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Fighting horses
Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

As a new year is rung in on the Chinese calendar, cities throughout China celebrate with costumes, dancing, parades and fantastic foods. However, in some villages in China's southern Guangxi region a horrific tradition is still being carried out--horse fighting.

Horse fighting is usually carried out in Guangxi region villages like Tiantou once a year as part of the New Year tradition. However, because 2014 is the Year of the Horse, they intend to hold them more frequently. In these horse fights, two normally docile and skittish stallions are held near a mare in heat. Through the prodding of local horse trainers they are forced to fight over the mare that is held a few meters away. The male that successfully defends a position closest to the mare is the winner.

The horse will kick, bite and ram their way to victory. Trainer Pan Jianming, a 31 year old air conditioner repairman says, "If the stallion likes the female, it doesn't matter how much pain he is in, he will continue to fight." Pan Jianming's horse Little Black won this year's fight with a devastating bite to the neck of his opponent. Though Little Black won, Jianming's shirt was soaked in blood from his own horse's wounds.

Horse fight
Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The winning trainer's are awarded prizes of up to 10,000 Yuan (around $1,650). However in Tiantou, this large prize was split between the winners of fifteen bouts. That is 15 bouts of horses jumping in the air to crash their front hooves on opponents, fifteen bouts of neck biting, and fifteen bouts equalling to 30 injured stallions.

Spectators gather around this event with no barriers and no protection from the hundred pound furious clashing pair of stallions, placing bets and in general enjoying the spectacle. Animal rights groups around China and the world are appalled by this age old tradition. Chinese animal rights groups like Animals Asia based out of Hong Kong condemn the horrific practice. However, those within the villages like Tiantou say that it just would not be the New Year without the tradition of horse fighting.

While these villages also celebrate with the usual pageantry that happens throughout China on the New Year, this barbaric tradition is somewhat of a main attraction. Animal rights groups hope to stomp out anymore of these events from happening during the Year of the Horse and every other year, but the 500 year old tradition shows no signs of fading in popularity with the locals. This event represents the tenacity of the Chinese people who will fight to the last man for what they want, meaning they may fight fiercely to keep it.

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