Indonesia's child jockeys brave danger for cash and glory

Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:32am EST
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By Beawiharta

BIMA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Bareback jockey Herman Sarifudin guides his horse into the starting box for a race on Indonesia's Sumbawa island. The gate springs open and the horse bolts with Sarifudin clinging on for dear life.

Sarifudin is eight years old.

He's one of dozens of children taking part in the races. The horses are small, often standing just 1.20 meters (4 feet) tall. But even so, fathers have to help their children clamber on to them.

Sarifudin competed this week in a race against five other children around a dusty, oval track of 1,400 meters (nearly one mile) near Bima town. His reward, if he wins, is a handful of cash for his family, and the glory for him.

He was nervous before the race but once it got going, he and the other barefoot riders looked in control, urging their horses forward with a flick of a switch to the flanks.

In the end, Sarifudin came in third. He told Reuters he felt drained.

Mohammad Amin is a district government official who keeps horses as a hobby. He has 12 of them.

The children are light, that's why they're the jockeys, he explains.   Continued...

Child jockeys race their horses at a racetrack outside Bima, November 17, 2012. REUTERS/Beawiharta