Bareback & Barefooted | Child Labor Providing Favorite Pastime In Moyo Island, Indonesia

 

Photographer Alain Schroeder is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From the project ‘Kid Jockeys’ To see Alain’s body of work, click on any image.

 

Young jockey Eggi (7years old) is carried off the track after being thrown from his horse near the finish. He’s back in the race the following day despite his bruises.

 

Sandro, Haji Abdul Latif (69) holds a jimal (amulet) over his grandson’s head and recites a prayer to give 6 year old Aldiansah strength and keep him safe. The Sandro is the spiritual healer who protects young jockeys by performing elaborate rituals and guiding them in training. Aldiansah, who started riding at age 3, eats a hearty breakfast in preparation for 5 races today. He is not afraid.

 

After a day of racing, horses are taken for a cooling bath. All the kids in the neighborhood take advantage of the moment to play with the horses in the river. Here a young jockey playfully bonds with his horse outside the serious atmosphere of the racetrack.

 

A child jockey straddles the starting gate in anticipation of mounting his horse. Behind, trainers prepare to position the horses in the blocks.

 

Once a game between neighbors to celebrate a good harvest, horse racing was transformed into a spectator sport by the Dutch in the 20th century to entertain officials and nobility. The unique features of Sumbawa racing are the notoriously small horses and fearless child jockeys, aged 5-10, who mount bareback, barefoot and with little protective gear. Maen Jaran (the Indonesian name of the game) takes place during important festivals and holidays throughout the year at racetracks across the island and remains a favorite pastime for Sumbawans. Rules have evolved, horses are now classified by age and height, yet kid jockeys continue to risk their lives for 3,50 to 7 euros per mount often racing many times in one day, and every day during the racing week, pushed by parents and relatives given the potential earnings that far outweigh the poor returns on crops often plagued by drought.

 

Horse racing or Maen Jaran, is a favorite pastime in Sumbawa, Indonesia. Kid jockeys race at speeds of up to 80 kms per hour. They will mount 5 to 6 times a day for several consecutive days. For 3,50 to 7 euros per mount.

 

A jockey prepares for the gate to open as his trainer leans over him to make some final adjustments.

 

Boys climb into the trees along the track for a good view of the race.

 

Every jockey is accompanied onto the track by his Sandro where he, the numbered jersey he’ll wear and the horse he will ride are blessed before each race. The boy is then handed off to the trainer who will carry the young jockey down the long straightaway to the starting gate.

 

All images and text © Alain Schroeder

 

 

See also:

Gallery of Books

By Alain Schroeder

 

 

 

 

 

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