How Much Do Jockeys Weigh?

Anyone who has ever visited a horse race can quickly recognize jockeys for sure

However, it is impossible to measure their precise height and weight unless you meet one up close

Typically, these traits will vary slightly, depending on the horse breed they ride and horse racing type

However, it is possible to determine average jockey height and weight in most cases

The strict limitations about the size exist for multiple reasons, but horse health is crucial in this case

Table of ContentsWhy Does the Jockey Size Matter?Weight Limit for JockeysHeight Limits for JockeysExtreme Methods Jockeys Take to Stay SmallOther RequirementsSummary

Why Does the Jockey Size Matter?

Jockeys have to follow strict weight requirements to compete in horseracing

As you can guess, the jockey’s height and weight are directly linked to a horse’s health

In other words, carrying a heavier jockey can significantly impact the animal’s ability to compete in future races

Before any race, the commissioners calculate how much weight each horse can carry

That is a so-called assigned horse weight

Racehorse trainers always choose jockeys whose weight is closest to the assigned weight to maximize the chances of winning

The more weight a horse carries, the less chance it has to finish in the first place

Average jockey height and weight

Average body size

Even though there is no limitation in the professional racehorse industry concerning jockey’s height, short jockeys are generally more popular

Most trainers think that more weight in a smaller body better suits the horse

Also, it is believed that shorter jockeys have better control over the horse during the horserace

So, you will see that trainers often opt for the shorter of the two jockeys when they have two of them weighing the same at their disposal

Although regulations don’t set this size, it is rare to see a jockey taller than 68 inches (173 m)

Weight Limit for Jockeys

Two factors determine weight limits for jockeys

The first one is the size of the horse and how much weight the individual animal can carry

Racing type

The key is to accelerate speed as fast as possible for flat racing, making it more convenient for shorter and lighter jockeys

On the other hand, jump racing requires additional strength and endurance when controlling the horse

This race type requires taller and heavier jockeys who need to weigh 108 to 118 pounds (49 – 535 kg) on average

Keep in mind that some horse races have special requirements regarding the jockey’s size

For instance, their weight limit in the Kentucky Derby is 119 pounds (54 kg)

After adding the tack weight, it will go up to 126 pounds (57 kg)

In the UK, jockeys participating in flat races need to adapt to the minimum weight limit of 112 pounds (51 kg)

However, National Hunt jockeys won’t allow weighing over 140 pounds (64 kg)

Weight control at horse racing

Although most racehorses can carry approximately 118 to 122 pounds (53 – 55 kg), it is necessary to add equipment weight

That is one of the reasons why the weight guidelines are so strict at horseraces

Nowadays, all jockeys have weigh-in both before and after the race

It also includes the equipment weight

The organizers will provide small lead weights if a jockey weighs less than the set minimum and add it to the saddle

Finally, jockeys need to check their weight once again after the race, as well

Since it is impossible to achieve the weight the horse carries during the race accurately, it is acceptable for the jockey’s weight to vary by 4 pounds (2 kg)

Height Limits for Jockeys

As I have already mentioned, while weight limits are a big deal in horseracing, there are no height limits

However, this doesn’t mean that you will find jockeys of all sizes

On the contrary, most jockeys are 58 to 67 inches (147 – 170 m) high on average

In both the US and the UK, the average man jockey’s height is 69 inches (175 m)

In other words, most professionals are shorter than an average male

As I have already mentioned, shorter jockeys meet the strict weight requirements easier

Taller jockeys can reduce the weight until they meet the racehorse trainers’ requirements

Jump racing is a better alternative for taller jockeys due to the less strict weight requirements

Tall jockeys typically weigh more, so they have the additional stamina necessary for this horseracing type

As usual, there are always exceptions to the rule, so you can find a few successful jockeys much taller than their competitors

One of the recent examples is Patrick Sankey, who won the point-to-point race in 2019

He is 79 inches (2 m) tall, which is an entirely unexpected and atypical height for this profession

The deceased professional Australian jockey, Stuart Brown, was 74 inches (188 m) tall

Since he died young at the age of 43, there were many speculations that his weight problems were one of the causes for such a short lifespan

The most well-known and successful tall jockey of all time was Bruce Hobbs

Extreme Methods Jockeys Take to Stay Small

Jockeys have rigorous diets and often follow extreme weight-loss routines to maintain the required weight and remain competitive in the sport

