Why Are Jockeys So Short? Horse Jockey Facts And Stats Explained!

Last Updated on August 17, 2022

If you’ve ever been for a day out at the races, you might find yourself wondering why are jockeys so short? Is there a particular height you need to be in order to ride a racehorse, or is there another reason why are jockeys so short? Let’s find out!

Why Are Jockeys So Short?

Horse racing is a highly competitive sport, with big money prizes at stake as well as the enormous financial turnover of the gambling industry. In this sport, both the horse and rider are the stars of the show, with some jockeys reaching celebrity status. But why are jockeys so short, and does this help them to win races?

To delve into this concept fully, we first need to understand how the world of horse racing works. Horses are pitted against each other in races which are designed to provide an exciting and competitive finish – there would be no fun watching a race where there was one horse that outclassed the rest!

This is achieved by putting horses of a similar ability, age, gender, and experience in the same race. There are many ways in which the racing authorities classify which races a horse can compete in, but the aim is always to group horses of a similar speed together.

Once these horses are entered into a race, the handicapper will then decide what is the minimum weight each horse should carry. Again, this is designed to create a highly competitive race. A horse that has won several races may be required to carry more weight than one that has never raced before.

The weight carried by the horse consists of the jockey and the saddle. If this combined weight is less than the minimum weight the horse should carry, weights are added to make up the difference. However, if the combined weight is more than the handicap, nothing is done about this and the horse must compete whilst carrying more weight than necessary!

This obviously puts the horse at a disadvantage, as it is carrying more weight than the handicapper determined it needed to. In order to prevent this from happening, racehorse trainers will tend to select jockeys that have a bodyweight as close as possible to the handicap weight.

These weights are often very low, getting the best possible chance of meeting the handicap weight is far easier for smaller jockeys. Jockeys do not only need to be light in weight but also should be physically fit and strong. A taller jockey would need to be exceptionally thin to meet the handicap weight, and is less likely to be physically strong enough to ride the horse to victory.

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Why Are Jockeys So Short?

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How Do Jockeys Train For A Race?

Jockeys train for a race by training with the horse and alone. Some racehorses are ridden by jockeys routinely as part of their training, while others are trained by grooms and stable hands. When a jockey trains a horse, he will be preparing the horse for a race as well as working on his own physical fitness.

Riding horses is not enough to reach the required level of fitness for a top-level jockey, and some alternative forms of training are also required. Jockeys will need to carry out training to improve their stamina and endurance, as well as their physical strength.

All of this training must be done without gaining too much heavy muscle mass. A top-level jockey will have a lean and wiry physique, strong enough to control an excitable racehorse without carrying too much extra weight.

As well as training hard, jockeys need to follow a strict diet to maintain their weight and fitness levels. Many jockeys also take extra steps the day before a race to lose weight, such as spending time in a sauna.

So although jockeys may be short, it is clear that these talented and brave riders are truly elite athletes! They must follow a rigorous training schedule and monitor their weight constantly, and be capable of controlling a 1000lb horse running at speeds of 40 miles per hour or more. Impressive stuff!

How Do Jockeys Train For A Race

Summary – Why Are Jockeys So Short?

So, as we have learned, the answer to the question of why are jockeys so short is that this gives them a big advantage when competing in races. A jockey that is short in height can also maintain lower body weight, without being so thin that they cannot physically control the horse. Riding a racehorse requires strength and stamina, and short jockey can provide this whilst also being the lowest possible permitted weight for the horse.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on why are jockeys so short! Have you always dreamed of becoming a jockey but are worried that you might be too tall? Or perhaps you’ve got some questions about the best way to become a jockey? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


Do jockeys stunt their growth?

Jockeys do not stunt their growth, they are just naturally a shorter height than average. There is nothing a person can do to alter their height, as this is predetermined by their genetic makeup.

Why do you have to be short to be a jockey?

Jockeys tend to be shorter than average as this gives them a big advantage in terms of weight. A horse rider that is short in stature can achieve a lower body weight than a tall jockey, meaning the horse does not need to carry as much weight.

What is the weight limit for a jockey?

There is no set weight limit for a jockey; in fact, there is nothing to prevent a heavyweight jockey from competing in a race! However, trainers prefer jockeys with a bodyweight as close as possible to the allocated weight that the horse should carry for that race.

Do jockeys have eating disorders?

Jockeys have to follow a strict diet and exercise regime in order to be physically strong enough to compete in a race, without putting on excess bodyweight. Riding a racehorse is very physically demanding, and jockeys need to consume a surprising amount of calories to maintain their fitness.