There are many options to get involved in Australia’s lucrative thoroughbred horse racing industry. We all know about the trainers and the jockeys, but these are not the only career opportunities available.
The track rider plays a regular and pivotal role in the development and exercise of Australian racehorses, and the track rider is what we’ll be looking at in more detail in this post.
What Exactly Is a Track Rider?
Track riders are also known as racehorse exercise riders, and in an unofficial way, they are also racehorse trainers. They exercise the horses on behalf of the trainer and therefore often work hand in hand with the trainer in training the racehorses.
Many track riders are self-employed, working with a variety of horses and trainers, but some may find stable employment with the one trainer or horse stable.
The Many Tasks of a Track Rider
Every racehorse trainer has their own way of doing things, and much of this will be dictated to by the nature and abilities of the particular horse they are training.
One of the track rider’s main duties is to follow the exercise program the trainer has developed, putting a horse through its paces for walking, trotting, galloping and just generally giving the racehorse the daily exercise it requires to maintain muscle tone and develop as a racehorse.
Many track riders would have helped exercise Melbourne Cup horses, even long before they appeared in such a coveted race. As a track rider you just never know when you’ll be helping develop a champion horse, and you may even get the responsibility to exercise those horses when they are champions.
So apart from exercising the horse, what else does a track rider do?
Track riders need to report the horse’s progress to the trainer, as well as monitor the horse for any signs of discomfort or injury.
Track riders will also assist in the feeding of the horses, washing them and just generally attending to the animal’s overall wellbeing.
Working Conditions for Track Riders
Just like most jobs in the horse racing industry, early morning starts will be required. This is so the horses are not being put through their paces in the heat of the day. It’s part and parcel of the racing industry. So, as a track rider, expect to be up before the sun is up.
Sometimes afternoon exercise programs will be implemented, again to avoid the hottest part of the day. Weekend work at times is a definite possibility as well.
If a track rider works for a number of different trainers, then they could find themselves loaded up with a very hectic schedule.
It’s not a career move that’s going to suit the majority.
Personal Attributes a Track Rider Must Possess
Obviously, you must be very adept at riding a horse and at speed. It’s also a must that the track rider likes and enjoys working with horses, has some affinity with them and an understanding of their attributes and temperament.
Lots of riding can be physically demanding for track riders, so therefore a high level of personal fitness and endurance is essential in this career.
Just like jockeys, it helps if track riders are smaller in stature and watch their diet and monitor their weight consistently.
Most of the work involves being outdoors, so a love of working outside is also essential. Along with this, track riders must be good communicators with both the people they’re working with and horses alike.
Education and Training Requirements
Track riders generally have to at least completed Grade 10. Entering into a traineeship is one of the common ways to learn to become a track rider.
When it comes to official education, it can vary, but generally, a track rider will complete a VOC qualification in racing, and may also need a VET qualification.
Career Prospects for Track Riders
The horse racing industry in Australia isn’t going anywhere. It’s always been a big business and that trend will continue. Therefore, there are always going to be opportunities opening up for trainees and experienced track riders, as they are an essential part of a racehorse’s development and exercise regime.