Sometimes, jockeys take rigorous measures to keep the weight within the required limits

The most known extreme methods jockeys can use include:

Many professional jockeys skip meals when they feel their weight might be a problem in a particular horserace

That is especially the case in the few days before big and famous races that bring high amounts of money

In this case, the diet will depend on the jockeys themselves

Jockeys often use pills to get water out of their bodies and consequently lose water weight

As a result, frequent use will negatively affect their health in the long run

Flipping is one of the unhealthiest methods jockeys use

They force themselves to vomit before a race to lose weight

You can’t find these bowls anymore, but the habit of vomiting a few hours before a race is still popular among professional jockeys

Professional jockeys are often compared to freelancers since they constantly change horses and clubs

They also need to advertise themselves to different organizations and horse owners all the time

The jockey’s body and size are their primary characteristics

As athletes, they need to take great care of their bodies like any professionals in other sports

Therefore, professional jockeys follow rigorous diets and workout regimes to stay in good shape and meet the weight requirements

They also have to pass different fitness tests and weight check-ups to strike new deals

The best option in the USA is the North American Racing Academy that offers them a 2-year program

Being a professional jockey is no easy job and requires a lot of discipline, stamina, athleticism, and mental strength

Plus, jockeys need to regularly maintain their weight to meet the strict limits that race commissioners set

If jockeys don’t meet the weight requirements, they can’t participate in competitions

Unfortunately, some methods to keep the weight under control often lead to severe health problems

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I started to think about the size of the jockeys and how they must feel being so small compared to the horse

I researched the jockey sizes and found that they are even smaller than I thought

On average, horse jockeys weigh between 108 to 118 pounds & their height is 4’10” to 5’6″

To ride a horse in a race, jockeys must meet a weight limit set by the racing commission

To make weight, jockeys often starve themselves and use diuretics to lose water weight

Jockeys have to meet minimum weight requirements to ensure all horses in a race are fairly matched

For riders, meeting the minimum standards and staying healthy is challenging

When seeing the small size of some of the jockeys, I often wonder if they’re strong enough to handle a racehorse flying down the racetrack

This thought leads to another question, why can’t jockeys be big?

Racing commissions set a minimum weight for each horse in a race; it’s typically 115-116 pounds inclusive of tack; there are no minimum height requirements

However, it is near impossible for a tall person to meet the required weight and still have enough strength to ride and control their horse

Jockeys walking to their mounts for a race

Before each race, horses are designated an amount of weight they must carry during the race

To ensure the correct amount, the Jockey must step on the scales and weigh with his gear in hand (including the saddle)

If the weight happens to be less than the designated amount the horse was assigned, the difference will be made up by thin lead weights in a special saddle cloth

Once the race is over, all the jockeys must repeat the process

They will grab their riding gear and weigh

Weighing ensures that the horse carries the proper race during their run

Racehorse trainers prefer a jockey weighs as close as possible to the assigned weight

They believe the weight is carried better by the horse when on a live body rather than extra weights in a bag

I wrote an article all about Jockeys, including some interesting facts about why they dress the way they do

“Some riders, will all but saw their legs off to get within the limit” Hall of Fame Jockey Eddie Arcaro

Racehorse owners always want a lightweight jockey riding their horses, and Jockeys only make money when they ride

In 1929 riders were allowed to weigh as low as 95 pounds, including the equipment weight

Over the years, Jockeys have used various methods to reach their weight goals

Weight loss methods used by horse Jockeys

The following list is the most common weight loss methods used by Jockeys:

Skipping meals: The Chicago Rehabilitation Institute studied Jockeys’ health; they found that 69 percent of them skipped meals to lose weight

Dehydration: Jockeys use diuretics to lose water weight

Jockeys also use saunas and hot baths to reduce water weight — the use of Laxis

Excessive exercise: Jockeys will dress in rubber suits or heavy sweatsuits and run to lose weight quickly

Like other athletes who must meet strict weight requirements, Jockey put their bodies through an extreme challenge

Not only must they lose vast amounts of weight, but they must also stay healthy enough to ride and direct their horse

The lighter a rider is, the more horses he can ride

Jockeys suffer serious health problems to make weight

Jockeys’ battle to make weight leads to short and long-term health effects

Some adverse effects of their strive to lose weight are dental erosion, nutritional deficiencies, menstrual irregularity, low bone density, dehydration, and heat stress

