Tent pegging (sometimes spelled tent-pegging or tentpegging) is a cavalry sport of ancient origin, and is one of only ten equestrian disciplines officially recognised by the International Equestrian Federation. Used narrowly, the term refers to a specific mounted game with ground targets. More broadly, it refers to the entire class of mounted cavalry games involving edged weapons on horseback, for which the term "equestrian skill-at-arms" is also used.


Cavaliers have practised the specific game of tent pegging since at least the 4th century BC, and Asian and later European empires spread the game around the world. As a result, the game's date and location of origin are ambiguous.[1]

In all accounts, the competitive sport evolved out of cavalry training exercises designed to develop cavaliers' prowess with the sword and lance from horseback. However, whether tent pegging developed cavaliers' generic skills or prepared them for specific combat situations is unclear.[2]

According to the International Equestrian Federation, "most equestrian authorities are of the opinion that tent-pegging originated in India in the middle ages in the battle fields as a tactics used by the horsed cavalry against elephant mounted troops"[3] A cavalier able to precisely stab the highly sensitive flesh behind an elephant's toenail would cause the enemy elephant to rear, unseat his mahout, and possibly run amok, breaking ranks and trampling infantry. However, other scholarly sources suggest that the sport originated earlier in Central Asia[4] or the Middle East[5] and was later on popularised in India.

The term "tent pegging" is certainly related to the idea that cavaliers mounting a surprise pre-dawn raid on an enemy camp could use the game's skills to sever or uproot tent pegs, thus collapsing the tents on their sleeping occupants and sowing havoc and terror in the camp. However, there are few reliable accounts of a cavalry squadron ever employing such tactics.

Because the specific game of tent pegging is the most popular equestrian skill-at-arms game, the entire class of sports became known as tent pegging during the twilight of cavalry in the twentieth century.

Essential rules

The specific game of tent pegging has a mounted horseman riding at a gallop and using a sword or a lance to pierce, pick up, and carry away a small ground target (a symbolic tent peg) or a series of small ground targets.

The broader class of tent pegging games also includes ring jousting (in which a galloping rider tries to pass the point of his weapon through a suspended ring); lemon sticking (in which the rider tries to stab or slice a lemon suspended from a cord or sitting on a platform); quintain tilting (in which the rider charges a mannequin mounted on a swivelling or rocking pedestal); and Parthian (i.e., mounted) archery.[6]

A given tent pegging competition's rules specify the size and composition of the target; the number of consecutive targets placed on a course; the dimensions and weight of the sword, lance, or bow; the minimum time in which a course must be covered; and the extent to which a target must be struck, cut, or carried.[7]

Contemporary sport

Today, tent pegging is practised around the world, but is especially popular in Australia, India, Israel, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The Olympic Council of Asia included tent pegging as an official sport in 1982, and the International Federation for Equestrian Sports recognised it as an official equestrian discipline in 2004.

From the results of the 2008 International Tent Pegging Championships, the world's three leading national teams are currently Canada, India, and Oman.[8] Members of cavalry regiments and mounted police forces remain dominant in world-class tent pegging.[9]

The United States Tent Pegging Federation is working on introducing tent pegging on the sidelines of polo in the United States. In late 1990s, many efforts were made mostly solo efforts by individuals like H.E Prince Malik Ata Khan and Maharaja of Dunlod, H.E Raghuvendra Pratap Singh to promote tent pegging in USA. EFI tent pegging pioneers provided much encouragement to export tent pegging to the USA. Also H.E Prince Malik Ata Khan, the icon of modern-day tent pegging supported the idea of formation of a Tent Pegging as an organized sport in the USA. All of their thrust was to establish an organization in the United States so that USA could represent itself on the international front. At present the USTPF, working hard to promote Tent Pegging in the USA. The promotion efforts include two Tent Pegging Training Clinics initiated in October 2014 and June 2015 to compete in the international Arena. The USTPF was recognized by the USEF as Alliance Partner in 2015 and an NGB for Tent Pegging in the USA. The USEF granted the Alliance Partnership to the USTPF with permanent Alliance Partnership number 5347848.

New and emerging national tent pegging associations have helped spread the sport's popularity. The Australian Royal Adelaide Show,[10] the British Tent Pegging Association,[11] and the United States Cavalry Association[12] now hold annual national championships and demonstrations in their respective countries.

