Goose Pulling was an ancient sport from the 17th up to the 19th centuries, in which a goose was hung by its legs from a pole or a rope, while a man on a horseback at a full gallop would attempt to grab the goose by the neck to try and pull its head off.
Of course animal rights groups would not allow such a sport to continue today. Use of live goose was banned in the 1920s. You may be surprsied to learn that the sport does continue, albeit in a modified form. Nowadays, they use a dead goose, which is much easier as the goose does not flap around making it difficult to grab.
The modern version of goose pulling is practiced in Belgium, Netherlands and German, though the goose is killed humanely by a veterinarian as part of Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday celebrations. The sport is held in some parts of Belgium and in Grevenbicht in the Netherlands as part of the town’s “Shrove Tuesday”, while it is part of “Shrove Monday” in some towns in Germany.
In the Netherlands, it is known as Ganstrekken, in Belgium it is Gansrijden and in Germany, it is Gänsereiten. Belgium goose pulling goes together with an intricate set of customs. The horseback rider who accomplishes in pulling the goose’s head off is “crowned” as the “king” for one whole year with a crown and mantle. At the end of his “king” reign, he has to indulge his “subjects” to a feast of beer, cigars and bread pudding or sausages that is held either at his house or the local pub. Kings compete with each other to become the “emperor”.
- The old blood sport of goose pulling
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