Yak races are one of the most entertaining parts of a Tibetan horse festival. With a crowd of many thousands cheering on, each participant climbs on his yak and waits for the start of the race. As the race begins, 10 or 12 yaks run towards the opposite end of the race course in a sprint. Yaks can run surprisingly fast over short distances. The winner is usually given several khata (traditional Tibetan scarf) as well as a small amount of prize money.
The picture above is from the Jyekundo (Yushu in Chinese) Horse Festival in 2006. It was held 20km south of Jyekundo in the small town of Batang. Last year there was over 20,000 people in attendance. For the 2007 horse festival all 6 counties of Yushu Tibet Autonomous Prefecture will pool their money and resources together to have a huge festival in the prefecture capital of Jyekundo. It wouldn't be surprising to see 40,000 to 50,000 people in attendance.
Getting down to Jyekundo is easy. There are multiple buses everyday departing from Xining. The trip used to take 24 hours or longer, but can now be made in 15 or 16 hours. A sleeper bus ticket costs Y152 / $19 one way. A new bus line from Chengdu to Jyekundo started last year and takes 2+ days. There are also buses from Sershul (Shiqu) and Garze (Ganzi) to Jyekundo. For more information about Jyekundo or other areas of Tibet, please send an email firstname.lastname@example.org