Bovine Boarding at Pakistan’s Traditional Bull Races

If you think surfing and snowboarding are extreme sports, then you’ve probably never seen what happens in Pakistan, during traditional bovine races. It involves bulls, a board and dirt.

Tens of thousands of people gather whenever there is a bull race held in Pakistan. They are usually the highlight of festivals organized in rural areas of the Asian country, and attract lots of spectators due to their thrilling nature. Watching a bunch of oxen running alongside each other might not be your idea of a fun time, but add a man on riding a board on a dirty track trying to guide the animals, and things become pretty exciting. The traditional competition  attracts landlords and farmers from all around the province where the race is held, and they all bring their fastest and strongest bulls in hopes of gaining a reputation.

Photo: Bay Ismoyo / AFP / Getty Images

After watching a Pakistani bull race, you can honestly say Western jockeys have it good. While they’re comfortably riding the racing animals, Pakistanis get to hop on a wooden board and hang on for their lives as they’re dragged by the oxen. And if trying to keep their balance throughout the whole 350 meter course while shouting and beating the animals with sticks wasn’t enough, they also have to guide them through a couple of poles placed 10 meters apart, in order to officially finish the race. If the bulls don’t come through the poles or if the jockey falls off his board, the competitor is disqualified.


The 50-year-old event still manages to bring around 40-50 pairs of bulls to the starting line, and spectators love it, as well. The $1,000 prize given to the winner isn’t even enough to cover the cost of raising the cattle, so it’s fair to say most of them don’t do it for the money, but because bull racing is a part of their culture.


A while ago, we featured India’s own extreme bull racing, only Indian’s don’t bother using a board, they just try to keep up with the bulls using their legs.

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