Horse racing is an exciting sport that is full of thrills. Even though horses are in focus most of the
time, jockeys also play an essential role. Jockeys are there to control the horse and squeeze out
every bit of performance they can from these majestic beasts.
However, the jockey’s form and fitness are vital, and they have a considerable effect on how they
perform. In fact, this is a crucial factor for expert bettors when they make their bets.
It is safe to say that jockeys are one of the most overlooked factors in a race that can heavily impact
If we look at some of the top jockeys in the latest Kentucky Derby news, we can notice a trend where
most are short and slender. However, they must have strong muscles to control this colossal animal going 40 miles per hour.
In other words, physical health is a crucial factor for becoming a professional jockey. It also helps
injury prevention and decision-making. On top of that, jockeys have weight requirements that they
need to reach to compete professionally.
Most people see jockey’s maneuvering a horse for 1-2 minutes on a racecourse, but they don’t know
that jockeys can have more than ten races in a single day. This is exhausting and requires maintaining
a great physical shape.
So, how do horse jockeys keep fit?
Muscle Strength and Exercise
Professional jockeys have a strict exercise program to keep their muscles strong enough to
control horses. Apart from their cardio workouts like running, cycling, and riding, which are very
frequent, they also have muscle strength exercises with weights.
There is a reason why horse jockeys are small. Even though they exercise at least three times per
week with weights for muscle strength, they must keep balancing their weight. Gaining too much
mass is not acceptable for jockeys since this can affect the horse’s performance.
Instead, they maintain muscle strength without pumping too much iron for gaining muscle mass.
Some of the more preferred exercises for jockeys are:
- Barbell Squat
- Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
- Romanian Deadlift
- Lateral Pulldown with Wide Grip
Diet and Avoiding Alcohol
Most people think that living as a jockey is like a walk in the park. However, jockeys must make a few
sacrifices to be successful. One of which is the absence of alcohol.
Back in the day, some of the jockeys were drinking beer before a race, but since the competition is
more challenging now, it is a minimal margin for mistakes in order to become a great jockey.
Additionally, jockeys need to keep fit and maintain a steady weight to avoid ruining the
horse’s performance. This cannot be accomplished without a strict diet that avoids sugar, junk
food, and other unhealthy foods or ingredients.
Besides keeping great physical shape, jockeys need to focus on their balance. This is another
highly overlooked aspect of horse riding and can massively improve horses’ performance during a
The most important thing when it comes to balance is muscle strength. However, jockeys need to
focus on all muscle parts of the body and go through different workouts from what most people are
Horses run very fast during a race, and keeping a solid balance is an essential thing that can
improve the result and make the sport safer for jockeys.
Besides exercising, jockeys also perform many yoga exercises, meditation, and balance exercises.
Although most horse races last under a minute, jockeys are going to a lot of beating during that time
which requires endurance.
To improve jockeys; endurance and form to maintain the same performance during a race,
they have specific exercises like long-distance running and long horse running sessions.