A MAN who lives and farms near Presteigne and has been both an experienced horse rider and intrepid traveller, has written a book on his one man search for the tribal horse contests of Asia and Africa.

Bob Thompson’s 'Horse Games' is being published this weekend resulting from decades of travelling to some of the worlds most remote places to fulfil his passion for seeing the last vestiges of the skills of the war horse while they still remain, writes Barry Jones.

In the most difficult outreaches of the world he discovered the last remaining tribal horse games of Asia and Africa, from the buzhashi horsemen in Afghanistan and Mongolia, to the dancing horses of Mali and the mounted Oromo spearmen of Ethiopia.

He covers Gilgit polo, visits the Ethiopian stud, watches cirit and tent-pegging, and his journey takes him to such exotic places as Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Iran and Pakistan.

Bob, who lives and farms with his wife Sue at Court Farm, Kinnerton, started riding when he was six and rode in his first point-to-point on his way back to boarding school when he was just 16.

He was commissioned into The Life Guards (Household Cavalry) in 1966. and his time with them included taking part in a vividly recalled Cavalry Charge in 1971 and appearing with a false moustache in a TV series about Queen Victoria.

When he left the army to be the horse-roper for an expedition looking for the lost city of Firozhkoh in central Afghanistan and while watching a game of buzkashi (where the object is to take possession of a goat or calf which has to be dragged around two markers to score). He was told that a banned ancient horse game was still played somewhere in eastern Turkey and this initiated his lifelong quest.

Difficult to locate, with vague dates and often unpredictable weather, these spectacles became the object of adventures and memorable encounters with tented tribes and some friendly, as well as some hostile, horsemen providing expert displays using the equestrian skills in rare games, displays and sports left over from the need to train warrior horses.

There are glimpses of ancient cultures where horses and men spent long hours training for battle and the mutual trust between horse and rider can still be witnessed in these horses that survive.

Prepare to be whisked away to a world of wonders you have never dreamed existed to places so far off the beaten track that they could be from some fantasy novel, is there really so real a place as the Purvi Travel agency in downtown Divbrugarth in Northern Assam, or when did your neighbour say “I’m going to Nagaland for a week, then a couple of days in the game park at Kaziranga before going to Manas wildlife park for three days”.

While not travelling or farming, Bob also finds time to race at Cheltenham, a lot safer than trying to avoid being taken hostage by any one of 26 Manipur guerilla bands dedicated to fighting the Indian government for independence.

The book is packed with fascinating photographs taken by Bob who is determined to finding still undocumented equine cultures to be recorded before they disappear.