Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part VI – Wild Horse Catching.

Beginning to Actually Look Awake

In the final segment of the epic journey that was Thomalavé 2010, we went to the Odaka “Wild Horse Catching” event. Traditionally, this was an offering of wild horses from local samurai lords to the local temple, where they would be kept as assets. The samurai would round up the local brumbies and run them up to a pen in front of the temple, where the acolytes would have to attempt to catch, halter and break in the horses. Presumably this was accompanied by a given amount of chaos, kicking and blood, from all parties concerned. Like most things here, it became something of a ritual, and has been on-going for some hundreds of years.

The only problem is, even rural Japan must have run out of wild horses pretty quickly.

The spectacle was impressive in its die-hard at-all-costs adherence to tradition and ritual, if not in the “raw power of man” which the brochure claimed would be on display. When the acolytes are all over 50 years old, the “wild horses” have not only clearly been handled before but all arrive shod and one with a plaited forelock, and the whole exercise goes down with less fuss than I’ve had trying to catch my own horse, the whole thing was a bit of a joke.

We all had a good time, though; despite sweating, hungover, in the 30+ degree sun, surrounded by crowds, Japan somehow manages to pull through with its inherent friendliness and soft touch. The costumes (I hesitate to call them anything else) and the genuine tradition of the temple (at least it was the same temple from the olden days) made for a romantic ambience. There was at least one young colt who seemed unbroken and lively. We gave up before he was caught; it didn’t look like they were going to have too much trouble, and we were facing a long hike back home where the blessed Katie had prepared a traditional American breakfast of waffles, bacon and whipped cream.

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It was a wonderful end to Thomavalé.

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One Comment

  1. jillian says:

    Very nice looking animals, nevertheless. Perhaps there’s just something in the feed! Or, they’ve been eating lots of willow!

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