What Is Required Physically To Be A Jockey?

Being a professional jockey is extremely demanding. Not only must a jockey be physically fit, but intense levels of training must also be achieved. Add to this that jockeys must also conform to a strict set of physical standards and it is not surprise that most aren’t considered.

But what exactly are the requirements? Who is able to be a jockey, and who wouldn’t even make the physical exam? Let’s take a closer look and see what it takes to be a professional jockey.

Physical Requirements

To put it bluntly, unless you are small, slim and fit you aren’t going to qualify. Small riders are treasured in the world of horse racing, given that any weight the rider carries the horse also has to carry. Needless to say, adding weight to a race horse isn’t especially desirable.

The South African Jockey’s Academy, established in 1958, is very clear about what it expects from jockeys. Candidates generally start training at the age of 15, with the expected weight of a hopefuls being no more than 34kgs for boys, and 40kgs for girls. As candidates age their weight allowance is also adjusted, with the maximum weight accepted for 17 year olds being 42kgs for boys, and 44kgs for girls. It’s an extremely demanding ask, making it clear just why so few ever make the final cut.

Though, if a hopeful doesn’t meet the requirements it doesn’t mean they simply have to lose all hope, give up, and go check out a Canadian online casino instead. Qualified stable hands and trainers are also sought after, allowing for many career opportunities outside of actual racing.

Intense Training Requirements

If the physical requirements aren’t demanding enough, the academic training is just as rigorous. Anyone wanting to ride horses for a living must also understand how to care for horses, with training including how to dress a horse, how to clean a horse, and how to clean a stable.

The South African Jockey’s Academy reports that those in training are required to be up at 4:00AM. By 4:45AM the candidate’s horse must be clean, dressed, and ready for riding. Following this each stable must be cleaned and the horse’s bedding changed. Candidates then head to physical training, where their bodies are carefully exercised for horse riding needs.

This morning routine is followed by students then attending academic studies.

Getting A License

All of the above is just the training part of the process. If passing a candidate will then enter into a 5 year apprenticeship. It is only after this additional 5 years that a license may finally be obtained. However, once getting a license a jockey is free to ride professionally anywhere in the world.

If being a professional jockey is or isn’t worth the years of training is, of course, up to the individual. But there is no question that only the truly dedicated will ever make the grade. That is assuming that the also pass the physical requirements. It’s no wonder that good jockeys are so in demand.

About Doreen Cohen