Indonesia’s child jockeys brave danger for cash and glory



REUTERS

Published — Sunday 25 November 2012

Last update 25 November 2012 5:50 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

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.
“Children learn to ride horses from the age of five,” he said.
About 2,000 cheering spectators crowded around the track.
Hami, a grandfather, was desperate to sell off his nearly new Nokia mobile telephone phone so he could put some money down.
Haji Sukri, 45, chairman of the race organizing team scoffed at the danger. The children were all skilful riders and none had been killed, and none seriously hurt, he said.
One child toppled off on to the dusty track at a recent race. His father quickly picked him up and carried him off, in tears.
“It’s OK to fall off a horse,” said taxi driver Irwansyah.
“My concern is that they should be in school, not racing horses. They can miss school for 10 days for just one event.”
The races have been held at the end of the rice-harvesting season ever since anyone can remember.
Horses are used throughout Indonesia, an archipelago of about 17,000 islands that straddles the equator, more often for pulling carts and buggies than for riding.
This year, the races near Bima lasted for 11 days and attracted nearly 600 horses, many from the nearby islands of Sumba, Bali, Lombok and Flores.
The grand prize was one million rupiah ($ 100). Those who win their groups get two cows.
One of the young stars this year was 11-year-old Mohammad Endiansyah, known as Endi, who has taken a two-month break from school for the racing season.
The punters say he’s a great rider, an expert at handling the horses. His father, Asikin, said he earned 15 million rupiah ($ 1,500) in the last two months from different races.
“A horse is like a friend,” Endi said. “I’ve fallen, been sick and cried but no horse has ever stepped on me.”
Endhi said he wanted to be a policeman when he grows up.
“But I’d also like to be a professional jockey,” he said. ($ 1 = 9,633.0000 rupiah)

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A small fire broke out on the roof of the Grand Mosque on Monday morning, causing minor injuries to five people, including members of the Civil Defense, one security officer and three workers. The fire broke out at about 2 a.m. and covered an...
JEDDAH: The director general of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority, Saleh Rasheed, has said that Sadeer Industrial City, which is regarded as one of the largest industrial cities in the Kingdom, possesses great capabilities that sets it apart as...
DAMMAM: Cheap and out of date cosmetics are causing serious health problems in the Kingdom, including skin diseases, hair loss and cancer, local doctors say.These products are often manufactured incorrectly or contain harmful fats, the doctors were q...
JEDDAH: Several young Saudis have started filming Jeddah’s historic district using cameras mounted on drones to gather professional 3D footage that can be used to build models and create virtual tours.Bandar Al-Mutlaq, owner of the Arab Foundation, w...
RIYADH: The Saudi capital is fully geared for this year’s Eid Al-Fitr celebrations that include an exciting bouquet of entertainment, heritage, sports, artistic and theatrical events.The annual Muslim festivities being organized here by the Riyadh mu...
JEDDAH: As part of its growing supervisory and investigative status, Riyadh Health Department’s forensics center examined 632 cases over the past eight months involving suspected murder, rape and abuse of women and children.Khaled bin Muhammad Hassan...
RIYADH: The Syrian Expatriates Medical Association (SEMA) expressed its thanks on Monday to Saudi organizations and individuals for donating to the campaign to help Syrians affected by the ongoing conflict.SEMA has 1,300 members in Syria and other co...
RIYADH: Inclusion of the Hail rock art in the UNESCO World Heritage List is proof of the Kingdom’s status and cultural profoundness, said the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) on Monday.Reacting to the announcement of the fou...
JEDDAH: The Yemeni community has asked the Saudi government to extend the rectification process, which ends Tuesday, claiming that there are many thousands still seeking to get proper identification documents to qualify for work visas in the Kingdom....
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has set up 343 electoral constituencies for the Dec. 12 municipal council elections.This was done on the orders of Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, the minister and head of the General Committee for the Munici...
JEDDAH: Efforts are under way to electronically handle all Haj-related works to achieve speed and accuracy, as well as reduce costs an bring in transparency, Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar has said.Speaking at a workshop in Jeddah on Sunday, Hajjar sa...
JEDDAH: The Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah International Foundation for Charity and Humanitarian Works on Sunday held its third meeting in Jeddah in the presence of Prince Khaled bin Abdullah, the board chairman, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has announced that six people were infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the period from June 28 to July 6.The ministry has now recorded 1,045 cases of MERS since June 2012, with 5...
ALKHOBAR: Patient visitations play an important role in the healing process, provided the well-wishers adopt the right approach by speaking and acting in a manner that the sick person’s morale is lifted. However, any wrong move by the visitor may aff...
MAKKAH: The price of residential land has registered a drastic 30 percent drop due to the slump in the market over the past six months, said an online newspaper.According to real estate dealers, the reason behind the decision was the imposition of 30...

Stay Connected

Facebook