Cow Racing at Tinh Bien village, An Giang, Vietnam

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All, Festivities, Travel

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Cow Racing (145mm, ISO 200, f 6.3, 1/320)

Annually, late of the eighth month of  lunar calendar, farmers at Tinh Bien, An Giang organize a cow racing competition in Dolta festivity. The race is usually held in the rice paddy fields next to the Buddhist pagodas. Time also starts a new rice season of mid-autumn crop. Men in the villages become the “cow boys” of the morning to conquer the champion.

In the early morning, villagers gathered around racing field flooded a day before. The racing tracks were wet muddy as its rice paddy. It was about 400m round long. The start point was set up with lines of flags while the race tracks were marked with colourful flags. The audience were standing around the edge of the field and excited to witness the champion of the year. Thirty pairs of cows in the field greeted the audience and already for the tournament.

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Greetings (95mm, ISO 200, f 7.1, 1/400)

The cow-controllers were already about 8:30 a.m in the morning at the fields. Each of man controlled a pair of cows pulling a harrow behind. The competitors stood on the harrow with a spur to control the cows. All of pairs walked around the racing track to greet local people. Some cows were dressed up with flowers and colorful neck laces.

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Greetings (105mm, ISO 200, f 6.3, 1/400)

The racing was started with every two pairs of cows. The first round would choose the winners for the next lap. The rule was that one pair of cows would stand in front of the other one at the START point. There were two laps to defeat each other. When the start signal was made by the referee, the 1.5 first half of the lap, two pairs controllers standing on the harrows were walked around the field as they were ploughing at Paddy fields. They tried to keep closed to each other. But not passing!. The behind pair of cow was not allowed to touch the harrow of the front one. If happened, the behind would be a loser. This lap seemed to show the skills of cow control. If cows were out of the racing fields, that pair could be a loser immediately. The last 150m of the second lap was the most interesting of the race. Both of two pairs were running to the FINISH as fast as possible. If the behind pair ran up and touched the harrow of the front pair, he became the winner. Otherwise, the front one would win the game. After defeating for the rounds, the semi final and the final were the most professional skills. The winner could be a proud of farmers and would be a promising a productive for the coming crop of the year.

AG-6784First lap (105mm, ISO 200, f 6.3, 1/400)

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First lap (105mm, ISO 200, f 7.1, 1/800)

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AG-7081Getting the FINISH (165mm, ISO 200, f 6.3, 1/320)

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Getting the FINISH (155mm, ISO 200, f 5.6, 1/320)

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