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Horses are even in these days of machines and robots of all sorts, extremely useful animals, widespread in all continents except Antarctica; they are even considered to be domestic animals, like our common pets, despite their sheer size. There are indeed horses of all races and kinds around the world, and excellent riders with a significant tradition: gauchos, cowboys, and others have already become cultural icons of our world. However, it is in Central Asia where we can find the longest, oldest and deepest horsemanship tradition.

And this is no coincidence: it is in Mesopotamia where the oldest indications of horse domestication can be found, for various uses and for various reasons: the Accadian people was the first to develop light, high-speed chariots to be used with horses in order to take advantage of their speed qualities. Not very long after that, horses became a symbol of power and richness, and soon after, horse racing and showmanship of skills began, as well as all associated things like wagering and betting on horses, riders and chariot teams.

Horse racing and horsemanship is considered to be the sport of kings, and it is indeed expensive and many kings do practice their skills on the saddle. It is also a very profitable activity, and in many cases, the technology available to all those related to horse racing surpasses what can be found elsewhere. You can see something of that if you visit the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the two racetracks of the famous city. There you can wager at ease, using extremely high-tech gadgets compatible only with the systems found there.

But not every gamble is for money in Asia: in Turkmenistan, for instance there are horse races in which young men are pitted against young women. If a bachelor wins, he gets a girlfriend; if he loses, the girl may punch him in the face, slap him, use a latigo, or whatever else, short of killing the man.

Polo, invented in Afghanistan, is quite interesting too: we owe the British for modern polo rules, but the Afghans have their own flavour too. Instead of using a wooden ball, they used in the past the heads of killed enemies; now a dead goat suffices.

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