Horse Jockey Salary Information - National Average

How much does a horse jockey earn? A jockey is someone who races horses, usually as a profession. Jockeys are mostly self-employed, and are asked by horse trainers and owners to race their horses for a fee, and will also get a cut of the purse winnings.

horse jockey salary information

A jockey will start out as an apprentice jockey when they are young, riding horses in the morning for the trainers. He or she must successfully ride a minimum of 20 barrier trials before being allowed to start riding in races. The weight of a jockey usually ranges from 108 - 118 lbs. for flat racing and despite their light weight, they must be able to control a horse that weighs 1200-1400 lbs.

A racing quarter horse has a top speed of nearly 55 miles per hour; a racing thoroughbred can sustain 40 mph for over a mile.

What is a horse jockey?

Horse racing jockeys generally specialize in a specific style of racing. Riders in thoroughbred and quarter horse racing run around an oval ring for various lengths of time. Other races include the horse leaping over obstacles. The basic aim of the rider is to get his horse to the finish line first (winning jockey).

horse jockey salary information

Jockeys are skilled riders who maintain a high degree of fitness. A mix of strength and agility is required to control a horse moving at fast speeds. Jockeys don't simply ride horses; they also urge them to go as fast as they can. Some horses, known as 'speed horses', want to stay out front for the full race whilst other horses need more room on the right to pass.

horse jockey salary information

Every horse is unique, and the jockey works closely with each one to ensure that they perform their best race. Jockeys often collaborate with trainers and horse owners to discuss strategy and what the animal requires from the rider. A jockey will also spend time researching the race track's history, as well as the horses and other jockeys who will be competing.

Before a race, jockeys usually start their day early in the morning. It’s not uncommon for a jockey to warm up a horse they’ll be racing later in the day. Before a race in the afternoon, jockeys will spend 30 minutes in a steam chamber to rest their muscles. The steam room also aids in the loss of one to two pounds before to a race.

A jock mount fee is a payment made to jockeys for each horse they ride. A jockey will get a portion of the purse, which is the money provided to the horse owner for having their horse participate in the race, depending on where they finish (first, second, or third).

horse jockey salary information

How much does a horse jockey earn?

Here's how much most jockeys earn. Horse jockey wages in the United States range from $10,049 to $271,427, with a typical wage of $48,880. The middle 57% of horse jockeys makes between $48,882 and $123,036, with the top 86% making $271,427.

Overall compensation can vary depending on prize money for each race.

Horse jockey pay in India

The average pay for a horse jockey in India is $1.93 per hour. Equalling roughly $4,022.60 per year, on average. While those with 8+ years of experience can earn up to $4,860.46 pear year on average.

Highest paid jockey in history

He competed in over 34,000 races, winning 6,289 of them. Irad Ortiz Jr., the highest-paid rider in the United States in 2020, rode more than 1,260 horses with approximately 300 victories for earnings of little over $21 million. According to BloodHorse, the best 100 jockeys in the United States earned an average of $3.5 million in 2020.

Race and prize money

Assuming the most popular race, The Triple Crown race, here's how the prize money is distributed.

horse jockey salary information

There will be a total of 20 horses competing for the first leg of the Triple Crown. A total of $2 million is up for grabs, and the top five finishers will share it. The owner of the winning horse receives 62% of the prize money, or $1.24 million.

The second and third place jockeys get 5% of their owner's profit ($400,000 and $200,000, respectively), resulting in a $20,000 payout for the second place jockey and a $10,000 check for the third place jockey.

In a Triple Crown race, jockeys that don't finish in the top five make as little as $500.

Races with purses of at least $100,000 in Kentucky award the fourth-place jockey 5% of the fourth-place prize money.

How to become a horse jockey

A limited number of athletes fit the size qualifications and only 12 per year are admitted into the North American Racing Academy (NARA).

To become a jockey, you need two things: a passion for riding and the proper physical type. Beginning to ride and care for horses as soon as possible is the greatest method to gain expertise. Working with horses helps aspiring jockeys to learn how horses act, which will benefit them when it comes to racing preparation.

Height and weight requirements

Horse jockeys must also stay under specific weight limitations in order to compete (typically between 108 - 118 pounds). This can be difficult since a jockey needs to be physically fit to manage such huge animals.


If a person likes working with horses and wants to be a jockey, gaining experience at a racetrack or a stable is a suitable next step. Getting your foot in the door might lead to grooming or 'exercising' horses, which is galloping a horse around a course as a practice run.

Training and Education

There are other Jockey Training Programs available. Students study everything from horse anatomy to racing strategy to grooming and bandaging a horse's legs and stall cleaning.

horse jockey salary information

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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