The registration of Bac Ha horse racing festival in the list of national intangible cultural heritage is considered a great opportunity for Lao Cai province to promote the preservation of unique cultural features in the Northwest highlands.
The jockeys competed on the opening day of the Fansipan horse race with the theme of Horseshoe on the Clouds in June 2019. (Photo: Quoc Khanh/VNA) Not a commercial, not a professional race, the Horse Racing Festival in Bac Ha is a race of farmers and racehorses are also pack horses. On May 31, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism gave Bac Ha horse racing festival (Bac Ha district, Lao Cai province) on the list of National Intangible Cultural Heritage. This is considered a great opportunity for Lao Cai province to preserve the unique cultural features in the Northwest highlands. For those who have been born and raised in the “white plateau” land of Bac Ha, Lao Cai, it seems that the daily “sweeping piles… thumping” sounds of the horse-drawn carriages beat on the winding hill roads. , especially at night in the morning, in the afternoon sun or cool afternoon, has been deeply ingrained in the subconscious. The familiar sound of horse hooves also reminds the children of Bac Ha who have been away from home for a long time to be impressed by the traditional horse racing tournament that has existed for hundreds of years in this locality. In the sunny summer days when the hillsides of the Bac Ha highland are full of red plums, it is also the time when the pack horses, the “barefoot knights” temporarily put aside their daily farming work, eagerly preparing to participate in the traditional horse racing tournament – a sports tournament imbued with the traditional cultural beauty of the highland ethnic groups in Lao Cai. In the highland districts Lao Cai The horse is both a close friend and an important daily means of transportation. Every day, in the mornings that have not yet cleared the dew, even though it is still cold, horses still work hard to help the Mong family carry farming tools, fertilizers, and seeds to the fields. In the evening, when the sun shines through the western mountains, it is also the time when horses patiently carry the harvested products from the fields to home. Upland mountain roads are steep and winding, rocky mountains are bumpy, only a horse – a close friend, can help the Mong people sow corn and rice grains on the top of the mountain, and the slopes are precarious. Horse is a friend in everyday life but also a sacred animal in the religious life of the Mong people. The horse is the only thing that transforms into a stretcher to bring the dead to eternity. Only the horse has enough mystical power to carry the Hmong shaman to the heavens, the earth, and the rivers and seas to find the souls of the sick and heal the Hmong. According to Ms. Chu Thi Duong, Vice Chairwoman of Bac Ha District People’s Committee, maintaining the Bac Ha Traditional Horse Racing Tournament is one of the local efforts to honor the fine cultural values of ethnic minorities. Bac Ha highland in general and praised the unique and emotional attachment between upland people and animals that are extremely attached and familiar in their daily life and spiritual life. Click to see standard size. According to history, the Bac Ha horse race is usually held in the spring on a regional scale. In 1975, Bac Ha held a parade with over 200 horses going around the central area to celebrate the liberation of the South and reunification of the country. In the spring of 1980, Bac Ha District Team (Military Command) organized a horse race, shooting to choose good horsemen and gunners to join the militia and transport food by road. After that, Bac Ha did not organize another tournament. In 2007, the Bac Ha traditional horse racing tournament was officially restored. Since then, the award has become an annual festival of Bac Ha district, held once a year, meeting the needs of people to enjoy the cultural and spiritual life, contributing to the preservation and promotion of cultural and sports traditions of ethnic minorities in Bac Ha; promote the image of people, travel Bac Ha to traveler at home and abroad, becoming a highlight to attract tourists to Bac Ha. The previous Bac Ha horse racing festival took place around fields and hills, and ended up in a field in the center of town. When nearly reaching the finish line, the horsemen quickly jumped to the ground, pulled the flintlock on their shoulders and aimed at the target, fired 5 shots, then snatched the red ball, jumped on the horse and returned to the starting point. Whoever is both fast and hits the target the most is the winner. Today, the horse race in Bac Ha is no longer a shooting competition, the jockeys also have a separate arena, the race is organized and more attractive to viewers. Not a commercial, not a professional race, horse racing in Bac Ha is a race of farmers and racehorses are pack horses. In particular, horse racing in Bac Ha is “carpentry racing,” where jockeys ride on horseback without a saddle, without pedals, but only with a belt to tie the horse, two iron hooks tied to the ropes on either side of the jaw to control. In the process of participating in the competition, looking at the jockeys crouching on the backs of the “strong horses” are galloping to see the difficulty and courage of the horsemen on the track. Mr. Vang Van Huynh, a jockey who has won 2 consecutive championships (in 2012 and 2013), shared that when competing, he also needs to observe the opponent’s horse to control the horse, and at the same time, keep a distance to avoid the horse jostling. Collisions can cause accidents: “Sit firmly on your back to control the horse when running. When cornering, pull the reins and slow down to avoid falling. When the road is straight, release the reins and spur the horse to run at full speed. force.” Every year, the Bac Ha traditional horse racing tournament attracts a lot of domestic and foreign tourists to attend. The audience experienced all kinds of emotions: holding their breath when a horse ran too far out of the yard, running towards the barrier; Get your heart racing when a jockey falls off his horse on the track or burst with joy when the horses race past their opponents spectacularly. Mr. Sung Seo Using (Su Man Khang village, Ta Van Chu commune, Bac Ha district) with a long history of raising famous horses in Bac Ha said: “A good horse for racing must be a male horse with a tall body, long hooves, straight, smooth hair, fast sharp eyes, wide chest, slim belly, long and even running steps.Choose a horse to go racing, the legs must be straight, the hooves are thick… if the toenails protrude like a duck’s foot, the horse runs poorly.” On the racetracks of the Bac Ha Traditional Horse Race, the impression left on visitors is always the overflowing excitement and admiration for the brave and simple local ethnic boys, along with the Powerful racing horses bring to the audience attractive performances and hot competitions. Those are the unforgettable experiences in the hearts of every visitor when once coming to the Bac Ha plateau.