By Lauren Woodard
What is the Western Horde and where are the Steppes of Kyrgyzstan, you may ask? It’s all about the World Nomad Games.
The Nomad Games takes place every two years and started in 2014. The Olympics of Nomadic games include such novel events as wrestling on horseback, eagle hunting, ancient board games, traditional archery and horseback archery. Kyrgyzstan and Turkey came together to create these games to connect nomadic cultures with their past and introduce the games and countries to the world. This year it was held in Cholpon-ata, Kyrgyzstan, a 4 hour drive from the largest airport in the capital of Bishkek.
US Archery Team to World Nomad Games
Hadley Hudson read about these games in a travel blog three years ago and knew it was now on his “to do” list. He worked diligently to secure a US spot for an archery team that included Rob Morton – all ground events, Jennifer Lynn Larsen – all ground events, Mike Sabo – Kyrgyz archery, Serena Lynn – all ground and horse events, Susie Winield – horse archery both Kyrgyz and Turkish, Anna Gatti – Korean and Turkish archery and Amie Cuvelier – team support.
What’s what? Kyrgyz is shooting at a picture of a goat done as a front shot, back shot and on your knees from 40 meters. Turkish is shooting at a Turkish target called a puta from 70 meters. Korean is shooting at an 8’ x 6’ target from 145 meters. The horse archery is a 120 meter track shooting front, side and back shot at the same goat target. You get three runs and must change horses each time.
Hadley competed in the horse archery and ended up 13th out of 41. Yeah Hadley! The whole thing was new and chaotic. The saddle and horse challenge alone must have been staggering. A different horse every run and Kok Boru saddles, worn out and held together with rope as well as ropes holding the stirrups on, really high as you’ll see in the pictures. And we all know the reputation of the Turkish knot so he couldn’t adjust them for his size. The Kok Boru horses were similar to small Arabs. They were trained in the point and kick, run method and they were warned that they bite. Understandable considering how those horses feel about how they’re handled. The team however, was very gentle with them and the horses were nice to them.
Being a person who likes crazy experiences, Hadley got a lot of that. Aside of the horses and saddles, pretty much nobody knew what was going on until right before it happened. Then, volunteers knocked on their doors at 10pm so the referees could inspect their archery gear. Luckily, the US Embassy provided an interpreter. Hadley managed to confiscate a horse from the US Embassy’s yurt so he didn’t have to walk to the other side of the games. The event was held on a huge piece of land.
Also crazy? The food was amazing. Lamb, beef and rice, yes, but also horse and horse’s milk.
The next Games will be in Turkey in 2020 and Hadley plans to lead another team there as well to compete in the Korean World Championships and in Turkey next year. Go Hadley!
About the author, Lauren Woodard: Lauren has been teaching and training for over 40 years and is the author of two books that are pure magic for horsemanship – “Curbside Service” and “Balky, Balky, I Ain’t Goin’”. Find out how to be strategic in your best next steps to Exceptional Horsemanship for Mounted Archery by grabbing her “Wouldn’t It Be Great If ” Quiz to check your perspective and propel your horsemanship on her site: www.exceptionalhorsemanship.com
*In the photo at the very top of the page; Rob Morton, Jennifer Lynn Larsen, Mike Sabo, Serena Lynn, Susanna Winfield, and Hadley Hudson