The audience film the action on their tablets and smartphones as the annual Pasola horse fighting festival kicks off. The Pasola festival marks the start of the rice planting season. It involves groups of competitors on horseback who compete as village teams. A rider breaks from the ranks of his village to charge and try to score a hit with his spear on a rival villager, also on horseback. Most riders compete riding bareback, using their feet to expertly steer their horses. Until recent times the spears they threw were real ones, now substitute sticks are used, but injuries still occur, often among the audience. The native Sumba Pony is descended from the Mongolian Horse and ancient Chinese stock and rarely stands more than 13 hands high. It is typical for islanders to ride them bareback, guiding them with their feet.