Last Updated on December 2, 2021
It is safe to say that jockeys are one of the smallest sportsmen of the horse-riding world! When you see them riding a powerful horse, it can be hard to understand how these lightweight riders can possibly be in control. But how much do jockeys weigh?
If you are a horse racing fan, you will realize how important the weight of a jockey is! Maintaining the right weight is a difficult task for a professional jockey. Let’s take a look at how much jockeys weigh and find out more about these horse racing riders.
What Is A Horse Jockey?
A professional rider who competes in horse races is called a jockey. Jockeys are normally self-employed riders, who are paid a fee by horse trainers to ride their horses in a race. If the horse is placed in the race the jockey will also get a proportion of the winnings.
A top-class jockey will earn more money, as they will be selected to ride the very best horses. A winning jockey will also be asked to ride more frequently, giving them the edge over less experienced jockeys.
However, whether a jockey is successful is not all about the skill of the rider. The weight of the jockey is also very important, and trainers will take this into account when selecting a jockey. But why does how much jockeys weigh make such a difference?
Why Does A Jockeys Weight Matter?
The world of horse racing is very competitive. This means that certain systems must be in place to ensure that the race is fair and that the horses are as closely matched as possible. One way that this is done is by allocating a certain about of weight that must be carried by each horse.
The way this weight is decided is done by racing authorities in one of two ways.
The first method is a handicap system, designed to create the perfect conditions for an evenly matched race. The past racing records of a horse are analyzed, and weight is allocated depending on the result. This means that a young, inexperienced horse that has never won a race will carry a lower weight than a successful racehorse.
The other method for allocating weight is slightly simpler, as the same weight is given to all the similar horses in a race. For example, all of the colts in a race who have never been placed will carry the same amount of weight.
Both of these systems are designed to create an evenly matched race with an exciting finish. If a horse romps home with a lead of many lengths, it will be given a much higher weight next time they race!
How Are Jockeys Weighed?
The weight allocated to a horse includes the jockey, plus the horse’s tack. These are weighed together and if the weight is too low then lead weights are added to the saddle.
Racehorse trainers prefer their horses to carry the live weight of a jockey rather than weights. This means that they will want the rider to be as close to the optimum weight as possible. Therefore, how much a jockey weigh is very important to the trainer.
However, if the jockey is over the weight allowance, nothing can be done to reduce this! The horse must carry the extra weight during the race. This can put it at a disadvantage to its competitors.
Does The Jockey Height Matter? Average Height Of A Jockey
It is no secret that jockeys are not very tall! However, unlike weight, the height of a jockey is not taken into account when allocating handicaps for a race.
The reason that jockeys are not tall is because of the low body weight they must maintain. A taller jockey would need to get to dangerously low body weight to be under the weight limit set for most racehorses. At this low weight, a tall jockey would not have the physical strength or fitness to ride proficiently during a race.
Riding a racehorse is a physically demanding sport that requires incredible levels of endurance and stamina. The average Thoroughbred racehorse weighs over 1000 pounds and can run at speeds of over 40 miles per hour. The jockey needs to be very strong and resilient to control a horse at these speeds!
A jockey who is small in height will have a bodyweight that is lower than a taller jockey. This means that he can retain more weight in proportion to his body, increasing his physical strength. A taller jockey is at risk of being too thin and weak to control a fit racehorse during a high-pressure race.
This is a great example to show how the height of a jockey matter. The average weight for a 5’8 man will have an average weight of 156 pounds, whereas a shorter 5’2 man will be around 137 pounds. If a horse is allocated a handicap weight of 122 pounds, the taller jockey will need to lose a lot more weight than the shorter one.
The height range of jockeys is normally between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 6 inches. The average height of male American jockeys is 5’2, which is nearly 8 inches shorter than the national average.
What Is The Average Jockey Weight?
The average weight of a jockey in the U.S is 109 to 116 pounds. Horses are normally allocated a handicap weight of between 113 and 118 pounds, including the tack. So, once you add the saddle onto the weight of the jockey, there is normally very little additional weight that needs to be added to the horse.
So, how much smaller is a jockey than the average person? The weight of an average American male is 197 pounds, nearly twice as much as a jockey!
Race jockeys are incredibly fit athletes and have to train incredibly hard to keep their weight low and maintain their physical strength. They normally eat a diet that is very high in protein and low in fat. Jockeys also often use steam rooms to lose vital pounds just before an important race.
So, as we have learned, a jockey needs to maintain very low body weight to give their horse the best possible advantage in the race. Most jockeys weigh between 109 and 116 pounds, making them one of the smallest horse riding sportsmen in the world. There is no limit to the height of a jockey, but smaller jockeys will find it easier to maintain a lower weight.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about how much jockeys weigh. Can you imagine trying to maintain such a low body weight? Or maybe you have some questions about how handicapping works in horse racing? Please add a comment below!
Read about Draft Horse Height.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE