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Turkish riders recall skills of Seljuks, Huns

by KENAN ASYALI THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | March 21, 2021 at 3:53 a.m.
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)

ERZURUM, Turkey -- Riders in eastern Turkey play cirit, an equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes.

A recent match on a snow-covered field in Erzurum saw players from two of the province's clubs -- the Comrades and the Experts -- line up for a game that was developed more than 1,000 years ago to hone the cavalry skills developed by warriors including the Seljuks, who conquered Anatolia in the 11th century, and the Huns.

The sport revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" -- these days, a rubber-tipped, 40-inch-long piece of wood. The sport's Turkish name translates as javelin or dart.

Riders from each team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. A match is held over two 35-minute periods.

As well as points awarded for hitting an opponent with a javelin, the evading rider can score by performing maneuvers such as hanging from his horse's neck to avoid being struck or catching a javelin mid-air.

Riders are penalized for transgressions such as hitting an opponent's mount or riding outside of the playing area, which can be from 230 to 425 feet in length.

Cirit was popular within the Ottoman Empire, the successor to the Seljuks' domains, before it was banned in the early 19th century as the sultan sought to break up military elites. However, its popularity returned, and it is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government.

Arabian horses are favored for their agility and can fetch up to $5,300. Tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings.

Cirit is also played among the Turkic populations of Iran, Afghanistan and other central Asian countries.

A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider dodges the javelin thrown by an opponent during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider dodges the javelin thrown by an opponent during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, gather for a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, gather for a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider, member of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, waves to the crowd following a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider, member of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, waves to the crowd following a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Thirteen-year-old Muhammed Rasit, the youngest member of Uzmanlar, (Experts) sports club, cuddles his horse prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Thirteen-year-old Muhammed Rasit, the youngest member of Uzmanlar, (Experts) sports club, cuddles his horse prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider throws the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, prepares the horses during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, prepares the horses during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
An ornament reading Masallah (May God preserve him from evil) decorates a horse's head prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
An ornament reading Masallah (May God preserve him from evil) decorates a horse's head prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider prepares to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider prepares to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Uzmanlar, (Experts) sports club, pose for photographs prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Uzmanlar, (Experts) sports club, pose for photographs prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, leaves the ground prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, leaves the ground prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
A rider is about to throw the the javelin during a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, cuddles a horse prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Selcuk Davulcu, 31, a horse groom for the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, cuddles a horse prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The club officials said that Davulcu, a man with Down syndrome has been communicating with people just for the last four years thanks to the horses as they played a big role on his rehabilitation.The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, pose for photographs prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
Riders, members of the Dadas (Comrades) local sporting club, pose for photographs prior to a game of Cirit, a traditional Turkish equestrian sport that dates back to the martial horsemen who spearheaded the historical conquests of central Asia's Turkic tribes, between the Comrades and the Experts local sporting clubs, in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, Friday, March 5, 2021. The game that was developed more than a 1,000 years ago, revolves around a rider trying to spear his or her opponent with a "javelin" - these days, a rubber-tipped, 100 centimeter (40 inch) length of wood. A rider from each opposing team, which can number up to a dozen players, face each other, alternately acting as the thrower and the rider being chased. Cirit was popular within the Ottoman empire, before it was banned as in the early 19th century. However, its popularity returned as is now one of many traditional sports encouraged by the government and tournaments are often arranged during festivals or to celebrate weddings. (AP Photo/Kenan Asyali)
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