Category Archives: Horseriding

The Professional Jockeys Association in the UK

It is possible to make a living riding horses.  And for those who like to go fast and travel, work as a jockey may be appealing.  Riding as a professional jockey offers the chance to ride horses across varying states and countries around the world.  One such setup that supports jockeys in the United Kingdom is the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA).

Originally set up as the Jockeys Associaton of Great Britain (JAGB) it was rebranded in 2008 to the PJA. The PJA is “dedicated to supporting jockeys in all aspects of their profession and negotiates with all the racing authorities and other trade bodies to improve the jockeys’ standing. It gives support with any problems which may arise and offers a personal service.”

Promoting, protecting and representing the interests of professional jockeys is seen as their mission statement in relation to the best interest of British horseracing.

The Professional Jockeys Association | Equus Education
The Professional Jockeys Association | Equus Education

A main role of the PJA revolves around jockey sponsorship.

“The PJA offers unrivalled benefits to its commercial, media and PR partners enabling a reach to an extensive and targeted audience. With an ever increasing popularity and outstanding media coverage on terrestrial and satellite TV channels, sponsored Jockeys provide companies with exceptional daily media exposure whether they are sponsoring a group of Jockeys or one individual.”

In whatever aspect of the equine industry you aim to get into, it’s worth knowing about organisations that can benefit you and establish your career.  If you plan to ride racehorses in the United Kingdom, then the Professional Jockeys Association is worth knowing about.

“I understood then, with absolute certainty, that the ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy and spirit is beyond what most of the human world realises. This is why their impact on us can be so instant, so consistently positive, so transformational.” ― Pam Billinge

The Jockey’s Guild

The online dictionary definition of a guild is “an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.”  And so the Jockey’s Guild could be looked at as a setup with a focus on jockeys, working towards setting guidelines and rules to protect them in a racing environment.

The Jockey's Guild | Equus Education
The Jockey’s Guild | Equus Education

According to the history of the Jockey’s Guild it was back in the 1940s that frustration was rising around the environment in which horse riders worked.  There was little concern for their needs as they rode horses for other people.  For riders that were unable to ride due to disability or injury from race riding, there was no support.

The Jockeys Community Fund and Guild in 1940 was precipitated by the racing injury of Sammy Renick. When Eddie Arcaro visited Renick, who was recuperating in the hospital from a broken leg, their discussion led to the formation of an organization that would represent the concerns of jockeys.”

Those who founded this organisation were the leading jockeys of the turf at that time.  These included Eddie Arcaro, Don Meade, John Longden, “Red” Pollard and many more. As it states on their website, the objects of the Jockeys Community Fund and Guild are:

  1. To accumulate, by contributions and dues from the members, a fund from which would be distributed financial aid.
  2. To encourage and foster good morale and good character of its members
  3. To support a policy of fair play and honest treatment as to owners, turf clubs and racing clubs
  4. To uphold the best interests of horse racing
  5. To assist in every honorable way to further the interests of its members
  6. To furnish financial aid to any member of the club at such time and in such amounts as he may deserve and within the ability of the club to afford
  7. To establish a means whereby members of the club would have available additional assurance of freedom from want and insecurity in the event of misfortune and inability to earn.
  8. Any other lawful purpose consistent with the specific objects stated in this article

The guild has helped to purchase insurance for jockeys by racetracks and get ambulances on site at tracks. Fees for jockeys have increased over time and sanitary conditions in jockeys’ rooms have been improved.  Other improvements have related to helmets, increased insurance, changing of racing rails material – the list goes on.

The Guild has been set up to improve racing conditions and the welfare of jockeys in the industry.  As needs arise, they are able to be addressed and funds acquired to purchase, change, improve or introduce new products and settings.  Whatever industry you work in, it is worth knowing if there is a setup that will help to fight for your rights within it.

The Australian Jockeys Association

Although this website is aimed at helping you to develop your horse career, I love that there are many sites that do that for individual horse related careers! Take the Australian Jockeys Association for example. As it states on their website, “our goal is to provide Jockeys with all the information needed to maximise their careers.”

The Australian Jockeys Association | Equus Education
The Australian Jockeys Association | Equus Education

You can utilise the AJA website to find information regarding insurance, about racing rules, and even how to become a jockey.  There is even what to do if you’ve had an injury or fall. The site is broken up into the different states of Australia.  Then there are resources and contacts for each of these states. Great!

So how did it come about? Back in 2001 it was determined that a national body for jockeys should be established. Before then, there was one for each state and they were unable to meet demand and resource needs effectively.

