Monday, 28 May 2018

Mongolia: Born To Ride

Afrida Ahmed

Mongolia’s horse races are long, fast and furious, source AL jazeera. And their riders are incredibly young. Five-year-old Babu is excited to join the ranks of 30,000 other child jockeys who take part in races across the country. He’s been training for months for his debut. The law requires jockeys to be at least seven years old and wear safety equipment. But in rural areas, this is rarely enforced. And it comes at a cost. When the children fall, they suffer painful injuries and sometimes, even death.Steve Chap on this edition of one on one East, he investigates whether Mongolia’s child jockeys are being exploited in the name of tradition. Here in Mongolia people love horses and they treat them like they are humans. At this time of year, Billy is up early on his motorbike training his prized racehorses. He said that their horses might look small when compared to overseas but they are very strong and race well in spring and summer. Billy and his family live in a remote area and he has 200 horses which are his pride and joy. This year carrying the families hope on his small shoulders is Billy’s five year old Bubble. There are 30000 child jockeys like him across Mongolia. By law they should be at least 7 years old but Billy says only small children compete in horse races and they start learning the ropes as toddlers. The reporter asked if Bubble is too young since he is just 5 years old. He said that horses were like ponies and it’s different from Western countries and that’s why children have to ride in race. At most the child should weigh 40 kilograms. Bubble is getting ready for his first race. Bubble is not scared at all. He said that first you have to call the horse then ride it and then whip it. Bubble dreams big and he wants to win in every race. Steve Chap can’t stop thinking whether he is matured enough to ride a stallion in a marathon race. Billy said that Bubble is very naughty but when he rides the horse he totally transforms. Bubble practices every morning and his father is always by his side.Mongolian racehorses begin their lives roaming wild on the steps. Billy took one of his horses out and Bubble will race on this horse next year. Nomadic herders like Billy can earn good money through racing. To understand how traditional horse-racing is changing Steve meets a professional trainer. Emm Bianca chic pays his child jockeys 250 dollars a month to race. The professional trainer chooses jockeys like he does these horses. He said that you just have to look at their body whether they are fit or not.The international Labour Organziation says Mongolia’s use of young jockeys is a dangerous form of child labour.



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