How to become a Jockey

Jockeys ride racehorses at race meetings, in trials and for exercise.

Personal requirements of a Jockey

  • Enjoy working with horses
  • Light build
  • Athletic, with a good sense of balance
  • Steady nerves
  • Competitive
  • Age and weight limits apply

Education & Training for a Jockey

To become a jockey you usually have to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship in Racing (Jockey). Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Jockey

Jockeys may perform the following tasks:

  • receive instructions from trainers and owners before races
  • ride horses during exercises, race trials and races
  • judge the abilities of each horse and the best tactics to use to win each race
  • discuss performance of horses with trainers after races or exercise gallops
  • report anything that may have affected the horse’s performance in a race to stewards and other racing authorities
  • answer stewards’ enquiries regarding the performance of their horse
  • study videotapes of races to improve their own performance and to determine the best way to ride certain horses, after discussion with the trainer
  • maintain their own riding equipment, including saddles and boots.

Working conditions for a Jockey

A jockey's time is usually split between early morning trackwork and riding at race meetings. Apprentice jockeys often live at the stables and may initially be required to perform the same work as stablehands. Jockeys must pay careful attention to diet and exercise, as they have to keep their weight down.

Employment Opportunities for a Jockey

Apprentice jockeys work for racehorse trainers. At the completion of the contract of training, jockeys become self-employed and work with racehorse trainers and owners to obtain rides in races. The number of people who make a living as a jockey is small, and only a few will be successful. Jockeys who do succeed can become national figures and receive high incomes from riding fees, as well as percentages of prize money. Those who find that they do not have the qualities needed to be a successful jockey may continue in the industry as stablehands, trackwork riders, farriers, float drivers and track officials. Some become licensed horse trainers.

Additional Information
To work as a jockey, you must be licensed. This licence can be obtained from the racing authority in your state or territory. Applicants must undergo assessments, and there is a minimum age requirement in most cases.
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