“In April 2002, representatives from all State and Territory associations met in Melbourne and agreed that a national peak body to represent the interests of all jockeys in Australia should be established as soon as practicable. It was unanimously agreed that this body should be known as the Australian Jockeys Association (AJA).”

The Australian Jockeys Association

Perhaps you’re riding as a jockey in Australia, but you want to look into riding overseas. Well they’ve got this covered, too! In fact, you can be led to links for the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, the United States, New Zealand and the list goes on! There’s also Canada, Korea, Ireland, France and Germany. What a line up!

If you plan to ride race horses in Australia, I encourage you to check out this resource.  It aims to keep you informed and also to help you succeed.

Equestrian Legacy Radio Online for all to Hear

I recently saw a reference to Equestrian Legacy Radio. I think they were a sponsor for a horse product on a website I was viewing. Well it looks like this setup is a live talk radio show that is available online for anyone to hear who desires to. It is a horse focused radio for equestrians and those who love the lifestyle that is western and equestrian.

Like other radio stations there is music and conversation. Guests include various equestrians from differing disciplines. They are brought onto the show to discuss current horse events and other topics that are of interest to horse owners and enthusiasts.

Equestrian Legacy Radio Online for all to Hear | Equus Education
Equestrian Legacy Radio Online for all to Hear | Equus Education

Equestrian Legacy Radio

It is possible to listen to Equestrian Legacy Radio live, but for previous sessions, Podcasts are available in an archive. Radio hosts include Bobbi Jean Bell and Gary Holt. The parent company of Equesetrian Legacy Radio is the Equestrian Legacy Group.  Gary is the founder as well as the president of this.

Gary has said of this radio setup:

“New technology has allowed us to reach people and make new friends Around the World with Online Radio, who share the same interest and passion for both horses and music. The goal of EQUESTRIAN LEGACY RADIO is to both entertain and inform our audience and for them to feel as though they are visiting with friends around the campfire or the kitchen table…we hope we’re doing that.”

The internet really has opened up options to share your passions with many others.  How great to especially do so with those who share the same interests. The fact that people from anywhere around the world can take part through the internet is an incredible thing.

The International Mountain Trail Challenge Association

There are so many sports within the equestrian world, it seems! There was a recent reference to the IMTCA and an arena set up for horse riding on Facebook.  It had me inquiring about the acronym. This apparently stands for the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association.

There are so many equine associations, it’s a joy to learn about a new one! In my mind, where there’s an association for a particular horse sport, vocation or study, it means there’s a body of supporters of this. And so rules and regulations, standards and also contacts are accumulated.  This is to help inform others.

A search online wielded the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association website. It states:

“Mountain Trail Challenge is an international equestrian “extreme sport” which is fun and exciting to watch and participate in. This discipline is open to horses and riders of all skill levels. You will see riders in English and Western saddles smiling and having a great time as they participate at each challenge.”

International Mountain Trail Challenge Association | Equus Education
International Mountain Trail Challenge Association | Equus Education

The association was set up under the laws of the State of Washington in the United States. However, the IMTCA has gained exposure in Australia and other countries as well. The mission statement involves promoting and encouraging the development of this sport, as well as public interest in it. It is also dedicated to professionalism and excellence in trail riding. This is on top of establishing – and maintaining – standards of performance and judging that are suitable, professional and fun-filled for families.

The International Mountain Trail Challenge Association

Recognised as a sport, skills within this type of trail riding focus on excellent horsemanship as well as trail riding. There are challenges that are held to test horses and their riders. A challenge – or show – focuses on testing horse and rider and their ability to navigate natural as well as man-made obstacles.  This is to be done in a safe manner. Technical skills that demonstrate excellent horsemanship will also be required. Three different levels of shows are on offer to riders at various challenges.

Love trail riding but want to take your horsemanship skills to the next level? Why not see if there is an IMTCA setup in your local area? If there isn’t, perhaps you’re in the position to establish one!

Apprentice Jockey Course in Australia

I recently stumbled across the Racing Academy and their Apprentice Jockey Course.  I am sure this would be a great resource for people wanting to get into race riding of thoroughbreds in Australia.  If you plan to be a jockey, you need to go through an apprenticeship.

Apprentice Jockey Course in Australia | Equus Education
Apprentice Jockey Course in Australia | Equus Education

I believe this often requires finding a trainer who will take you on and offer you horses to ride.  In this way you’re improving your riding skills whilst gaining experience.  And most importantly, you have someone providing you with the opportunity to ride in race events.

