Indonesia’s child jockeys brave danger for cash and glory


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

The Kingdom has shared very friendly relations with the United States since the beginning of bilateral ties in the 1930s when full diplomatic relations were established. Despite all the ups and downs in recent years on certain policies, especially on...
AL-NAIRIYA: Women in Al-Nairiya governorate have called on the government to only allow gender-based voting because they believe this would allow women to get places on the new municipal councils.Nouf Al-Otaibi, a businesswoman in the area, said men...
RIYADH: Women in Saudi Arabia have been allocated a package of services to ensure their development and employment, Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani said Tuesday.The minister was speaking at the first panel discussion at the second National Business...
JEDDAH: Security authorities in Turaif in the Northern Border Province have arrested a young man in his 20s for killing his parents and wounding his siblings at their house on Wednesday.The arrested man reportedly used a sharp object to kill his pare...
The Date and Palm Festival, organized by the Royal Commission for Jubail (RCJ) at the Al-Fanateer waterfront in Jubail Industrial City, has received more than 90,000 visitors since its launch last Thursday.In addition, on Sunday the event received mo...
JEDDAH: Over two million animals would be available for slaughter this Haj season, according to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).Suleiman Al-Jabri, chairman of the JCCI’s livestock traders committee, said that more than 1 million sh...

Stay Connected