Riders fight for honour in Nepal in the world's highest horse race
For 800 years, the Himalayas' best riders have competed in a colourful and brutal horse race
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The clansmen and monks of the mystical land of Upper Dolpa first gathered eight centuries ago to pray, feast, fight over property and vie for the title of fastest horseman in the Himalayas.
They have met every 12 years since in the Tibetan Year of the Dragon for a festival in modern-day Nepal centred around the world's highest horse race, although these days they ride for honour rather than land.
Around 50 cavaliers from tiny villages dotted all over the Himalayas prepare to run the perilous course, a narrow strip of rocky river bed 4,300 metres above sea level in the rarified air of the world's tallest mountain range.
A horn signals the start and the men gallop away on their ornately adorned ponies.
Thousands of monks and other devotees who have walked for days to the Shey Dragon Festival roar on their favourites. The 1.6 kilometre course is essentially a ravine studded with boulders, ditches and a stream of treacherously cold water.
The winner, by a clear distance, is a 23-year-old farmer named Tenzin Gurung from the neighbouring former kingdom of Mustang, whose mount is a chestnut brown Tibetan mare called Tika.
Gurung's prize is to run Tika in a meadow dotted with half a dozen 1,000-rupee (HK$88.4) notes, provided by organisers.
He is allowed to keep what he can pick up without dismounting or slowing down. He manages to scoop up 3,000 rupees, enough in the remote Himalayas to pay for a child's education for a year.
"I'm feeling good, I'm very happy. I've won other competitions in Mustang with this same horse," he said.
The Shey Dragon Festival is among the last of the great Himalayan clan gatherings that hark back to a time when warring tribes would meet over a week-long armistice to take their disputes to the sporting field.
The festival, one of the most important events for Buddhist pilgrims, is over five days straddling August and September.