Any of which can harm the rider on race day

As we know, the average weight for a jockey is between 108-118lbs, and ordinary Jockeys stand between 4’10” and 5’6″, the average being 5’2″ tall

Jockeys having to cut weight to 105lbs is dangerously unhealthy

Besides increasing the burden horses carry in a race, it makes sense to include more female jockeys because fit females naturally have less weight to lose to ride in a race

Recently doctors developed a special diet and fitness regimen geared to help jockeys maintain a healthy weight

Although diet modifications provide benefits, the most effective adjustment is to increase the weight horses carry

Long-term dietary abuse creates a lower bone density, making the likelihood of breaking a bone more probable compared to an average person of their size

Falling from a horse six-foot-tall, running 45 miles per hour, is detrimental for an average person

The jockey’s extreme diets continue to plague their long-term health negatively

Forced vomiting alone leads to tooth erosion, cavities, gum problems, water retention, abdominal bloating, stomach distress, fluid loss with low potassium levels, irregular or lack of menstrual periods, swallowing difficulties, esophagus damage, and in some severe cases, rupture of the esophagus, and weakened rectal walls

However, many jockeys use Laxis to remove that last bit of water weight required to make weight

Jockeys use Lasix to drop weight

All of these health issues occur so that these athletes can lose a few extra pounds before their races

Not only is the weight being lost, but their strength and protection weaken as well

Weight limits should be adjusted higher

A rider at a natural weight will retain more muscle and have denser bones

Allowing higher weight limits will prevent many injuries and reduce the adverse long-term health effects caused by the extreme diet

During the 1920s and 1930s, jockeys were pushing their bodies beyond belief to make weight

Hall of fame jockey Eddie Arcaro once stated “Some riders will all but saw their legs off to get within the limit” For some extraordinary stories about the lengths jockeys would go to lose weight, visit:https://eating-disordersorguk/information/weight-control-among-jockeys/

To take off enough weight to ride a horse in Windsor, Canada, Sunny Greenberg steamed in a Turkish bath, guzzled Epsom salts mixed with jalap, took a boat from Detroit to Windsor, vomiting all the way- donned a rubber suit over several layers of heavy clothing, and ran around and around the track

Why Are There Weight Restrictions for Jockeys?

The simple answer is the health of the horse

Owners and trainers throughout the years have argued a lighter jockey can have better control and lessen the burden on the horse

They believe that increasing the rider’s weight would lead to more racehorse breakdowns

Specifically, they believe there would be more leg injuries from carrying heavier weights

If you are interested in learning more about racehorse injuries, I wrote an article about the rate of horse deaths on race tracks you may find enlightening

However, racehorses regularly train six days a week with heavier jockeys

Most exercise riders weigh around 150-160 lbs, and there have been no negative results in health issues

There are no sound studies that show that an increase in 5 lbs would cause damage to the racehorse

Steeplechase Jockeys weigh, on average, 135 lbs

Steeplechase horses endure extreme pressure on their legs

If these thoroughbred athletes can handle the weight, a racehorse running on a flat should also

Jareth Loveberry is tall, and here he is riding my horse “Sheila”

During a recent race, Deshawn Parker rode one of my horses, and I was surprised to see that he was much taller than me, standing at around 6 feet tall compared to my 5’8″

As one of the most successful jockeys with over 6,000 wins, it got me thinking about whether there have been any other unusually tall jockeys throughout history

There have been some tall jockeys

There have been some tall jockeys

In Australia, Stuart Brown was the tallest jockey in his country at nearly 6 feet, 3 inches

Although he was unusually tall and had to battle to meet the required weight, he still had a long and successful career

Johnny Sellers was the tallest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby; he stood 5′ 7 and a quarter inches

The tallest male jockey still riding is Richard Hughes from the United Kingdom, who is 5’10” tall

However, Louise Moeller from Denmark is the tallest jockey currently riding regardless of gender; she reaches the lofty height of 6’1″ and weighs only 112 lbs

He received a jockey’s license from the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to ride at Hoosier Park

The first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby was Diane Crump in 1970

Below is a YouTube video about horse racing jockeys

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To find out what horses wear during a race, click here

What Is A Horse Jockey?Why Does A Jockeys Weight Matter?How Are Jockeys Weighed?Does The Jockey Height Matter?

Average Height Of A JockeyWhat Is The Average Jockey Weight?Summary

It is safe to say that jockeys are one of the smallest sportsmen of the horse-riding world!

