Monday Morning Brief | Equestrian events on stamps

Apr 10, 2017, 4 AM


Watch as Scott catalog new-issues editor Marty Frankevicz takes a look at stamps from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that portray equestrian events in a national sports festival and the second World Nomad Games.

Full Video Transcript:

Good morning and welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for April 10, 2017.

People who grew up in the sixties and seventies fondly remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports, a smorgasbord of unusual competitions from around the world like cliff diving from Mexico, and the demolition derby from Islip Speedway in New York. Though the program is long off the air, one can find another smorgasbord of sporting events in the Wide World of Stamps.

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When it comes to sporting events in which horses are involved, the sports of the landed gentry immediately come to mind. There are famous horse races like the Kentucky Derby where huge crowds see which expensive, high-strung beast carrying a small person on its back can run the fastest for about 2 minutes, all to end a day of guzzling buckets of mint juleps, and making bourbon-soaked wagers on the winning 3-year-old based solely on the colors of the jockey’s silks.

And there’s also the equestrian events showcased every four years at the Olympics, where competitors wearing top hats try to coax a horse to do things it naturally wants to do — jump over high fences and shrubbery and dance like Ginger Rogers.

And there’s polo, a team sport for people with stables for their Ferraris and Maseratis right next to the stables for their ponies.

If you are from the West, rodeo might first come to mind. Rodeo is largely a display of various ranch work skills where beast and man act together to control other livestock, with an added dash of clown phobia thrown into the mix.

Now quite a number of stamps have focused on those familiar horse events. But our Wide World of Stamps highlights lesser-known equine sports events held in two central Asian countries in 2016.

Kazakhstan issued a pair of stamps depicting equine events from their National Sports Festival. One stamp depicts Kokpar, where two teams of horsemen claw, gouge and otherwise battle it out to carry an animal carcass back to their own goal. No carcass, no problem. The animal’s skull alone will do just fine. Obviously, the use of inflated balls in Central Asian sports is for sissies.

The other stamp depicts Kyz Ku, or the kissing game, where a man on horseback chases after a woman on horseback. If he catches up with her before the finish line, he kisses her and wins. If he can’t catch her before the finish line, they turn around, with the woman trying to whip the man before they reach the start line. If she succeeds, she wins. Seriously, it’s a thing there. A dating thing, I surmise.

And Kyrgyzstan offered up stamps promoting the Second World Nomad Games, held in September in Cholpon-Ata. A souvenir sheet depicted the aforementioned Kokpar competition, while a strip of three stamps depicted an archer on horseback, equestrian wrestling and a flaming horseman, which is apparently an exhibition between competitions, and not an event judged on the degree of the burns received.

For these central Asian people who truly live with their horses, the 2016 World Nomad Games is a real event, trying to establish itself in the area and worldwide. There actually was a team representing the United States. And to wow the crowd, the organizers brought in a famous guest of honor – action movie star Steven Seagal. I suppose it was either this gig or Dancing with the Stars.

For Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott Catalogues, I’m Marty Frankevicz. Enjoy your week in stamps.