Bima Horse Racing, Sumbawa, Indonesia

This region has been known since the 14th century for its sturdy horses. They are small and feisty and every year there is a week long event, where everyone gets to enter his horse into the national race. Altogether there were probably 500 horses, but only five race at one time.

The owners deck them out in colorful bridles with tassels and braids, but no saddles or reins. The jockey are young boys, between five and eight years old. They ride the horses bareback, gripping the bridle with one hand and brandishing the whip in the other. They have to be lifted up and placed on the horses, since they are so little and there are no stirrups. They are all barefoot, wearing flannel pajamas and kiddy's plastic bike helmets. Astoundingly, they are fearless; they seem almost bored as they are being held, waiting for the horse to settle down so they can mount. And once they are on, the handlers have a very hard time keeping the horses under control as they lead them to the starting gate. The race itself is wild, fast, short and dusty. All for fun!! No betting!!