Alison Wright
Kazakh hunter and his eagle    Every year dozens of Kazakh hunters gather for the Golden Eagle festival amidst the craggy far western Altai Mountain range. They play traditional games: archery, horse and camel racing and Khukh-bar, a tug of war played on horseback with a sheepskin, although the most anticipated event that these proud men come for is to show off the skills of their hunting birds. Only one bird is declared a winner. But at the end of the day each man rides out just as regally as he rode in, covering the long distance back to his village on horseback with the weight of his huge eagle impressively balanced on the crook of his arm. I experienced first hand the powerful brunt of these horses. About midway through the festival a horse threw it’s rider and pummeled me to the ground from behind. The force felt like being hit by a fast moving train. My cameras slammed hard into my face. There was no available water to even clean the deep gash that now bled profusely. Still, I’d waited 15 years to photograph this festival and the light was perfect. I tied a bandana around my eye and got my shots. Until I passed out. I was finally brought to a hospital where my face was stitched up it was determined that I had also suffered a concussion and fractured a rib. And if you look closely you can still the word Nikon etched into my cheekbone.
Olgii, Mongolia
Kazakh hunter and his eagle
Every year dozens of Kazakh hunters gather for the Golden Eagle festival amidst the craggy far western Altai Mountain range. They play traditional games: archery, horse and camel racing and Khukh-bar, a tug of war played on horseback with a sheepskin, although the most anticipated event that these proud men come for is to show off the skills of their hunting birds. Only one bird is declared a winner. But at the end of the day each man rides out just as regally as he rode in, covering the long distance back to his village on horseback with the weight of his huge eagle impressively balanced on the crook of his arm.
I experienced first hand the powerful brunt of these horses. About midway through the festival a horse threw it’s rider and pummeled me to the ground from behind. The force felt like being hit by a fast moving train. My cameras slammed hard into my face. There was no available water to even clean the deep gash that now bled profusely. Still, I’d waited 15 years to photograph this festival and the light was perfect. I tied a bandana around my eye and got my shots. Until I passed out. I was finally brought to a hospital where my face was stitched up it was determined that I had also suffered a concussion and fractured a rib. And if you look closely you can still the word Nikon etched into my cheekbone.


Alison Wright

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