Jockeys are highly trained people who earn their living by riding horses at public race meetings. They are usually paid a set fee for each race as well as a percentage of any stake money that is won.
They ride racehorses during exercise, at race meetings and in barrier trials, on behalf of horse trainers and owners. They may receive instructions from trainers and owners before races, and discuss with them the abilities of each horse and the best tactics to use to win a race.
Jockeys discuss the performances of horses with trainers after races or exercise gallops. Jockeys often study videotapes of races to improve their own performance and to work out the best way to ride certain horses, after discussion with the trainer.
They need to report anything that may have affected the horse’s performance in a race to stewards and other racing authorities and, if necessary, attend stewards’ inquiries regarding the performance of their horses.
To ride in races, jockeys have to be licensed by the Jockey Club of Southern Africa. This means, in effect, that they have to enter into a contract with the Jockey Club of Southern Africa. If they contravene the rules, and the contravention is of a serious nature, jockeys may be penalised by having fines imposed or by being suspended for a number of weeks or even months, which means that they do not earn an income during this period.
Their time is usually split between early morning track work and riding at race meetings. Learner jockeys often live at the stables and may be initially required to perform the same work as stable hands. Most jockeys have to pay careful attention to diet and exercise, as they have to maintain strict control of their weight to ensure that they remain light enough to ride in races.
Since horse racing as a sport generally attracts a great deal of money, skilled jockeys have very high earning potential. The lifestyle is vigorous and mostly outdoors. Jockeys usually assist with horse training and sometimes help with stable duties. They are expected to maintain their own riding equipment, including saddles and boots.