In Morocco, an ancient tradition of horsemanship survives the test of time. Horse troupes from different parts of the kingdom gather to compete in a game of courage, skill and tradition.
The competitive, synchronized horse riding is known as Tabourida, or La’ab Al-Baroud, “The Game of Powder.” The display mimics and pays tribute to military parades performed by Arab and Berber tribes since the 15th century. It has become an integral display for many festivals across the country. Famed French artist Eugene Delacroix popularized Tabourida on canvas in the 19th century, dubbing it Fantasia, and the name has stuck.
Each troupe, or sourba, of 10 to 30 riders is judged on their synchronicity as a group. After lining up at the top of a track, wearing ceremonial robes and with their horses dressed in elaborate bridles and brightly-colored saddles, the lead rider calls out and the troupe races down the field.
After another signal from the leader, or muqadim, the riders brandish their guns and each fires a single shot in unison. The more synchronized the display, the louder the cheer from the crowds. It takes skill, talent and a lot of discipline.