In Pakistan tent pegging is known as Neza Bazi as well. It is played in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some parts of Sindh and Balochistan, it is the unofficial provincial sport of Balochistan, Pakistan. There are many clubs who have owned different and unique style of Turban and Waistcoat to identify their clubs. People decorate their horses for the competition. Every club arrange a neza bazi competition. All clubs are invited to participate in the competition. There are some specific shows being arranged since many decades. National Horse and Cattle Show is one of them. It is held at the Fortress Stadium Lahore every year usually in end of February or at first week of March. Tent pegging is a part of this event. Clubs from all the districts of Pakistan participates there.[13]

The pre-eminent tent pegging games remain centred in Asia and the Middle East, with the International Tent Pegging Championships and the continental Asian Games traditionally enjoying the highest number of competitors and participating states.[14]

Governing bodies

The recognised international governing body of Tent Pegging is International Tent Pegging Federation. The ITPF headquarters are located in Muscat, Oman. It was founded as World Tent Pegging Federation in 2013 by representatives from England, Australia and South Africa, Pakistan, India and others renamed the World Tent Pegging Federation in 2014, and took up its current name in the same year. Essentially ITPF is very new and does and does not have full world recognition and not all countries which play tent pegging are its members. Also ITPF is the largest equestrian body in the world that recognizes and governs tent pegging competitions.[15][16]

Tent pegging being primarily a foreign game from the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, and was faded from the equestrian sports map of the USA. However, Tent Pegging was well known prior to the World War II in the continental USA. As a need of present times, with tent pegging being played in many countries around the world, USTPF came into existence as a National Governing Body for Tent Pegging and to promote tent pegging domestically and represent USA internationally. USTPF was formed in 2013 in USA. USTPF participated in many international events the 2016 and USA secured the place in the International Tent Pegging arena.

The ITPF has 28 members: The ITPF is responsible for the organisation and governance of Tent Pegging's major international tournaments, notably the Tent Pegging World Cup. It also appoints the judges and referees that officiate at all matches and events. Each nation has a national federation which regulates Tent pegging events played in its country. The Tent pegging federation also selects the national squad and organizes home and away tours for the national team.


The ITPF has 28 members countries in beginning. Following are the members of the federation. Oman, Pakistan, Yemen, India, USTPF, Tentpegging Germany, British Tent Pegging Association, Australian Tentpegging Federation, Afghanistan, South Africa, UAE, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Norway, Sudan, Qatar, Netherlands Association for Mounted Skill-at-Arms 'Saint Georges' (NVBW), Namibia, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Iranian Tentpegging Association, Canada, Bahrain, and Denmark.[17]

International Competitions

Since its formation the ITPF has organised several international competitions.

First Tent Pegging World Cup 2014

After the formation of the federation, the world body decided to launch their own World Cup competition. The first and the inaugural Tent Pegging World Cup was organised by the Oman Equestrian Federation (OEF) at Al Rahba Farm, Barka, Oman from March 31 to April 4, 2014. The participant countries were Pakistan, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, South Africa, Britain and Australia who qualified the Sudan and Pakistan qualifying events in January and February respectively.[18]

South African team with World cup trophy 2014

South Africa won the event by a total of 758.5 points and clinch the enviable honour of being the first world champions. Oman got second position with 693.5 points. Sudan, who finished with 654 points, took the third place.[19]

International Championships & World Cup history

Year Host Nation(s) Final Venue Final
Winner Result Runner-up
Al Rahba Farm, Muscat, Oman,
 South Africa
758.5 points
South Africa won by 65 runs  Oman
693.5 points

* The World Cup began in 2014

International & World championships

One of the first International tent Pegging Championships were held in the State of Hyderabad, India in 1985 with many International Teams participating under the aegis of Equestrian Federation Of India (EFI).

International & World Championships are held among countries consisted on different number of teams. Venues are selected through negotiations. There are major events in tent pegging. Oman, South Africa, Pakistan, England, India and Australia hosts the international championships regularly. Other countries also organize the events at different times.

These International Events in Tent Pegging being held in New Delhi over the years considered because of various factors with the maximum participation from the countries all over the World. No other Tent Pegging International Event held anywhere in the World over the years can be compared with it. No other country has the availability of resources that India has in terms of horses and expertise.

