but are usually close to football. Participants play with a rubber ball with a diameter of 12 – 15 cm. The goal of the game is to throw more balls into the opponent’s goal. The game is very dynamic, temperamental, long passes, intercepting the ball in the air, grabbing it from the opponent at full gallop, lifting from the ground and sharp throws – all this makes the game extremely spectacular and exciting. The game is held in two halves of 10 minutes with a break. Chhenburti has several varieties. In one of them, athletes play individually, here the rider wins, who during the game will be able to catch the ball more times with his racket and again toss it high into the air. In another team variety, players send the ball only from a position on the ground and cannot play it in the air.
One of the most exciting equestrian games is certainly the Isindi game. She imitates a military battle using darts. The rules of this game are as follows. The playing field can be a rectangular flat area about 100 meters long and about 20 wide. Often the game is played on the racetrack of the hippodrome. There are two teams of 6-8 riders. They line up each on their starting line, between which should be 80 meters. Before each penalty line, about 15 meters in the center, a pole is set up to indicate the turning point. Each rider is armed with a light bamboo dart 120 – 150 cm long, with a soft tip. At the judge’s signal, the rider of one of the teams leaves for the opponents penalty area and throws his dart in their direction. Then, sharply rounding the pole, the turn signal rushes to his team. At the same time, one of the players breaks out of the ranks of his rivals and strives to hit him with a throw of his dart. Regardless of the results of the throw, he must also go around the limiter and try to get away from defeating the opponent’s dart. All this happens at the extreme agility of horses and the basis of success is a quick turn in front of a line of rivals. For the defeat of the rider by throwing a dart, the team is awarded 2 points, for hitting a horse – 1 point. If the pursued dzhigit manages to catch a dart before he hits him or his horse, he gets 2 points in favor of his team. The game takes place in two halves, with a change in starting positions. In each half, all team players must take part in the pursuit. Isindi is truly an unrivaled game in terms of intensity and entertainment, there are no indifferent people among the spectators, and every successful throw is met with applause and enthusiastic cries. Violations of the rules in this game are penalized with negative points. A special penalty is given for an injection with a dart of an opponent or his horse without a throw.
One of the oldest Georgian equestrian games is the game of kabakha. It also simulates the moments of hostilities of armed riders. Its essence is this. The game can be held both in team and in personal form. On an elongated platform (also often on a race track), a six-meter-high pole is installed from the side opposite from the audience. At its top is a bowl (at one time gold or silver) or a rubber ball with a diameter of 15 cm.