When you see them riding a powerful horse, it can be hard to understand how these lightweight riders can possibly be in control

If you are a horse racing fan, you will realize how important the weight of a jockey is!

Maintaining the right weight is a difficult task for a professional jockey

Let’s take a look at how much jockeys weigh and find out more about these horse racing riders

What Is A Horse Jockey?

A professional rider who competes in horse races is called a jockey

Jockeys are normally self-employed riders, who are paid a fee by horse trainers to ride their horses in a race

If the horse is placed in the race the jockey will also get a proportion of the winnings

A top-class jockey will earn more money, as they will be selected to ride the very best horses

However, whether a jockey is successful is not all about the skill of the rider

The weight of the jockey is also very important, and trainers will take this into account when selecting a jockey

But why does how much jockeys weigh make such a difference?

Why Does A Jockeys Weight Matter?

The world of horse racing is very competitive

This means that certain systems must be in place to ensure that the race is fair and that the horses are as closely matched as possible

One way that this is done is by allocating a certain about of weight that must be carried by each horse

The way this weight is decided is done by racing authorities in one of two ways

The first method is a handicap system, designed to create the perfect conditions for an evenly matched race

The past racing records of a horse are analyzed, and weight is allocated depending on the result

This means that a young, inexperienced horse that has never won a race will carry a lower weight than a successful racehorse

The other method for allocating weight is slightly simpler, as the same weight is given to all the similar horses in a race

For example, all of the colts in a race who have never been placed will carry the same amount of weight

Both of these systems are designed to create an evenly matched race with an exciting finish

If a horse romps home with a lead of many lengths, it will be given a much higher weight next time they race!

The weight allocated to a horse includes the jockey, plus the horse’s tack

These are weighed together and if the weight is too low then lead weights are added to the saddle

Racehorse trainers prefer their horses to carry the live weight of a jockey rather than weights

This means that they will want the rider to be as close to the optimum weight as possible

Therefore, how much a jockey weigh is very important to the trainer

However, if the jockey is over the weight allowance, nothing can be done to reduce this!

The horse must carry the extra weight during the race

Does The Jockey Height Matter?

Average Height Of A Jockey

It is no secret that jockeys are not very tall!

However, unlike weight, the height of a jockey is not taken into account when allocating handicaps for a race

The reason that jockeys are not tall is because of the low body weight they must maintain

A taller jockey would need to get to dangerously low body weight to be under the weight limit set for most racehorses

At this low weight, a tall jockey would not have the physical strength or fitness to ride proficiently during a race

Riding a racehorse is a physically demanding sport that requires incredible levels of endurance and stamina

The average Thoroughbred racehorse weighs over 1000 pounds and can run at speeds of over 40 miles per hour

The jockey needs to be very strong and resilient to control a horse at these speeds!

A jockey who is small in height will have a bodyweight that is lower than a taller jockey

This means that he can retain more weight in proportion to his body, increasing his physical strength

A taller jockey is at risk of being too thin and weak to control a fit racehorse during a high-pressure race

This is a great example to show how the height of a jockey matter

If a horse is allocated a handicap weight of 122 pounds, the taller jockey will need to lose a lot more weight than the shorter one

The height range of jockeys is normally between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 6 inches

The average height of male American jockeys is 5’2, which is nearly 8 inches shorter than the national average

What Is The Average Jockey Weight?

The average weight of a jockey in the US is 109 to 116 pounds

Horses are normally allocated a handicap weight of between 113 and 118 pounds, including the tack

So, once you add the saddle onto the weight of the jockey, there is normally very little additional weight that needs to be added to the horse

So, how much smaller is a jockey than the average person?

The weight of an average American male is 197 pounds, nearly twice as much as a jockey!

Race jockeys are incredibly fit athletes and have to train incredibly hard to keep their weight low and maintain their physical strength

They normally eat a diet that is very high in protein and low in fat

Jockeys also often use steam rooms to lose vital pounds just before an important race

So, as we have learned, a jockey needs to maintain very low body weight to give their horse the best possible advantage in the race

Most jockeys weigh between 109 and 116 pounds, making them one of the smallest horse riding sportsmen in the world

There is no limit to the height of a jockey, but smaller jockeys will find it easier to maintain a lower weight

We’d love to hear your thoughts about how much jockeys weigh

Can you imagine trying to maintain such a low body weight?

Or maybe you have some questions about how handicapping works in horse racing?

