HUFFINGTON POST

Photographer Captures Bewitching Images Of Mongolian Child Jockeys Racing Across The Steppes

Purevsurengiin Togtokhsuren is just 13 years old, but he's already a seasoned jockey. This year marked his fifth time competing in the horse races of Naadam, Mongolia's annual summer festival. The festival celebrates the three "manly arts" of Mongolian society -- horse racing, wrestling and archery. 

Johannes Eisele photographed Purevsurengiin on July 8-11 during the Naadam races in Khui Doloon Khudag, near Ulaanbaatar.

Purevsurengiin's parents sent him to work as a jockey after a severe winter in 2010, the AFP reports. Mongolian child jockeys usually earn about $250 a month for their families, while their coaches pay for their food and school.

Mongolian races are far longer than Western ones, and Naadam courses can be anything from 15 to 30 kilometers long (nine to 18 miles) depending on the age of the horse. Despite a strong performance in 2014, Purevsurengiin came in 30th place in this year's race.

UNICEF has raised concerns about the safety of child jockeys. Two children were killed and 24 more were injured in the 2013 Nadaam races. "The use of children as jockeys for the purpose of making profit or entertainment is a violation of children's right to protection from exploitation and harmful labour and places them in great danger," it said in a statement. 

 

  • Purevsurengiin Togtokhsuren watches a horse rolling in the dirt after a training session. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE&nb
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin Togtokhsuren watches a horse rolling in the dirt after a training session. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE 
  • Purevsurengiin taking care of the horses. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE 
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin taking care of the horses. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE 
  • Purevsurengiin passing a herd of sheep as he rides his horse next to a friend. 
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin passing a herd of sheep as he rides his horse next to a friend. 
  • Purevsurengiin Togtokhsuren riding his horse during his training session.
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin Togtokhsuren riding his horse during his training session.
  • Purevsurengiin (R) riding his horse with a friend while his coach watches from a car during his training session. 
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin (R) riding his horse with a friend while his coach watches from a car during his training session. 
  • Purevsurengiin being fitted into his racing uniform to compete in the "Inkhnas" horse race during the Naadam.
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin being fitted into his racing uniform to compete in the "Inkhnas" horse race during the Naadam.
  • Purevsurengiin in his racing uniform as he awaits the "Khyazaalan" (four year old) horse race.
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin in his racing uniform as he awaits the "Khyazaalan" (four year old) horse race.
  • Purevsurengiin (front L) arriving at the starting line to compete in the "Inkhnas" (over five-year-old horses) horse race.&nb
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin (front L) arriving at the starting line to compete in the "Inkhnas" (over five-year-old horses) horse race. 
  • Purevsurengiin having a drink after riding in the "Khyazaalan" (four-year-old) horse race.
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Purevsurengiin having a drink after riding in the "Khyazaalan" (four-year-old) horse race.
  • Riders taking part in the "Inkhnas" (over five-year-old horses) horse race. Mongolian horses are bred for stamina and distanc
    Johannes Eisele/AFP Photo
    Riders taking part in the "Inkhnas" (over five-year-old horses) horse race. Mongolian horses are bred for stamina and distances are far longer than in Western racing. 
  • Purevsurengiin taking care of the horses. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE 
    AFP/Getty Images
    Purevsurengiin taking care of the horses. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE 
  • Purevsurengiin (L) next to his friends praying during a 'Tsatsal urgukh' (giving milk to the gods) ceremony at sunrise on a h
    AFP/Getty Images
    Purevsurengiin (L) next to his friends praying during a 'Tsatsal urgukh' (giving milk to the gods) ceremony at sunrise on a hill close to his 'yurt'. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE