Please note: you must have some experience with horses to be considered for this position.
Work riders are individuals responsible for riding racehorses during workouts to keep the animals fit and race ready. Work riders must be skilled at controlling horses of varying ages and racing experience levels. Riders must be in top physical shape and they must maintain appropriate riding weights—generally under 12 stone for Jump Racing and under 10 stone for Flat.
Their main role is to exercise ride a horse in training for a set piece of work i.e. a training session on the gallops
Effectively communicate with trainers in order to understand and accomplish desired goals
Develop a sense of the horse's running rate in order to meet the trainer's expectations for the distance a horse must cover in a given time
Provide knowledgeable feedback on how the horse felt in order to contribute to its ongoing improvement in fitness & performance
Detect and report a horse's injuries or lameness exhibited before or during workouts
Fastidiously keep their safety equipment in good repair
Knowledge, skills and experience required
Knowledge & Skills:
Equine Knowledge and Skills (Gallop Maintenance; Training & Fitness; Horse Care and welfare, Riding)
Racing Knowledge and Skills (Placing horses; Integrity of the Sport)
Interpersonal Skills (ability to work effectively with people; acknowledging diverse opinions; cooperating with others)
Stress Management (ability to work well under pressure, while maintaining effectiveness and self-control in the midst of any one or combination of stressors, including emotional strain, ambiguity, risk to self and fatigue)
Organisational Skills (ability to identify and set priorities, plan and effectively allocate resources)
Initiative / Perseverance (ability to be willing to take action to address needs without being required to do so; staying on task to completion)
Adaptability/Decisiveness (ability and confidence to vary between being flexible and holding firm on a decision; showing leadership by adjusting one’s approach to the demands of a particular task)
Most Work Riders start as a Racing Groom
While many exercise riders go on to become jockeys, former jockeys who can no longer make race weight conversely transition to exercise rider careers
Some individuals couple exercise riding careers with other equine-related roles, such as a horse grooming or stable management
Education & Training
While no specific qualification or training is required to become a career as a Work Rider, many in the industry have qualification in Horsemanship or completed an Exercise Rider Course.
Relevant Industry Courses include:
Exercise Rider Course - The Exercise Rider Course is a 12-week programme for those with riding experience who wish to train as an Exercise Rider. The programme is run by Racing Academy Centre of Education (RACE) and sponsored by Horse Racing Ireland.
Alternative Career Options
Alternative roles within the thoroughbred industry:
Head Lad / Lass
Professional Jockey (Flat/National Hunt)
Work Riders can be employed by a Trainer or are often self-employed, working for many Trainers.
For those working for a single trainer, the Work Rider role may also include yard work before and after exercising.
When employed on a freelance basis the rider would usually be paid per lot (horse) they ride regardless of how long this may take.
Job Availability: Readily
Positions are most readily available in areas of the country with a large amount of racing yards.