.When the race comes around, the racing ground turns into a campsite overnight. Herdsmen attach great importance to the races, and they make preparations well in advance. Among other things, they stop riding their horses to give the animals a chance to rest up. On the coldest day, they bathe the race horses in icy cold water in the morning. Usually the horse is fed with goat milk, ideally with some crystal sugar added. The care a man gives his beloved steed exceeds that which he would give to a new-born baby.
Before the horse race begins, the horses entered are trimmed with fancy colors. The teenage jockeys also put on a festive look by donning gaudy silk gowns with matching trousers and accessories like those worn in Tibetan dramas. After circling round the incense burner in the centre of the race track, the horses gather at the starting line. There are short and long races. The long race covers a distance of three kilometers to ten kilometers.
The moment the colorful specks appear in the far distance, there a commotion begins in the eager crowds, standing on tiptoe and craning their necks, and a medley of cheers, whistling, catcalls and laughter floats in the air. The climax comes as the horses sprint for the finish line. The winner receives instant acclaim everywhere. The second place hardly counts.
In addition to long and short distance horse races, there are exhibitions and contests of horsemanship. On horseback riders pluck scarves from the ground and shoot at targets while at full gallop. Track events include races for children and adults, Field events include tug-of-war, rope skipping, the broad jump, high jump and weight-lifting. At some places, there are yak races.
There are many horse race festivals taking place in Tibet every year. Among them, the most famous are Nakchu Horse Race Festival and Gyantse Horse Racing Festival.