A better and somewhat safer route to becoming a jockey is to work on the farm first. By that I mean a farm where the break long yearlings and prep horses for the track. The horses aren't as fit, and there's usually just one set out on the track at a time, so there's less to cope with. Also, if you're a solid rider in another discipline, a farm is much more willing to give you a chance than a trainer at the track.
There's two different approachs. One is to be hired full time to rub and ride. That means your assigned 4 - 5 horses and you're responsible for their total care, including grooming, mucking, breaking and exercise. If your riding skill isn't as well developed, this may be your only option.
The other is to just ride, and get paid by the head. No mucking, no feeding, no farm work. This is the route I went, however, I had a lot of experience breaking horses, and had foxhunted and evented, so I didn't have a problem with speed. And I had to demonstrate my riding on several horses before I was offered this option. So I rode 10 - 14 per day, cleaned my tack and went home. It was great!
If you're doing very well on the farm, you may get a chance to ride at the track when your farm sends horses to the track to train or even for a one day workout. It's a way to gain some experinence and have some trainers see you ride.
If you're really serious about his, I'd try working on a farm for 6 months - 1 year; then try moving to the track and working as an exercise rider. Give yourself 6 months at the track before applying for a jockey's license. Once you have your license, get an agent. Be prepared to still ride work every single morning to pay the bills while you beg rides.
That must have been a highly unusual track, that certainly has not been my experience. I woiuld estimate less than 20% of jockeys working at the track maintain their weight through diet alone. The rest use laxatives, the hot box and purging.
Probably the most accurate post here.
I worked at the track and knew a few TB stables and owners. It is not for the faint of heart and most people that try for jockey status never make it. It is early rising so you can "sell yourself" to get rides unless you have a really good agent. You will get the bottom rung horses to exercise IF you can convince the owners/trainers to even let you on the horse. Hotwalking is where a few start off as, or mucking out and in your free time you will try to push everyone else that is trying to get a ride ( exercising) from an owner.
Maybe if you hit the right combination of sympathetic owner and horse you work well with you could be taken under an owner's wing and fostered to the point of getting a chance to actually ride in a low level claiming race to begin with.
I hope you have a lot of fortitude.