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How to become a jockey in Kenya

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15317853 643861655786689_8905981156700552355_n 1At just 16 years old, Kenyan teenagers can get a kickstart in the job market by engaging in exciting careers that are considered ‘out of the ordinary’ such as a jockey.

A jockey is a person who rides horses competitively and in Kenya the sport has picked up over the years with the Ngong Racecourse being a favourite hotspot over the weekend for horse riding lovers.

For jockeys however, it is more than just a love for horses, it is a competitive job that requires extensive training and one where a rider’s physique matters a lot. Horse jockeys need to maintain a certain weight to ease the burden on the horse and also so that they can compete at a professional level.

The training administered before one become a jockey allows them to learn the styles of riding which a study in the Royal Veterinary College in England said that it is using the laws of physics to influence the speed of a horse.

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The researchers found that by adjusting their riding styles, jockeys can reduce the energy horses use to bounce them up and down thus increasing their speed and even may be winning the race.

"Whether the jockey is sitting in the saddle or not, the horse still has to carry their weight but by absorbing the jiggles of the horse, the jockey prevents the animal from having to make him go up and down with each stride,” said physicist Andrew Spence, a physicist and a researcher in the study in an interview with Time.com.

“It’s the difference between the horse carrying a moving rider or simply a quantity of lead that weighs the same. The crouched position the jockey assumes throughout pays an additional dividend by minimizing wind resistance.”

In this, we sought on how one can become a jockey in Kenya. We spoke to the Registry Office, Jockey Club of Kenya.

How can one become a horse jockey? One can become a jockey by undertaking lessons from a licensed horse trainer.

Are there particular skills that one requires beforehand? Not really, but one needs to be good with animals and have a low weight (from 45kg – 55kg). One starts as an apprentice and is given an allowance of 5kg. In a race, horses are allocated weights between 50kg – 62kg. Therefore, an apprentice will ride at 45kgs for a horse that’s allocated to carry 50kg.

How long does training to become a jockey take? It varies depending on one’s ability but on average it is from six months to a year. Again it depends on how quick one learns to handle horses and to ride.

Is there a particular education level one is supposed to have attained? No

What is the minimum age for one to become a jockey? 16 years old

Other than horse riding, what other activities do jockeys take part in? Among their duties is grooming of horses, taking them for walks and exercises, feeding them and general clean-up of the stables.

What are some of the challenges that jockeys face? Maintaining a low weight and learning to be patient until one becomes good enough to be winning often.

Would you advise a child to consider being a jockey as a career? Yes. As one becomes better and better, they get more rides and their chances of winning become higher.

How much does a horse jockey earn? A professional jockey earns Shs. 1,500/- per ride and an apprentice 900/- per ride. They also get 10% of winnings and a monthly salary from the stable that retains them.
A professional jockey is one who has more than 50 wins.
An apprentice is one who has less than 50 wins.

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