Last Updated on October 9, 2021 by Cristina
It is safe to say that horse jockeys are one of the smallest athletes of the equine world! It can be hard to understand how these tiny horse riders can control such a powerful animal. But what is the average jockey height and weight?
Let’s take a look at the size and weight of jockeys and find out more about these talented riders.
What Is A Horse Jockey?
A horse jockey is a professional rider who competes in horse races. This is a competitive business – most jockeys are self-employed and are asked by horse trainers to race their horses for a fee. They also get a cut of the winnings if the horse is placed in the race.
This means that talented jockeys are more likely to be asked to race again by the same trainer. However, it is not all about skill and experience. The weight of the jockey is also a vital factor when selecting the right jockey.
Why Is A Jockeys Size Important?
In a horse racing event, one very important factor is that all horses in the race are carrying the right amount of weight. This weight is determined by the racing authorities before the race is run. There are two ways in which this weight is agreed upon.
The first of these a handicap or allowance system, which aims to give an evenly contested race. The weight a horse carries is calculated based on its past performance and race records. A successful and experienced horse will carry more weight than a horse that has never run a race before.
The other system applies to races where the assigned weight is the same for all similar horses in a race. For example, a listed race might give all fillies who have never won a race the same weight allowance.
Maiden races are for a group of horses with little racing experience. In this type of race, the same weight allowance will normally apply to all horses in the race.
When it comes to running the race, the weight the horse carries includes all the horse’s tack and the weight of the jockey. If the weight is too low, then lead weights will be added to the saddle to bring it up to the required amount.
On the other hand, if the weight is too high there is nothing that can be done. The horse will have to carry the extra weight during the race. This will put the horse at a disadvantage to other horses in the race.
Racehorse trainers want to give their horse the best possible chance of winning, so they do not want their horse to carry any extra weight. They also dislike the use of lead weights, preferring the horse to carry the live weight of the jockey. To achieve this the jockey needs to be as close as possible to the weight assigned to the horse.
Do Jockey Heights Matter?
If you’ve ever seen a group of jockeys mounting up in the parade ring you will have no doubt noticed that they are not very tall! But does the height of a jockey matter?
Unlike weight, there are no minimum or maximum height requirements for a jockey. However, a tall person would struggle to get down to the low weights required by horse trainers. A tall jockey with a low body weight would struggle to have enough strength and fitness to ride a racehorse.
To understand this better, we need to think about how physically fit jockeys need to be. The average racehorse weighs over 1000 pounds, and the jockey must be able to control their horse at speeds of over 40 miles per hour. This is very physically demanding and requires a high level of fitness and strength.
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Here is a good example to show how height matters. The average weight for a 5’2 man is 137 pounds, whereas a taller 5’8 man will have an average weight of 156 pounds. So, if a horse has a handicap weight of 120 pounds, the shorter jockey will need to lose a lot less weight than the taller one.
What Is The Average Jockey Height And Weight?
In America, the average weight of a jockey is 109 to 116 pounds. The range of weight that a horse can carry during a race is normally between 113 and 118 pounds, including tack. So, jockeys in the average weight range can normally hit the target weight for the race.
The average American male weighs 197 pounds, so a jockey is nearly half this weight!
To enable them to achieve lower body weights, jockeys normally tend to be shorter than most horse riders. The average height is between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 6 inches. Studies have shown that the mean height of male American jockeys is 5’2, which is nearly 8 inches shorter than the national average height.
Jockeys will go to extreme lengths to keep their weight low and are incredibly fit athletes. They will eat an extreme diet that is high in protein to build muscle, but low in fat to avoid putting on excess weight. On race days they will spend time in a steam room to lose vital pounds, in the hope that they will ride their horse to victory.
So, as we’ve learned, the average weight of a jockey is between 109 and 116 pounds. This makes them one of the smallest horse riding athletes in the world, but physically they are very strong and fit. There is no restriction on the height of a jockey, but they tend to be quite small as this helps to keep their weight down.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the average jockey height and weight. Have you ever seen a live horse racing event? Or maybe you have some questions about jockey heights and size? Please add a comment below!