2007 International Tent pegging Championship Oman

  • The 2007 International Tent Pegging Championships were held in Muscat, Oman. This event was rare of its kind as each continent was represented by a single national team: Europe by Britain, whose team came from the Household Cavalry and the Royal Horse Artillery; the Middle East by Oman, whose team came from the Royal Cavalry; Asia by Pakistan; Africa by South Africa, whose team had been selected from national civilian trials; the North America by Canada, whose team was led by Akaash Maharaj and last year's champion, India, whose team came from multiple branches of their armed forces.[20]

2013 World Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship, New Delhi. USA made history in March 2013! Team USA was represented by Ahmed Husain Zubair under the banner of USTPA (Trademark registration filed in 2011) participated in the 2013 World Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship and put USA on the world Tent Pegging map for the first time in history. At the conclusion of this world championship, in March 2013, WTPF (now ITPF) was founded with USA represented by Ahmed Husain Zubair from USTPA as one of its founding member countries.

2015 Asian & International Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship, New Delhi. These are the only International Events hailed as Mega Events in Tent Pegging being held in New Delhi over the years considered because of various factors with the maximum participation from the countries all over the World. No other Tent Pegging International Event held anywhere in the World over the years can be compared with it. No other country has the availability of resources that India has in terms of horses and expertise.

The Asian & International Tent Pegging Championship 2015 was held at GautamBudh University, Gr. Noida, New Delhi from 10 to 15 March 2015. Sudan won the Gold Medal. The countries participated are Sudan, Oman, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Russia, India, USA, Pakistan, Great Britain, Lebanon and Germany.

In this edition of Penta Grand 2015, the Great Noida Horse show was also organised. It included an open competition for all riders of the country in 68 event disciplines including show jumping, pegging, endurance, hacks, gymkhana events. Various categories for participation of children were available in the gymkhana events.

Popular culture references

In George McDonald Fraser's Flashman novels, title character Harry Flashman served in a lancer regiment, and frequently mentions tent pegging and his broader skills with the lance.


  1. ^ "Tent pegging at Hurlingham", Illustrated London News, Summer 1875
  2. ^ Lenox-Conyngham Papers, "Camp on the Raptee River", Cambridge University Centre of South Asian Studies, 16 January 1859
  3. ^ "Tent pegging recognised by the FEI", International Equestrian Federation, 2004, retrieved 19 March 2012
  4. ^ Gen Sir Richard Gale, Kings at Arms London:Hutchinson, 1971, p.9
  5. ^ Prof Philip K Hitti, A History of the Arabs, London:Macmillan, 1949 ed, pp.20-21
  6. ^ "Tent pegging with UNICEF Team Canada", Akaash Maharaj, 2007, retrieved 14 January 2007
  7. ^ Major General RKR Balasubramanian, Rules for Tent Pegging (First Edition), International Equestrian Federation, June 2002
  8. ^ Kangla, 14 January 2008, retrieved 21 January 2008
  9. ^ "Tent pegging competition cancelled", United States Equestrian Federation, 20 January 2004, retrieved 31 May 2006
  10. ^ "Main Arena Program (2013)". The Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of SA Inc. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Up in arms to peg back cavalry regiments", Equestrian Today, 15 August 2005, retrieved 2 June 2006
  12. ^ "The National Cavalry Competition", US Cavalry Association, 2006, retrieved 2 June 2006
  13. ^ 'nocadmin', "National Horse And Cattle Show", Pakistan Adventures, June 2, 2011.
  14. ^ "Indian riders to the fore", The Sportstar, 22 March 2003, retrieved 2 June 2006
  15. ^ "Times of Oman News :: Oman all set for International Tent Pegging Federation". timesofoman.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  16. ^ worldtentpegging.com (not in English)
  17. ^ "Contacts International Tent Pegging Federation اﻻتحاد الدولى لﻻلتقاط اﻻوتاد". worldtentpegging.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  18. ^ "Times of Oman News :: Tent pegging family dreams big". timesofoman.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  19. ^ "Times of Oman News :: SA champions, Oman second at the Tent Pegging World Cup". timesofoman.com. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  20. ^ Maharaj, Akaash (16 March 2007). "Article: Akaash gives details of the events". maharaj.org. Canada. 

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