If you plan to be a jockey in Australia, then you have to undertake a course to gain a qualification.  And of course contacts would help, too!  I have no doubt that this is the case in other countries, too.  If you love horse riding and want to look into riding timed work as a career option, I encourage you to check out what’s involved in becoming an apprentice jockey.  Racing is big in Australia – a multi-billion dollar industry.  If you want to make a career of riding horses, the thoroughbred industry can be a good place to start.  This is due to the multitude of horses that race across the country.

Want to find out more about the course in which:

“This qualification is from the Racing Industry Training Package. It is for people who want to work as a jockey for a thoroughbred racing environment. As a jockey you will possess the highest level of race riding and horse handling skills, as well as a high degree of decision-making skills, to exercise judgement during races when choosing and assessing mounts.”

Be sure to check out the above website link.

“I understood then, with absolute certainty, that the ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy and spirit is beyond what most of the human world realises. This is why their impact on us can be so instant, so consistently positive, so transformational.” ― Pam Billinge

The Jockey Agent as a Career Choice

It was a few years ago now whilst first working for the National Centre for Equine Education that I became aware of the career a jockey agent.  Pondering the position, I realised that it made sense that jockeys would have agents much like actors may have.  So what would the role entail?

Someone who acts as an agent for jockeys would be involved in securing rides for the jockey to undertake.  This would mean conversing with trainers and lining up rides in line with a particular jockey’s capabilities, weight and location where they are able to ride.  It is possible that the agent also helps to negotiate fees for the rider.  This would be done with the trainer who is contracting them to ride in a race.

The Jockey Agent as a Career Choice | Equus Education
The Jockey Agent as a Career Choice | Equus Education

I have no doubt that the agent gets a cut of the jockey’s earnings, or gets a set fee.  In return they will be expected to secure as many rides as possible for a jockey within a race meeting.

After all, the more they ride, the more potential they have to earn and gain a name for themselves.  For a jockey agent, it would be beneficial to have good negotiating skills as well as good people skills.  And of course a knowledge of local horses, trainers, conditions at particular tracks and the rules of racing.

The Jockey Agent as a Career Choice

Interested in finding out more about this career choice?  You can head along to read an article from 2017 about jockey agents.  This article covers education and training required, licensing as a jockey agent and even anticipated salary for this role.  According to this article, the North American Riding Academy anticipate there being about 1500 licensed jockeys in America.

If you take into consideration that an agent represents 1-3 jockeys in total, this leaves a lot of room for jockey agents to secure clients and work on their behalf!  The thoroughbred industry would no doubt have the highest level of jockeys and better purses for race riding.  But jockeys are also found amongst other breeds including Quarter Horses, Standardbreds and Arabians.  If you love race riding and representing people, then this could be a career choice for you.

Equestrian Entries for the New Zealand Horse Rider

Whilst learning about the Equidays event in New Zealand recently I found myself then guided to the Equestrian Entries website.  I had no idea that there was an online resource for horse riders in New Zealand!  Equestrian Entries provides details on horse competitions around New Zealand.

Equestrian Entries is a Great Online Resource for NZ Riders | Equus Education
Equestrian Entries is a Great Online Resource for NZ Riders | Equus Education

You can register to be able to make use of this online resource that allows you to look at events in New Zealand.  You can also view your entries into said competitions and the results.  Wonderful!  To register you’ll need an ESNZ Registration number.

Equestrian Entries for Horse Riders

I love the concept of this site.  Now I may be ignorant and perhaps there are such sites for Australia, the UK and US, too!  But I love that there is one place you can go to find out about national horse competitions, register in these events and in time, see the results.  For each event, you can see:

  • start and closing dates of the event
  • the discipline/s covered
  • the location of the show

You can even view location details on GoogleMaps, check out the schedule and enter yourself into the event.  Wonderful!  So if you’re a rider in New Zealand, be sure to make use of this incredible resource!  And if you’re located elsewhere, why not do a search to see if there’s something similar you can utilise?  And if there isn’t… maybe this is an area for someone to step in and create one 😉

“There is a lot of folklore about equestrian statues, especially the ones with riders on them. There is said to be a code in the number and placement of the horse’s hooves: …four legs in the air means that the sculptor was very, very clever. Five legs in the air means that there’s probably at least one other horse standing behind the horse you’re looking at; and the rider lying on the ground with his horse lying on top of him with all four legs in the air means that the rider was either a very incompetent horseman or owned a very bad-tempered horse.” ― Terry Pratchett

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The Schleese AdapTree

I am currently reading Suffering in Silence by Jochen Schleese. I am learning a lot more about saddle fit and the implications for horse and rider if things aren’t correctly fitted! Nearly halfway through the book, there have been a few references to the AdapTree for saddles.

