In 1972 I left The Life Guards to be the equine advisor for a small expedition looking for the lost city of Firooz Koh in Afghanistan.  The expedition was curtailed by the authorities shortly after it had started.  I spent the next 5 months travelling in buses around Afghanistan, looking at horses and researching Buzkashi

While watching the King’s Birthday Buzkashi Tournament near Kabul, the Turkish Charge d’Affairs told me that there was a ‘real man’s horse sport’ played somewhere in Eastern Turkey.  I asked where and what, but all he could tell me was that it had been banned by the Sultan in the 19th century for being too dangerous.  The following year I watched a game Cirit near Erzurum, and so began my quest to find and record horse sports in Asia and Africa before they died out.

Except for one trip to Gilgit in Pakistan in 1983, the eighties and nineties were taken up with farming and raising a family.  I returned to my research in 2000 and found Faras Gugse, an equine sport played by the Oromo in Ethiopia.  SInce then I have visited Manipur, the Altai mountains in Mongolia, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso.

The trips are self-financed; I travel mainly by local bus.  Because so little is written about Horse Sports, I often have no idea which part of a country I will be visiting, until I arrive and find out where the horsemen are based.  Then I go there and start making enquiries.  It is a question of meeting the right people and once they realise I know about horses, they are usually willing to help.  Demonstrations or actual games of a particular sport generally only happen once, so besides watching, I have to photograph them at the same time.  Often I end up videoing with my left hand while taking photographs with my right.

I have my own horses and live on a small farm on the Welsh Borders.  My wife looks after everything at home when I sling on my backpack and depart for another bout of exploration.

Publications

‘Buzkashi: Polo with a Difference’. The Horseman’s Year Book 1974. Chapt 10, 69-86

‘Cirit: Polo of a Sort’. The Horseman’s Year Book 1975. Chapt 12, 94-101

‘Polo Explorer: A little local game that went around the world’. Equestrian Times. August 30, 120-121

‘Question on Horses is 30 years too late’. Mid Wales Journal. December 14, 4

‘Bad omens put paid to racing Festival’. Mid Wales Journal. December 21, 7

‘Searching for Indigenous Horse Games’. NES Journal of Equine Studies. Vol 6, 25-3

‘Polo’s Heritage: the decline of the Manipuri Pony’. The Polo Times

‘End of an African era’. Equestrian Times

‘Conservation or extinction’ (The Manipuri Pony). Polo Quarterly

About Me

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