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ilyTango 06-09-2010 05:59 PM

Working Racehorses?
I just have to ask: what's it like galloping racehorses on the track? I don't mean in a race, just workouts or whatever. It's always appealed to me, but I'm pretty sure it's not a realistic idea for me to pursue. For those of you that have done it before, tell me all: what does the "job" entail, do you act as a groomer to the horses as well as ride them, how much money do you make (I've heard $15 a mount, is that right?), how fit and strong do you have to be...everything. Even if it's not something I can do, I'd like to hear about it.

ilyTango 06-09-2010 07:02 PM

Not to mention: how dangerous is it compared to other horse sports?

justsambam08 06-09-2010 07:41 PM

While I have never personally galloped/excercised race horse, I do know people who have. You DO have to be a certified jockey, you can't just walk in and hop on...these guys (and girls sometimes) are very experienced. Depending on the size of the track, you generally do not groom the horses you ride, although sometimes the grooms may also do other things, I forget what other jobs there are, but its a pretty low level thing. Anyway, since you're an exersize rider, your job is to also build up the horses strength and endurance, so you can be as light as 100 pounds or as heavy as 160...the logic being that if a horse can carry a 160 lb person fast and make good time, it should do even better when a 115 lb person is riding.

Generally, galloping a horse for workouts is not the same as racing gallops. You would be riding much more controlled gallops, much slower, and sometimes you may not even get to that speed, it all depends on the horse and the trainer you work for. Fast cantering would be done, generally, and of course warm up w/t and a cool down lap before the horse is taken to the hot walker.

ilyTango 06-09-2010 09:35 PM

Thanks! I never knew you had to have your jockey license to do seems I don't know very much at all about it. Lol.

StormyBlues 06-10-2010 11:02 AM

Well, you need to be FIT. I'm planning on trying to get a job at the track once I turn 16 because alot of big name event riders say you should exercise race horses because it teaches you how to properly gallop a horse. I'd say you need to be in the best condition you can be in and I'd say you're most likly goign to be hired if your around 130-140 pounds because horses usally carry 120 lbs in a race. The grooms in the barns do all the grooming tacking, untacking, and cooling out. You get off one horse and get right back on another. Getting jobs will be your biggest issue probably, unless you have connections. We own racehorses so I know people around the track, so hopefully I'll be able to get some jobs if I get my weight down this summer ;)

maura 06-10-2010 11:22 AM


You DO have to be a certified jockey, you can't just walk in and hop on...these guys (and girls sometimes) are very experienced

Not true, at least not in my experience. I worked as an exercise rider on a farm, and we worked at racing speed up to 5/8s. We would also occassionaly haul horses to the local track and gallop/work at the track. No license was required. We did have to be working for a licensed trainer, however. You can't haul your pleasure horse to the track and take a spin, that's true. Perhaps that's different is different states, but I've never heard of exercise riders needing to be licensed. To actually ride in a race, yes. A trainer would have to put you up for your apprentice's license, and you have to gallop and break from the gate in front of the stewards to be awarded an apprentice's license.

Starting out riding by riding at the track would be *very* tough. The horses are all fit; and you have to deal with all the traffic on the track in the mornings. Much easier to start on the farm breaking, and get fit as the horses get fit, before attempting to ride at the track. The only way to break into riding cold, at the track, is to start out grooming and hot walking and progress to riding the pony horse during morning work. Would still be very tough. The pony just doesn't prepare you for the racehorses. You have to be incredibly fit to hold a fit racehorse; holding a fit racehorse with a lot of other traffic on the track is incredibley tough.

To answer your other questions: it was incredibly fun. Working at racing speed ("working" as opposed to "galloping") is a huge rush; working from the gate is an even bigger rush.

Back in the late 80s I got $5 - $6 dollars a head, late 90s I got $7 a head, up to $10 for really tough horses the other riders wouldn't get on. I didn't do any grooming; just tacked up the horse, galloped, hosed it off and put in on the hot walker, and cleaned my tack at the end of the day. You can ride 4 an hour if you're hustling. If you're working with a good groom who does the tacking and cooling down, and they bring a tacked horse out to you and you can hop from one to the other, you can do 6 an hour. No idea what the going rate is now.

ilyTango 06-10-2010 04:48 PM

Wow. It sounds hard. Even so I imagine it would be really fun. Right now, I KNOW I'm nowhere near fit enough. My dad's friend/the woman we bought my horse from used to train racehorses before she got hurt really bad, so I guess if I ever got serious about it I could ask her...this has given me a lot to ponder.

Carleen 06-10-2010 05:51 PM

I'm sure it's entirely different depending on where you are and the type of racing but just wanted to say - my dad used to exercise Standardbreds at the track near our house, and he definitely doesn't have a license! Obviously, that's not exactly what you're interested in, but according to him doing it was fun!

I agree with maura - try finding a farm to work at. I don't know where you are but recently I've been seeing a LOT of them hiring exercise riders here in BC.

sarahver 06-10-2010 06:55 PM

If you ride at the track in Texas, you must be certified, wear a back protecter and approved helmet. If you ride at a track on the trainers personal property you do not need certification. At the track, you do no grooming/preparation - someone brings you the horse and you ride it to the trainers instructions so you must know how to time your furlongs correctly. You can make $15-$25 per horse depending on the difficulty of the ride.

As long as you are fit, strong and have enough experience to ride racehorses it is a lot of fun.

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