As it says on the Schleese website:

Caring from the inside out, the Schleese AdapTree® is the first tree which adapts to the horse’s bio-mechanical movements. Through the calculation and implication of the rider’s weight, the AdapTree® is fitted and infinitely adjustable at any time by one of our authorized Certified Saddle Fit Technicians or Saddle Ergonomists.

Do you have an AdapTree in Your Saddle? | Equus Education
Do you have an AdapTree in Your Saddle? | Equus Education

The AdapTree

The gullet plate within the tree of the saddle is adjustable. This means as your horse puts on muscle or loses tone around the withers, it can be adjusted to fit its shape.  This will also improve saddle fit, decreasing the chance of discomfort to the horse. The tree is made out of polyurethane which is flexible.  Schleese indicate on their site that this “provides complete freedom of motion and comfort, flexing with your horse’s lateral movement to improve connection and communication.”

Now this particular idea is new to me, but I believe an important concept in a saddle. The tree points tend to be forward facing in saddles. They often sit just above the shoulder blades, but if incorrectly fitted can restrict shoulder movement. In the AdapTree, the tree points are rear-facing, so that this doesn’t impact the shoulder blades in a negative way.

Another new idea to me highlighted in Suffering in Silence was that saddles are made by men, for men. Anatomically, they’re not correct for females and limit their chance to achieve the best position and centre of gravity whilst in the saddle. The middle of the AdapTree has a padded cut-out area that removes pressure from the front pelvic area. This means women can sit correctly without having associated issues that can arise from too much pressure in this area. Apparently it’s not uncommon for women to gain back pain and even health issues because of too much pressure whilst in the saddle or poor positioning.

I love when horse related products are created out of a need or a desire to make something even better. I believe the Schleese AdapTree® is one such product!

Profile On: Alex Brown, Former Exercise Rider

Alex Brown recently released a novel relating to the horse racing industry.  As someone who was a professional exercise rider, he has fit a lot of his knowledge into his book Missionville.  He also kindly took the time to answer some questions about exercise riding as a career.

Former Exercise Rider, Alex Brown with a Fan | Equus Education
Former Exercise Rider, Alex Brown with a Fan | Equus Education

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
For now, very little, unfortunately, unless you count writing about them, and my new book, Missionville!

What was it exactly that you did?
I worked in horse racing, in the United States, on and off for more than 25 years. During this time, I mostly exercised horses as a salaried or freelance exercise rider. A typical morning would mean galloping about 7-8 horses, starting around 6, and finishing around 10 in the morning.

This gave me plenty of time to do some other stuff. During the latter years, a lot of my additional time was devoted to horse welfare issues, horse slaughter and the retirement of racehorses.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes, an exercise rider can do quite well. My last salaried job, which was for Steve Asmussen, I was earning around about $30k salary. Because of the short working hours, I could do a little extra work, if I wanted. That might have been breaking young horses, freelancing a few extra horses at the track, or working in a role at the races (which I never did).

Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education
Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
I was lucky. I’ve ridden all my life, and went to the US to ride for a racehorse trainer who had recently moved to the US too. Basically, you need some decent riding experience before heading to a racetrack, and then you need a trainer who will spend some time helping you get started. You don’t want to be thrown in the deep-end straightaway.

Riding on a track is quite different to equestrian riding. You need to learn how to ride off a neckstrap, bridge your reins, ride with shorter stirrups, and so forth. Strangely, you learn to ride longer, with more experience, but it’s important to get the balance of riding short.

Favourite horse memory?
That’s a tough one, after twenty five or so years. But it will be about a horse winning a race. It’s just a great feeling, after galloping a horse for awhile, to see it do well at the races.

Most recently, probably when Maple Time won a little race at Penn National. When I worked for Asmussen, any time Salty Langfuhn won a race.

Future goals?
Now I’m back in the UK, and retired from horse racing, who knows. I really enjoyed writing Missionville, which is in part based on my experiences at the race tracks in the US. But I’m not sure writing full-time will ever be my calling. I am fortunate to have another career in the sphere of MBA admissions, so that keeps me busy too.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
I just love horses. We owe so much to them.