Can't recall where, but I found a reference to an interesting sounding book. So interesting, I bought it. It's called "The Last Wrestlers: A Far Flung Journey In Search of a Manly Art" by Marcus Trower.
The first chapter is about India. The second which I'm reading now is about Mongolia. As the author visits the different countries (there are further ones in the book), he asks questions about the history of wresting, the customs, if there is a spiritual connection and how the wrestlers live, train, eat and conduct themselves.
What struck me this evening were the explanations of of some of the Mongolian wrestlers and how they train and what makes them strong. Mongolia is a country of herdsmen who live from and with herds of cattle, yak, sheep, goats and of course horses. Through my other great passion - horses and horsemanship - I have read a little about Mongolian people and their horses. Over the years of my involvement with horses, I have seen and experienced horses in numbers and on a professional basis, much more so than the average recreational horse owners. Ok, so where's the connection you ask?
Well, as the author travels to the country outside Ulan Bataar to visit the places where great wrestlers come from, he stays with herdsmen and talks to many wrestlers. When asked how they train and learn and how they become strong, part of the answer is that they learn from a young age to handle livestock. They literally wrestle foals and grapple cows! I have to explain this a little more in detail. Unlike here (Australia) and where I come from (Europe), in Mongolia, it's a daily chore to tie up the foals and milk the mares. The milk is used in milk tea, straight or fermented as an alcoholic drink. It's a staple of the Mongolian diet. Apparently, they tie up the foals so they can't suckle. When the mares' udders are full, they lead each foal to it's dam, let it have a sip and then take it away to milk the mare and collect the milk for the humans. Some foals aren't keen on leaving and wrestling matches are common.
While I can't say I'm used to drinking mares' milk (especially not the fermented variety!), I certainly have milked mares on several occasions (it's more difficult than milking a cow). And having been in the stud and breeding business, I have certainly wrestled foals :-). Not so much to take them from their mothers, but sometimes to catch them or teach them to lead or to administer medications or trim their hooves. And yes, in one of my previous lives as jillaroo/stationhand, I've also grappled calves, even sheep. So I can kind of relate to the what the author is talking about. It certainly tickled my funny bone thinking how ironic it is that I have wrestled with people and with farm animals.
It is also funny that my relatively new interest in wrestling has such a strong connection - at least in Mongolia - to horses. Everything is linked. :-)