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The Unenviable Life Of A Horse Racing Jockey

jockeys racing horses in a race

Horse racing jockeys are a rare breed. These sportsmen and women dedicate their lives to their respective sports, but with jockeys, their lives are put on the line every time they turn up for work. Any profession where you are followed around by an ambulance as you work is an occupation restricted to only the bravest of souls.

Horse racing is usually something that is in the blood, with dreams of being involved in the industry in some capacity formulated at a young age.

Some potential riders fall by the wayside at an early stage, but some manage to make it through and forge a career in one of the most popular sports on the planet.

So, what makes a jockey tick, and what attributes must they possess to make it to the top?

© M Bandman

Dealing With Owners

Riding ability and strength of mind are the most important traits for any potential top jockey, but a little-known skill that they must also have in their arsenal is personality and professionalism when it comes to dealing with owners and trainers.

Racehorse ownership is, of course, dominated by well-known multi-millionaires, but with the continued popularity of racing syndicates, the parade ring is also now full of members of the general public who are living the dream of owning their own horses at a fraction of the price.

This means that jockeys must have the skill of dealing with owners from both ends of the scale, mixing it with the money men, but also involving themselves in the thrill that syndicates derive from watching their horses on the track.

Unique Fitness

Fitness is fitness, right? Well, not necessarily, particularly when it comes to that of a jockey. A jockey must possess a certain type of fitness that is not seen in many other sports. Weight, and the ability to control it, plays a big part in a jockey’s life

For years, riders had to use a mirage of unhealthy techniques to keep their bodies at an optimal weight, but, thankfully in the current era, jockeys are far more knowledgeable about their dietary requirements and exercise routines.

Strong stamina reserves are a must for the industry’s top riders. Strong leg and arm muscles are also necessary, with jockeys having to stand in their stirrups over distances of up to 4 miles, all the time controlling a half-tonne animal with both brains and brawn.


It may seem to many that riding racehorses is simply a case of sitting and steering, but that could not be further from the truth. Race riding is a skill.

The best jockeys in the world have the amazing ability to calm their horses down as they run in a race, using their hands and legs to settle their mounts into the pace required to challenge in different types of races.

Travelling at the proper pace in a certain race is vitally important to success. They say that the best jockeys have a clock in their head, meaning that they know exactly the pace required, whether it be for a 5-furlong sprint or a 4-mile steeplechase.

Horse racing may not be for everyone, and being a jockey takes a special type of sports star. As we have seen, jockeys are a special group of athletes.

They are brave, strong, intelligent, and of course, to do what they do, they also require just a little bit of crazy!