Jockey Gear

Previously, we have provided you with guides on what tack can be seen at a yard and also on a race day. But what do jockeys require at meetings? A lot of the equipment will be familiar as it is very visible on course but there is a lot more under the surface too…

Jockey Gear

Owners silks

Silks are the different colour shirts that jockeys wear to show which owner owns which horse. The colours and patterns represent one specific owner/owner group, no two silks are the same to avoid confusion. The silks are one size fits all, meaning the shorter jockeys in the weighing room quite literally have to roll up their sleeves and get on with it!

Hat silk

Silks are worn over the top of the jockey’s helmet to show which owner they are riding for. If an owner has two or more horses in a race then the hat silks could be used to differentiate the horses as no two silks should be completely the same.

Helmet

The reason why jockeys wear helmets is rather guessable – to protect their head in case they fall off of their mount. It is compulsory for a jockey to wear a helmet, no matter what type of race. After a fall, big or small, jockeys replace their helmet to ensure that they have maximum protection for their next race.

Goggles

One of the most important pieces of equipment for jockeys is their goggles, they help them see the track for the entirety of the race and protect their eyes from any mud flicking up from the horses’ hooves. It is not unusual to see a jockey wear several different pairs of goggles throughout a race, meaning they can remove the dirtiest pair when their vision is impaired.

Goggles also have different colours and tints so that the light conditions do not hinder their riding. Clear and yellow-tinted goggles are worn when the light levels are low and tinted/darker pairs for when it is sunny.

Undershirt

Jockeys wear an undershirt beneath their silks. They can vary immensely, with some being lightweight and mesh for hot summer days, and others being thicker for the colder meetings.

The undershirt can be determined by what weight the horse has been allocated as the weight of the undershirt can tip the scales at times.

Body protector

In essence, it does what it says on the tin – a body protector is a bulky vest that protects a jockey if they fall off of their horse. It absorbs the impact of the fall and offers a level of protection if the jockey is then kicked or trodden on by other horses in the race.

The body protector does not entirely prevent injury, but it aims to protect the bones and internal organs of jockeys as much as possible.

Waterproof overgarments

These are worn over the top of the body protector to keep them dry.

Breeches

These are the trousers that jockeys wear, but they are all weighted differently which ties in with the allocated weight a horse must carry. Some breeches are thicker than others and thus worn at the wet and windy meetings, whereas others are more lightweight for the summer race days.

Waterproof over breeches

Breeches are very rarely waterproof so some jockeys opt to wear waterproof over breeches. It is far more common to see this item of clothing worn on the flat rather than in National Hunt races.

Base legwear

Underneath their breeches, jockeys will often wear a base layer to keep themselves warm and to protect against rubbing against the saddle. This base layer could be leggings, lights or thermals, which are all very lightweight and shouldn’t influence their overall weight too much..

Boots

Knee-high boots are another crucial piece of equipment for jockeys. They prevent any skin from coming into contact with equipment whilst riding and are also thick enough to prevent rubbing, pinching and potential burns.

Boots come in several different shapes and sizes, and which ones are worn is determined by the weather conditions and, again, the weight that the horse has to carry. Lightweight options are available whilst thicker, heavier pairs are also worn, which are more common over the jumps. The materials can also vary but they are all made with the intention of providing a strong grip on the stirrups and preventing injury.

Pull ups

These are lycra tubular pieces of material that are worn over the calf. They provide another layer of protection for jockeys and can prevent boots from rubbing during a race as well.

Gloves

Jockeys wear gloves to allow them to have a stronger grip whilst they are riding. Although not compulsory, it is rare to see riders without a pair of gloves, especially when riding on rainy days where they risk losing grip of their equipment. Wearing a pair of gloves can also prevent friction burns and offer some protection if a jockey falls off of their mount.

Elastic bands

As we know, silks only come in one size. Therefore, jockeys use elastic bands to tighten the material around their wrists so that they look professional and neat, preventing their sleeves bagging and looking messy.