How do I Become a Horse Racing Jockey?

Patrick Roland

A person doesn't simply join the high school team or try out for a college squad if you want to become a horse racing jockey. You must be knowledgeable about horses, willing to do the dirty work, and above all, have patience. Of course, learning to ride is a key element, and working at a stable or racetrack can provide good experience. Getting a start in horse racing doesn't happen overnight.

Jockeys must stay between 115 and 120 pounds.
Jockeys must stay between 115 and 120 pounds.

The first and most important element is being familiar with horses. Without this, the other steps along the career path are pointless and one will never become a horse racing jockey. The best way to gain this exposure is by learning to ride and care for horses. This experience can help you learn how horses behave and what is the best way to control these powerful animals.

A horse racing jockey must be able to control horses while moving at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
A horse racing jockey must be able to control horses while moving at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

If you still want to become a horse racing jockey at this point, you may want to get a job at a racetrack or with a horse racing stable. Both will provide opportunities to cool-down horses after a race, groom them, and "exercise" horses. Exercising a horse involves riding a horse around a race course at a gallop,in order to give the animal practice. All of these elements contribute to an overall understanding of horses and races, which is essential for a successful jockey.

Weight and fitness are often overlooked by beginners. Someone who wants to become a horse racing jockey must stay between 115 and 120 pounds (52.16 and 54.43 kg), since there are strict weight limits for riding racehorses. This can be a challenge, since a jockey must also be physically fit and strong in order to withstand the abuse of jockeying. Jockeys strictly limit their calorie intake, in some cases eating little more than a few pieces of toast for a meal.

When you feels you have the proper training and physique to be a thoroughbred jockey, the next step is participating in schooling races. These are specially designed events to teach new jockeys how to properly come out of the gate and handle a horse during a real race. This is an essential learning tool that even the most famous jockeys once dealt with.

Finally, with all his experience and knowledge under your belt, you may need to apply for a license. A license is mandatory in many places to become a horse racing jockey. Like a driver's license, this proves you understand the rules of the race track and are a competent rider. From this point, you are now considered a jockey and can begin riding professionally.

A horse racing jockey is at constant risk of falling from the horse and sustaining trauma to the brain.
A horse racing jockey is at constant risk of falling from the horse and sustaining trauma to the brain.

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Discussion Comments


I still definitely want to be a Jockey, no matter how dangerous it is!


I would really love to be a horse racing jockey, but I know it's never going to happen now.

And I enjoy being around horses so much but I don't think I'd really like to race them. I've heard too much about what goes on in those races to really feel comfortable with it.

Even if it's completely above board, the horses are being pushed to the edge of their endurance, which isn't great for their health.

And there are still awful things done in order to win, like drugging the horses, or pushing them until their lungs bleed, or racing them to the point where their legs fracture.

It's those kinds of horse racing secrets that make me not want to have much to do with the races. If I were a jockey, I'd feel complicit in those kinds of actions.

I'd rather just stick to having a couple of horses at home and treat them like pets, occasionally going for a bit of a ride.


@Mor - It certainly helps to be short, but I know a few people who are naturally slender and wiry who would be able to be a jockey even though they are average in height.

Some people are just naturally very skinny. I think it's more to do with passion and wanting to be around horses.

But if you want to compete with horses and you are too tall to be a jockey, why not get into dressage or some other kind of horse riding sport? Or maybe a rodeo style race or something.

Those sports are more reliant on skill and training than other horse racing systems are, and I don't think it would matter how tall you were.

Of course, in any case you'll need to be working with horses and training yourself every single day, as there are a lot of other people who compete.


When it comes right down to it, if you really want to be a jockey you will have to be short and preferably male. That's not always going to be true, I know that there are female jockeys and there are some that are taller than others.

But it's very difficult to get your weight down to the point it needs to be if you are too tall, and if you are female, it can be too difficult to maintain strength and fitness at the weight you need to be.

Not impossible, mind you, but difficult.

It's just like being an astronaut. I'm really tall for a woman, but I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger. I mean, it's not likely I would have ever been one anyway, but my hopes were really dashed when I realized the tallest one was about half a foot shorter than me.

Some professions just suit short people better, simply because of the physical limitations of being tall.

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