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Horse Racing, Special Festival In Of Bac Ha Area

By Expert Author: Liliana Kim

Bac Ha, the land famous for white plum blossom is not only charming with speciality plum but also famous for maize alcohol and Thang Co soup, and yet, the bumber crops of rice of hamlets perching on mountain sides are contributed by the supple horses. When the racing season comes they become mighty runners, bring glory to their owners.

Bac Ha horse racingIn the spring, to find those who participated in the horse races on Bac Ha Plateau is not difficult. In the villages such as Na Hoi, Ta Van Chu , Ban Pho ... most healthy men have done a horse race. Sen Diu Phu, a barefoot knight who has taken part in the horse races at the foot of the mountain, beside the Hoang A Tuong palace said the race began long ago when he was a little boy he did see his father racing. Growing up as a boy and jumped onto the horse track. There is no saddle, just barefoot , racing horse for fun "

Chu added the organization was very well and extremely fun. A few dozen people rode horses and was given a gun with 5 bullets, after the drum sounded people started the race, shot 5 bullets at the assigned aim, and then rob red sphere at the finish line, after that jumped on the horse and returned to the start line. The faster person and hit the target better would win the game. However due to wars the races were not organized often and then stopped. The winners became legendary, they just worked hard, raised horses and waited for one day when the festival is recovered and they have never stopped hoping.

In the spring of 1975, celebrating the reunification of the country, Bac Ha conducted a record parade with 300 martial and imposing horses which were usually the hiking pack horses. 5 years later the commander of the Military District of Bac Ha organized a contest, selected the best riders and marksman, Ly Seo Thong became the winner, was praised enormously. Unfortunately the competition stalled again until 27 years later in 2007 the Bac Ha traditional horse racing was officially restored, becoming the special activity in response to programme "Coorporation for tourism development" of 8 Northwest provinces.

Bac Ha is the craddle of war horses in northwest Vietnam, produced numerous cargo horses since the roads were difficult to drive, horseback was the most convenient mode of transport for local people. Today the road was built to almost every hamlet, horsed are raised for meat, carrying goods and agricultural products in the remote villages. Famous for Bac Ha market on Sundays, some people still go to market on horse back, visitors on their Sapa tour usually combine the trip to Bac Ha market, there is even a market selling cattle such as buffaloes and horses named Can Cau market on Saturdays, people raise horses for racing purpose as well. Beside participating in the festivals, in springs or after harvest time young people in the villages practise racing, and the winner horses must work very hard in the practice.

Vang Van Hoang, a very good horse breeder in Na Hoi village said "A good horse can be recognized quickly in his beautiful form, about 4 to 6 years old, this is believed to be the most vigorous period of the war horses"

However, long time breeders said that on the mountain slopes of Bac Ha there is Hong Mi, a kind of herb, those horses who eat a lot of this will become very strong and supple, other people said stamina of a horse is subject to the ability to drink alcohol of the horse.

Mr Vang Van Cot of Tay ethnic group living in Na Hoi commune who has been a horse breeder for more than 20 years and has provided many good horses for racers said "Horses are intelligent, you love him he also loves you, in daily life they are attached to each family, if you feed him well and take good care of him he will be very loyal. Before the race you should keep him away from female horses to save this strength or from wild horses so that he will learn from them and refuse to obey the racers".

Yet, Bac Ha alone does not have sufficient good horses for the races, some people have to go "hunting" in other places, choose the best ones to train and practise, it costs a lot of time and energy and that's why those horses are the pride and bear great expectations from owners. Each rider has his own way to look after his horse, before the race horses are given special care, better fed, washed. Bac Ha is mysterious, and so many things need to explore. Even successful recipes for the horses owners are not always willing to share. However racing season is happy time for people living in Bac Ha and around.

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