Read about Draft Horse Height

Kate ChalmersKate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career

She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management

She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels

She then wenton to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country

This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends

Jockeys are easy to spot at the race track; they wear bright-colored tops with white pants and are the smallest people on the track

But it’s difficult to gauge their height and weight unless you can stand next to one

The average horseracing jockey is 5’2″ tall and weighs 113 lbs, well below the average height and weight for men and women

In the United States, the average man is 5’9 inches tall, and the average height of a woman is 5’4″

Jockeys are small, but they are strong and great athletes

Jockey size matters in horse racing

Jockey size can influence a horse’s speed

Racehorse trainers believe that jockeys that weigh as near as possible to the weight assigned to the horse have an advantage over horses that carry added weight

Racing commissioners assign the amount of weight each horse must carry in a race

Each race has different requirements

If a jockey weighs less than its designated weight, then weight must be added

Trainers also like short jockeys because they believe having the weight compacted in less space is easier on the horse

I tend to think weight spread over a larger area would be easier to carry

If a jockey is 5’6″, weighing 125 pounds, he likely will be much weaker than a jockey 4’11”, weighing the same amount

Weight is added to racehorses to even the field

Weight can be added in two ways, 1) by adding lead pads to pouches in the saddle cloth, or 2) the newer method of using weighted saddle pads

Before a jockey mounts his steed, he is officially weighed, holding his gear; after the race is run, the riders and equipment are weighed again

To read about what a jockey wears on race day, click here

For example, if a race requires a horse to carry 130 lbs, a 123 lbs jockey would likely hit the scales with his gear right at 130 lbs

typical racing gear weighs 7 lbs

If a rider weighs 120 lbs, then three pounds of artificial weights are added to his equipment

Jockey on our horse “Shiela”

Trainers prefer jockeys close to the assigned weight

Based on our example, racehorse trainers would use the jockey that doesn’t have the added weight; this assumes all other aspects of their riding ability are equal

Researchers studied racing times and jockey riding styles

They noted improved horse racing times after jockeys began to ride in the “monkey crouch style”

In this riding, position jockeys isolate themselves from the movement of their horse, which in turn assists the horse in running faster and with less of a burden

So horses with jockeys close to their assigned weight may have an advantage over jockeys that have to carry extra weight

Getting ready for the race

Racehorses typically weigh over 1,200 lbs

Jockeys typically weigh less than 120 lbs and controlling an animal weighing more than 1,200 pounds while running over 40 miles per hour

Because of this, they need to be strong and healthy; however, racehorse owners want lightweight jockeys

Owners and trainers believe the lighter jockeys are, the safer it is for their horses

They spend a lot of money and time developing, raising, and training these horses and believe heavy riders increase the likelihood of injury

Jockeys put their bodies through an extreme challenge to keep their weight low to ensure they get mounts

Lighter-weight riders have the opportunity to ride more horses, and they can’t make money if they aren’t riding

But jockeys have to be careful; they want to stay thin but not lose strength

Shorter jockeys have an advantage because they can maintain muscle strength at low body weight

Maintaining strength at 115 lbs is a feat for any person, but it is especially tricky for tall jockeys

It’s difficult for tall jockeys to make weight

Stuart Brown was the tallest jockey in Australia at nearly 6’3 ″, and his average riding weight was 137 lbs

In the United States, 137 pounds would be hefty for a rider, but they likely have higher weight limits in Australia

Interestingly, the jockey who recently rode my horse at the New Orleans Fairgrounds was Deshaun Parker, who is 5’11”

Jockey and our horse “Ashton”

Jockey’s health suffers from maintaining a low weight

The adverse health effects of long-term dieting include dental erosion, nutritional deficiencies, menstrual irregularity, low bone density, dehydration, and heat stress

It’s no coincidence that jockeys are often injured; falling six-foot from the back of a horse traveling 40 mph with brittle bones is an ugly picture

A 2011 study determined that, on average, a jockey in California can expect to have a fall every 502 rides in Thoroughbred races and every 318 rides in Quarter Horse races

The Jockeys Guild notes that, on average, two jockeys die yearly on US racetracks due to injuries sustained race-riding

In addition to that, 60% of rider falls during a race will result in a “substantive” injury

They further found that in the US, 86% of jockey falls result in a concussion, and another study determined that nearly 20% of race-day injuries were to the head and neck

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Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others

Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others

I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines

I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines

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