Whether it’s the Royal Ascot 2021 or the Cheltenham, it will always come down to the jockey-horse partnership at the racecourse. Even if you have an excellent beast, the perfect racing surface, and a good track record, you still need an excellent jockey as horses can’t race themselves to victory.
The synergy between man and beast can not be downplayed when it comes to horse racing. Perhaps, you are wondering what it takes to be a jockey? If so, you are in luck. Here are six important requirements to be a jockey.
Because horses have to carry their jockeys on their backs all the way to the finish line, jockeys cannot afford to be overweight. Horses don’t just carry jockeys; they also carry additional kits, which poses extra weight.
Therefore, a light-weighted jockey will be a lesser burden on a horse. What’s more, being lighter makes it easier to have better control. For many jockeys, this means sacrifice and many months of engaging in tough exercises and strict diets to keep in shape.
Sometimes, the weight of a jockey isn’t a fixed figure. It is determined by the weight a horse has to carry in a particular race, which is 118 to 123 pounds (including kits). This scenario means that a jockey’s weight can fluctuate so that the requirement of a race can be met.
It will interest you to know that a race’s requirements may not be known until a couple of days before the race. This makes it even more challenging and sacrificial to remain under the weight requirement. Most jockeys weigh around 108 and 115 pounds.
As if being under a certain weight isn’t enough, jockeys must also be physically fit. Controlling a fast-moving horse requires being able to multitask. Sometimes, horses may be whipped, tapped with the legs, and even spoken to. All of these are carried out while jockeys try to maintain stability and not fall off the horse.
Research shows that riders need to be able to isolate their bodies from the horse’s powerful movement. Most riders conform to a slouched posture when riding horses in order to maintain stability. Assuming this posture while racing requires both upper and lower body strength.
3. Jockey’s height
While there are no specific requirements about the height of a jockey, they are usually on the average or small side. That’s because relatively taller riders often have larger bone mass, which constitutes extra weight. The average weight of riders is usually around 4ft10in and 5ft6in.
Most Jockeys join horse racing sports very early, from age 16. This gives them plenty of time to develop their skills and become ready at full adult age. There are no maximum age limits to become a jockey; however, most people retire at 40-50 as the role is physically demanding.
Jockeys are primarily male, perhaps, due to the physically demanding nature of the job. Riders are prone to injuries that could be permanent or temporary. However, there are female jockeys but are few.
6. Educational requirements
Since many people join the jockey school as early as sixteen, there are no educational requirements in the United States. Still, most people have their GED or about to complete their high school diploma. Basically, you don’t need a minimum formal educational requirement to become a jockey.