Chasing girls on horseback: Dating the Kazakh way

Kiss, or get whipped – this pretty much sums up what Kyz Kuu is about. Literally translated as “girl chasing”, Kyz Kuu is a traditional equestrian game widely played among young lovers in Kazakhstan.

Kyz Kuu, which stems from nomadic traditions of raiding other nomads and stealing their women, is a grand show of horsemanship, dexterity, courage and love. Unlike a typical horse race however, the reward for winning could mean a hand in marriage.

How it is played

The rules are simple. Dressed in traditional Kazakh clothing, a young man on horseback waits at the starting line as a girl gallops past him at full speed from behind. He then gives chase and attempts to catch up with her before she reaches the finishing line.

If he succeeds, he gets to kiss her while riding alongside each other. But if he fails, the young lady gets to turn around at the finish line and whip him all the way back to the starting line. 

Kyz Kuu today

Once a heroic show of a young man’s love and courage, Kyz Kuu is more about fun and games today.

Whether you view it as an ancient matchmaking tradition or just a game to spice up your date, this is certainly way more fun than swiping right on a dating app!

Competitions are usually held in the steppe during festive occasions, such as major holidays and weddings. The cheerful game is a great platform for young lads looking to impress the opposite sex. But do not fret even if you don’t manage to kiss the girl – you can still leave with a few battle scars to be proud of!

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