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Cossack Trick Riding Is Back In The UK

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A man performing Cossack trick riding

For a limited time, people in the UK can watch some Cossack trick riding! The famous Zippos Circus brought a novel equestrian act for the first time in 30 years, the Khadikov Jigit Riders from Kazakhstan.

Cossack Trick Riding Is Back In The UK

Trick riding is a delight to whoever watches it. It’s no wonder the word jigit means a brave or skillful equestrian: it takes both things to do it. Born in Central Asia, the practice grew popular among Russian Cossacks, many of whom came from Georgia. Trick riding combines showmanship with cavalry training. The moves include standing up on the saddle as the horse moves, hanging out of the saddle by the side of the horse, hanging under the horse’s belly, and other daring moves.

Cossack trick riding

The Khadikov Troupe has a tradition in Cossack trick riding. Image by Piet-Hein Out.

The Khadikov Jigit Riders (also known as Khadikov Cossack Riders) come from a long tradition of jigit riding. The troupe consists of Tamerlan Khadikov, his wife Helena, his mother Rimma and two other riders. Helena is also the first woman to show some of the jigit moves, in special the “high five”, where five people form a human pyramid atop two horses. Helena herself doesn’t come from a jigit tradition, though she was born from a circus family. She learned to trick ride after marrying Tamerlan, himself a jigit rider from childhood.

While they take their own horses, sometimes they’ll take a local horse as well, to complete the troupe. In England, they’ve taken one additional horse to their five. During the tour, the troupe makes sure the horses have a consistent routine and take care of the animals themselves. The horses show twice a day, for about fifteen minutes. There is also a practice time, outside the glamour and distractions of the circus ring.

Helena performing

Helena is one of the first women to perform certain trick riding moves in the history of jigit. Image by Piet-Hein Out.

Other than the trick riding, the circus counts with other attractions such as the “Brazilian daredevils”, performing their own 21st-century type of jigit — this time, on motorcycles.

If you’re interested in seeing the Khadikov Troupe and much more, you can check where Zippos will be and acquire your tickets here.

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