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My First Neza Bazi Experience (“Pegging”)

I was invited to an equestrian competition in Walsall called “Neza Bazi” – aka “Pegging” aka “Tent Pegging” – an ancient cavalry sport that originated in the Indian subcontinent during the middle ages. It’s mainly practiced in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some parts of Sindh and Balochistan. However, it’s very popular with the Punjabi diaspora internationally as well. This was one of many events that take place regularly across the UK. And, as I found out, it can be VERY dangerous – even for experienced riders. (I’ll spare you the gruesome footage of the accidents that happened on the day I made this film).

From Wikipedia:
Tent pegging (sometimes spelled tent-pegging or tentpegging) is a cavalry sport of ancient origin, and is one of only ten equestrian disciplines officially recognised by the International Equestrian Federation. Used narrowly, the term refers to a specific mounted game with ground targets. More broadly, it refers to the entire class of mounted cavalry games involving pointed and edged weapons (lance and sword) on horseback, for which the term “equestrian skill-at-arms” is also used.

TRANSCRIPT


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[Music]

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I’m an embarrassment to my Punjabi heritage.

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We should be able to do this naturally.

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[Laughs]

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Are we going for a ride?


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[Music]

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So today I’m in Walsall to do some horse riding.

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I was going to bring the girls,
because I’m sure they’d enjoy it.

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But, unfortunately, they’re both ill.

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So I’ve had to come here on my own
to enjoy this equestrian extravaganza.

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[Music]

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Apparently, there’s a scoring
system, and this is a competition.

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I don’t understand the scoring
system, or who’s winning,

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and what constitutes a good run.

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But the idea is that they run from
down bottom of the hill up to the top.

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[Music]

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So today I’ve come to watch an equestrian 
competition.

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This is a competition called “Neza Bazi”.

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You’ll see a very Punjabi theme.
People speaking Punjabi…

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Pakistani flags. Some Sikh people.

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So the idea is this…

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Teams of horse riding clubs, from all over the UK,

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have come and they are competing.

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Riders from every club line up
at the bottom of the field.

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And they take a run all the way to the top.

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Halfway through there are pegs in the ground.

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And they’re carrying javelins.

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And their job is to spear any one of the pegs.

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If they touch one it’s two points.

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If they spear one and take it
with them then it’s four points.

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And there will be an overall individual
champion declared at the end of the day.

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As well as a winning team.

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It’s a good spectator sport!

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If you get a chance to see any of this
“Neza Bazi” stuff in your local area,

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if you’re connected to the local
Punjabi community perhaps,

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then you will probably be
able to attend one of these.

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Or find them online.

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[Music]

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After several hours of competition,
and a lot of skilled horse riding,

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the Chakswari team were declared the winners.

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And their fans celebrated victory in the traditional way.

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I did ask what this competition was called in English.

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I was told that the wooden stakes they
spear with the javelins are called “pegs”.

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And that’s why this particular sport is called “pegging”.

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Which i thought was a bit of a bummer.

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Anyway, I didn’t bother doing any horse riding myself.

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Turns out it’s seriously dangerous!

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Ambulances had to be called after
several people had accidents.

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I’m not going to show you that.

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But here’s some footage of an experienced
rider controlling a panicking horse.

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And you’ve got to admire the skill involved here.

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