GlobalPressJournal.com - Full Article
Horse racing is a time-honored tradition that often uses children as jockeys, despite the nation’s minimum working age laws — and the inherent dangers.
URGUUTIIN TAL, ARKHANGAI PROVINCE, MONGOLIA — Soyombo Myagmarsuren, 13, began racing when he turned 6, following in the footsteps of generations of horse trainers. “I love horses,” he says, beaming with pride. “It is cool to gallop on a horse mane until the wind whistles.”
These days, Soyombo walks with a limp. Last winter, he fell from a horse while training for a race.
So he did not race competitively in this year’s Naadam, a summer celebration of Mongolian sovereignty believed to have existed since the second century B.C. and held regularly since 1639. The internationally recognized celebration is referred to locally as the “Three Games of Men,” given its showcase of wrestling, archery and horse racing. These sports symbolize strength, wisdom and courage, respectively. (Despite the name, women and girls now also compete in the latter two.)
In the races, horses run courses of 12 to 26 kilometers (7 to 16 miles) across the steppe, depending on the animal’s age. And on their backs it is young boys and girls like Soyombo, typically between the ages of 6 and 13, whose courage is on display...
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