Jockeys are highly trained professionals who are contracted by licensed trainers to ride their horses at public race meetings.
What am I going to do in this occupation?
Jockeys earn their living by competing in races and therefore the more races they win, the greater their income. Jockeys are paid a set fee for riding a horse in a race and also a fixed percentage of any stake money for winning or being placed.
Jockeys must exercise horses on non-race days too. This means an early morning start, beginning at sunrise. The rest of the day consists of stable duties and being of assistance to their particular trainer or stable.
Behind the glamour of the “Sport of Kings”, is a great deal of planning and hard work. Horses have to be bred and trained, stable workers have to be trained on an ongoing basis and the young men and women that ride the horses to victory have to be carefully selected and trained as apprentice jockeys. Once applicants are accepted, after a series of interviews, they enter the South African Jockeys’ Academy to begin a five-year apprenticeship.
What kind of personality do I need? Jockeys have to be very disciplined in order to keep their weight constant. They also have to obtain their own race rides, so they need to be able to relate very well to all sorts of people. They need to be able to talk intelligently and politely with owners, trainers and stable workers. Jockeys have to be honest and have a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. Finally jockeys must be brave and be able to get back on a horse after every fall.
Where can I work?
After completing the apprenticeship, a jockey is a ‘free agent’. The thrill of big-time racing and an open-air life, the chance to become a name in the world of sport, and a very rewarding future are the things that this career offers the jockey.
Can I work for myself in this occupation?
Jockeys usually work for the owners of racehorses. If they have the necessary money, they can start their own stables or act as trainers for jockeys.