10 Facts About Horse Jockey You Never Knew

Facts About Horse Jockey

There is never a boring moment when it comes to watching horse racing. There is this thrill we get from watching our favorite jockey ride. We always look forward to watching every race because of the thrill.

Despite horse racing being loved by many, there are some facts about jockeys that most fans do not know. 1

Here is a list of 10 facts you don’t know about horse Jockey:

Facts About Horse Jockey

10. The Job Has A Very High Risk, As They Risk Life-Threatening Injuries

horse fall
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Horse racing is a very dangerous sport, and that is why you hardly find jockeys living above 40 years old. Deaths and life-changing injuries occasionally occur in the game.

Since the 1950s, more than 100 jockeys have died due to race-related injuries in North America alone. Hence, jockeys must wear a helmet to protect their heads.

In countries where horse racing is popular, a lot has been done to reduce casualties in the sport, but the risk to horses and humans cannot be completely removed, just like in every other sport.

A jockey uses a thin body protector to protect their spine, which has continued to be a part of their equipment in recent years.

Although it is risky, it is not usually categorised as one of the hardest sports in the world.

9. A Jockey’s Weight For Flat And Jump Races Are Different

Flat-horse jockeys weigh less than their counterparts in the jump race.

The weighting structure for a flat race can go as low as 112 lbs (51 kg). On a flat race, no horse should carry more than 140 pounds (63.5 kg).

Top weights are scarcely above 167.6lbs (76Kg), but in hunter chases, the amateur horse jockey can go up to 71lbs (79Kg).

In a hunt, jockey size helps because their weight is not as extreme as that of a flat jockey. Hence, they end up having a long career as long as they play safe and stay free from injuries.

8. Women Make Up Only 14 Percent Of Working Jockey

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In most parts of the world where this sport is practiced, by the 19th century, women were not allowed to ride as professional jockeys.

Although women were banned from participating in this sport in the 19th century, records show that women still participated in it.

In Australia, in the mid-1900s, Wilhemina Smith disguised herself as a man and rode under the name Bill Smith at the north Queensland racecourse. She continued to ride as Bill Smith, and it was only at the time of her death in 1975 that it was known that Bill Smith was Wilhemina Smith.

When women were denied equality, Wilhemina Smith became known as a successful jockey under Bill Smith’s name in Queensland.

These restrictions against women were not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world.

It was only in the 1960s that restrictions against female jockey were lifted in Australia.

Today women account for only 17 percent of Jockey in Victoria because men jockey are usually favored over them.

7. The Color Worn By Jockey Are Registered Colors By The Horse Owners Or Trainers Who Employs Them

The practice of jockey wearing colors comes from the Middle Ages when knights would compete against each other on horseback with lances.

This practice must have started in the Middle Age Italian city where riders used colors of various patterns. Such traditions are still practised today on the town streets and are known for their unrestrained energy riding and the display of color they offer.

6. A Jockey Use Of Whip Has Strict Rules And Limits

Horse racing authorities have always had concern for the welfare of horses with regards to the horse jockey using their whips.

There are clear rules and regulations concerning using the whip and severe punishment to any jockey who breaks any of them.

In a flat race, a jockey must not use their whip more than seven times. If they do, they will be fined or suspended for using their whip too many times.

In a jump race, the maximum use of the whip is eight times. Also, a whip must only be used on a horse’s hindquarters.

5. Jockey Gets Less Than 10 Percent Of The Prize From Winning A Race

Tony Dobbin
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A jockey is not well compensated for risking their life or parts of their body in a race.

A horse Jockey receives between 8 and 9 percent of the price from winning a jump race, which is far riskier than that of a flat. In a flat race, a jockey receives less than 7 percent of the prize money.

You begin to wonder if it is not better to be a horse owner and get a higher percentage of the prize money than to be a jockey who risks his life on the job but gets less than 10 percent of the reward for winning the race.

When a jockey gets injured in a race, they will use their share to take care of themselves, making their share a lot smaller.

4. Jockey Are Not Allowed To Bet On A Race

Betting is a usual practice in every sport. Whether in football, hockey, or basketball, you find people betting on the team or people they think are best.

In jockeying, it is common to see horse owners betting on the horses they think will win the race because they come to know the horse over time. Fans are also not left out, as they place bets on horses they believe will win. But as a jockey, there are strict rules against betting in these games, even if you are sure of winning the game.

3. Jockey are normally self-employed

Horse trainers choose jockeys to ride their horses for a prize paid even if the horse wins the race or not, which does not include their percentage if the race is won.

In Australia, an apprentice jockey is employed by a pro on a contract, with the relationship no different from that of an employee-employer.

When these apprentices finish learning what is needed, the nature of their job changes, and they can become contractors themselves.

2. A Jockey Must Be Light With Weight Around 100lb – 120lb

Source: Wikimedia Commons

For a jockey to ride, they must have the weights assigned to their horse. Racing authorities set limits for a horse to carry. An example of this was the Kentucky Derby, where the weight limit was 126lb (57 kg), including the jockey’s equipment.

Even though jockeys must be light, they must control their horses, which are moving at a very high speed and have weights usually around 1,190lb.

The weight range for a typical jockey is 108lb (49 kg) to 118lb (54 kg).

A jockey does not have a height limit, but they are usually short. They stand around 147cm to 170cm tall.

1. The Origin Of The Word Jockey Is From England

Horseracing Churchill Downs
Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is a fact that horse racing has been a common practice in the old world. In ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, archaeologists have found evidence that horse racing was practised in these places. It is even found in the myths and legends of these people.

In Britain, horse racing became a well-established sport by the 18th century, and its popularity increased drastically. By the mid-18th century, the Jockey Club was formed to regulate the Newmarket, founded in 1667.

Jockey is gotten from the word Jock, which in Northern England or Scotland is an equivalent for John, meaning boy or fellow since jockeys are mainly men even though there are well-known female jockeys.

References & Notes

Facts Sources:
  1. Horse Jockey. ESPN

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