What Is the Average Height and Weight for Jockeys?

Horse Racing 1577292 1280 Credit: Annca/Pixabay

While there is no height requirements for a horse jockey, a jockey must maintain certain weight requirements, adhering to a strict diet and exercise regimen. The average weight of a jockey in America is 109 to 116 pounds, and the average height is between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 6 inches. Read on to learn more about horse jockeys and their requirements, and what is needed to become a jockey as a career.

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

Many horses can carry between 118 and 122 pounds before it becomes too taxing for them to have a rider. Also, each racetrack or club has their own rules for weight requirements for jockeys. However, that 118 to 122 pounds also factors in the weight of equipment, which is why jockeys must adhere to certain weight guidelines.

Do Jockeys Weigh in Daily?

Most racetracks or clubs require that a jockey must weigh in before the start of each race. Weight can often fluctuate between 4 pounds (it can be 2 pounds less or 2 pounds more on any given day), so if a jockey is over the weight limit for that race by a small margin, he or she is not disqualified in most cases. However, jockeys must stay within the required weight range in order to keep their contract, so if they are over the weight limit, they must correct it immediately.

Why Does Jockey Weight Matter?

The main reason jockey weight matters is for the health of the horse. Carrying too much weight, time and time again, can cause a racehorse to be unhealthy and unable to perform. Weight also matters because having a lighter weight gives the jockey the ability to exercise more control over the horse. There is no height requirement because height doesn’t interfere with control or the health of the horse; however, because height is often proportionate to weight, it’s rare to see a jockey that is much taller than 5 feet 7 or 8, however there have been jockeys over 6 feet tall.

How Does a Jockey Train?

A jockey is an athlete, just like a participant in other types of sport. Because of this, jockeys must train rigorously to stay in shape and keep their target weight. While a jockey’s upper body must be strong, the other parts of the body should be fit as well. Therefore, they take part in full-body workouts several times a week, while also avoiding alcohol and anything else detrimental to their wellbeing. 

What Are Other Jockey Requirements?

Most horse jockeys are freelancers, which means they must motivate themselves to keep in shape and to stay under the weight requirements. They must also “sell,” or market themselves effectively, to clubs or owners looking to hire jockeys. In many cases, they must pass a fitness test and written tests. Many jockeys in the U.S. attend The North American Racing Academy, which offers jockeys a two-year program. In order to apply, aspiring jockeys must have a high school diploma or GED. Each state also offers a jockey apprenticeship, usually beginning at the age of 16.

What Are Famous Horse Races?

The most well-known horse race in the United States is the Kentucky Derby. Other popular horse races in the U.S. include the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup. Other lesser-known, but still popular, horse races include the Travers Stakes, Arlington Million, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Handicap, and Haskell Invitational Stakes.