Children in Indonesia take part in miniature horse race

Children as young as five years old have recently competed in a series of miniature horse races, situated near Bima, on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. The races are seen as a tradition and take place each year at the end of the rice harvesting season.

The races take place along a 1,400 metre dirt track. This year nearly 600 horses and owners, as well as 2,000 spectators travelled over for the occasion, with some from Bali and Flores. The event lasted for 11 days and the overall winner took home a cash prize of $100 (1,222,200 Indonesian Rupiah).

The children taking part in the races are usually considered the breadwinners of their families. They have been riding since the age of 4 and are often pulled out of school ten days before the event to train. Although there has been speculation as to whether the races break child labour laws, the event organiser states that “this is a tradition that has been passed down from our ancestors […] no child is forced to be a jockey here.” The children themselves however see it as a responsibility to feed their families.

Events like this help define the differences between cultures all around the world. Although Indonesian children are able to ride professionally from a young age, here in the UK, restrictions limit the age to over 16 years old. Riding boots are also a necessity here, whereas the children rode barefoot. One thing that differing cultures share however, is the upkeep of tradition and heritage.

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