@pastanaga - I think it was always tradition for a camel jockey to be a child in some countries. It goes back to a time when the lot of children, particularly poor children, was different.
It just took them a while to catch up with the attitudes that are expected towards children now, in most of the world.
It used to be that horse racing jockeys were much younger as well. The maximum age is a relatively recent phenomenon for horse racing entries.
I have always found it kind of interesting that a jockey is hired for each race, and might not know the horse all that well. I always thought of it as kind of a romantic thing to do, and that you would form a bond with the horse.
But they wouldn't be able to do that if there wasn't much contact with the horse before or after the race. You'd just have to hope that the horse was well trained and that it liked you well enough to do its best in the races.