Most Dagestani men are born horsemen and have roamed the plains and mountains of this remote North Caucasus republic for hundreds of years. They have a reputation as fierce warriors.
When out riding, all the men bear arms and wear the traditional woollen hat known as a 'papakha'. Zurab, my guide, led me over the high passes from his village to the nearest town, always keeping an eye open for bears, bandits...and the Russian military, who frequently raid the mountains in a bid to subjugate the more troublesome Islamic regions. It's a conflict that has raged for centuries, going back to the 1780's.