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The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay “A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Sept 2014 back issue
The Powder Game - Tbourida: Horsemen and Horses of the Moroccan Fantasia
by John Horniblow
Tbourida, also called ‘Powder game’, is a flurry of horses, riders, bright colours, dust and gunpowder smoke in simulation of a cavalry based military charge.  A troop of horse riders (sorba), wearing richly embroided and colourful traditional clothes, charge their decorated horses along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line with the purpose of finishing the charge by firing their muskets into the air at the same moment. This is a contest of speed, endurance, grace, discipline and manoeuvrability.  A difficult performance, requiring great horsemanship and skill in synchronizing the movement of the horses during acceleration of the charge, drawing the line of the charge up at one single point, halting just metres ahead of deep ranks of spectators to fire their muskets simultaneously, so that only one single resounding retort is heard.  Tbourida is a traditional and popular equestrian art inspired by the historical wartime attacks of the fiercely brave cavalrymen of Morocco. The colourful spectacle of Tbourida and its horsemen and horses, adorned in colorful tribal ceremonial dress, is widely practiced across all rural areas of Morocco to celebrate national and religious moussem (holidays), and forms part of the national cultural and recently passed, tribal identity of the country. The fantasias are staged on rectangular exercise grounds, defined by long walls of white campaign tents for the riding troops and their equipment, with interiors lit up by the distinctive internal panelling of Sherifian Morocco, emblems of the former age of Sultan’s caravans that travelled the country. Morocco’s fantasia are considered cultural performances akin to martial art. They symbolize the strong relationship between riders and their horses and more importantly Morocco keeps a vital memory of her history alive.  About the story; The Powder Game – Tbourida : Horsemen and Horses of the Moroccan Fantasia  is a photographic project  shot by writer and photographer John Horniblow who is currently living in Morocco. The photos in this story are part of an ongoing documentary , now two years in the making, sporadically shooting fantasia competitions across the country as part of an exhibition piece and photographic book.
Readying the shot, Moussem Moulay Abdellah.
Horsemen rest in their tent ahead of the evening’s ride, Oued Merzeg.
Muskets raised in mid charge, Oued Merzeg.
Reflective young horseman, prior to charge, Oued Merzeg.
Young berber girl pets a fantasia horse, Tafetachte.
Horseman and horse, Tafetachte.
Horsemen regather their horses amidst the gun smoke.  Ouled Haddou, Bouskoura
Riders enact a pratice charge ahead of their main charge, Seffrou.
The moment of the shot, Seffrou.
Riders, horses and dust, mid charge, Seffrou.
Rider amongst the cloud of gun smoke and dust at the end of a charge, Seffrou.
A dancer joins the post ride revelry of a fantasia troop. Seffrou.
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Cooling down in the summer heat  - Bathing horses in the ocean off the fishing beach, Moulay Abdellah.
Muskets raised for the final retort , Moussem Moulay Abdellah.
Corralling the trooping horses, Moussem Moulay Abdellah.
The hesitant line of horses and riders ahead of the impending charge, Oued Merzeg.
Fantasia riders in full flight, steadying to fire, Oued Merzeg.
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