Horse racing jockeys are professional athletes who ride racehorses in races of a quarter-mile and longer. They must be strong and fearless to control horses at high speeds. Jockeys are self-employed and specialize in one type of racing. They consult with trainers and develop racing strategies. They are paid a mount fee and a percentage of the purse for winning. Jockeys must be licensed and maintain a low weight.
A horse racing jockey is a professional athlete who rides racehorses in races of a quarter-mile and longer. Racing jockeys must be extremely strong and fearless to control horses many times their size as they move at speeds of up to 40 miles (64 km) per hour. Horse racing jockeys are typically self-employed and are hired by horse trainers and owners to participate in races. Very successful jockeys could ride up to 10 horses in one day. The jockeys are often represented by agents who negotiate the best mounts for them.
Horse racing jockeys normally specialize in one type of racing, such as thoroughbred racing, horse racing, or steeplechase. In thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, jockeys ride on oval rings of various lengths. The steeplechase jockey must know how to jump as well as ride on level ground; the sport includes various fences and ditches that the horse and rider travel across at high speed.
Before the races, the equestrian jockey consults with the trainers of the horses he will ride to learn about their behavior and temperament. Jockeys also work with instructors to develop strategies for successful racing. As part of developing their racing strategies, jockeys often familiarize themselves with the characteristics and records of the horses and jockeys they are racing against.
Jockeys are paid a mount fee, which is a fee for each horse they ride. They typically also receive a percentage of the purse for winning (first), placing (second) or showing (third). The percentage of winnings jockeys receive is higher for a win than for a show.
Horse racing jockeys typically must be licensed to ride in the sport. In the United States, for example, licenses are controlled by individual states. In general, requirements to become licensed include having experience, being in good physical condition, and being a minimum of 16 years of age, although the minimum age is higher in some states. Jockeys learn the sport through on-the-job training and by attending jockey schools. They often start out as apprentices before becoming full-fledged jockeys.
Being a jockey is not an easy career. Besides the obvious danger, one of the hardest aspects of being a jockey is maintaining a low weight. Weights for jockeys vary by type of racing and tracks, but many jockeys are expected to weigh less than 120 pounds (54 kg). If they exceed the maximum weight, they will not be hired to drive.