Bull Race in Madura island – East Java



Have you ever heard of cow racing? Yes, you heard it right, cow racing. We all know about horse racing, but cow racing? Do you even know that cow can run?

Karapan Sapi is a traditional sport from Madura Island, Indonesia. The sport is originated from local wisdom of the island. The soil of Madura Island is not fertile enough to cultivate, that’s why people use cows to plow the soil before planting seeds. People use 2 cows with bamboo to plow the soil, and it required strong cows to do the job. The origin of Karapan Sapi is to raise strong cows to plow the soil. It’s such an ancient tournament which still popular until now in the island.

Karapan Sapi is Madura’s annual traditional event. It is usually held at weekend between August to September, or usually before or after the fasting month of Ramadan. Winner of district level advances to regencey level and then to residence level in city of Pamekasan to compete for the Governor Cup.

The cows race in pair, with a standing bamboo cart for the jockey to ride the cow. The races are typically about 100 meters long and it takes about ten to fifteen seconds to finish. Before the race, each team showing off their cows in parade.

Cows are not naturally animal for racing, so they need to be trained twice or three times a week. It is costly to raise cows for racing, you have to spend a lot for their foods and supplement.

However, the tradition is often criticized because the jockey usually use whip with nails to make the cows run faster.


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