On dusty tracks, with a single wooden fence separating sportsman from spectator, the horses flash by.


Panda racetrack, Sumbawa Island. | (Putu Sayoga)


These races do not call to mind those at iconic American tracks such as Churchill Downs, though. There are not even saddles for the riders — and helmets? Hardly. The jockeys look different, too — a little smaller. That's because here, on Indonesia's Sumbawa Island, the riders are children, some as young as 5 years old.


Adriansyah, 10 years old, poses for a portrait. | (Putu Sayoga)


Riders compete at Lepadi racetrack. | (Putu Sayoga)


Photographer Putu Sayoga, 29, spent more than a week with Indonesia's smallest jockeys, during the annual races that take place after the rice-harvesting season ends, usually sometime between April and July. Horses are an integral part of life on Sumbawa Island; people use them for transportation, in the fields, and of course, at the racetracks.

The tradition of racing with child jockeys is one that has been passed down from generation to generation; safety concerns aside, Sayoga says the practice is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

"(The parents) are very supportive of their kids racing, because they get money to support the family, and most of them are working as farmers," he says.


Mohammad Amin helps his son Aldin, 9, remove his gear after a race at their house in Lepadi Village. | (Putu Sayoga)


Aldin Amin carries a sack of grass that he will use to feed his horse. | (Putu Sayoga)


Aldin Amin feeds his horse before a race. | (Putu Sayoga)


Sayoga shadowed several of the jockeys closely, and he says he was especially struck by how quickly they must grow up in order to compete at the tracks. Aldin Amin (pictured above) is just 9 years old, but he is already in his fourth season as a competitive jockey.

"His parents, a peasant and a housewife, are very supportive of Aldin becoming a jockey," Sayoga says. "He frequently wins, and receives prizes such as a motorcycle and a cow."

The tangible winnings come at a price, though; Aldin skips so many days of school to train or race that while he should be in the third grade, he has only made it to first.

A man walks his horse toward the river. | (Putu Sayoga)


Caretakers bathe the horses at Kalaki Beach. | (Putu Sayoga)


The races themselves are wild — a cacophony of gamblers shouting bets, horses thundering around the track, and, at the center of it all, the tiny jockeys, captured in their dusty moment in the sun.


Adriansyah, 10, rides during a free practice at Lepadi racetrack. | (Putu Sayoga)


Adriansyah rides his horse at Lepadi racetrack. | (Putu Sayoga)


**See more of Putu Sayoga's work via his website, and follow him on Instagram**