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 racing at speeds of up to 80 kms per hour. Their only protection is the « Sandro », a spiritual healer who protects young jockeys by performing elaborate rituals and guiding them in training. 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 5 to 6 times a day for a week, pushed by parents and relatives given the potential earnings that far outweigh the poor returns on crops often plagued by drought.
Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters, a well-known photo agency in Belgium. He has illustrated over thirty books dedicated to China, Persia, the Renaissance, Ancient Rome, the Gardens of Europe, Thailand, Tuscany, Crete, Vietnam, Budapest, Venice, the Abbeys of Europe, Natural Sites of Europe, etc. Belgian titles include, « Le Carnaval de Binche vu par 30 Photographes », and « Processions de Foi, Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse ». Publications include National Geographic, Geo, Paris-Match,…
He has won many international awards including a Japan Nikon Award 2017 for the Rohingya series, the TPOTY Travel Photographer of the Year Award 2017 with the series Living for Death and the series Kushti, and 1st prize at World Press Photo 2018 for the series Kid Jockeys in the category Sports Stories,… and participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide. He is represented in Belgium by Reporters and in France by the photo agency HEMIS. [Official Website]