Women Horse Jockeys
 By Saferaphus   •   14th Feb 2017   •   444 views   •   0 comments
In most equine sports, there is a fairly equal number of men and women who compete. In fact, if you attend many horse shows, you may feel that there are far more women than men. In polo, jumping, dressage and most other sports, men, and women compete with equal rules, numbers and success. One sport that hasnít quite caught up is horse racing. A woman jockey on the track is still a bit of an unusual sight. In Australia, itís estimated that about 25% of jockeys are women. And while just less than 50% of the young riders apprenticing are female there are still a number of factors working against female jockeys.

Of course, women have probably been racing horses for generations. Most rode without a license. To get a license in the U.S.A. a rider must prove things like age, experience in a specific number of races, has served an apprenticeship, has personal integrity, and good vision. This license allows them to race in most jurisdictions. Most countries have a similar system.

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While there were many pioneers, Diane Crump is acknowledged to be the first modern female jockey. Crump became the first woman to ride in a pari-mutuel race in the United States at Hialeah Park, Florida, on February 7, 1969. She did not win her first Ďofficialí race, but shortly after, she did win a race. While many fans were delighted to see a Ďgirlí win, others shouted that she should go back to the kitchen. Few male jockeys were accepting. A year later she became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. After an accident that left her with broken ribs and several breaks in her leg, she was told that she would not ride again. Proving her mettle, Crump started racing again three years later.

The winningest woman jockey is Julie Krone. Krone holds the distinction of being the first woman to ride a winner in a Triple Crown race. Krone grew up in a horse loving family and was a bit of a diminutive daredevil. She became an apprentice in 1980 and then rode in her first race as professional a year later. She became known as scrappy and was not afraid to throw a punch if provoked. Between her riding record and her reputation, she earned the respect of peers and fans.

But, despite being easily provoked, Krone was known to be a patient and strategic rider. By 1992 she was ranked one of the top ten jockeys in the U.S. In 1993 she was honored with several awards including Glamour Top 10 Women of the Year and CBS News top five Women of the Year.

Near the end of 1993, a devastating fall during a race almost ended her career - and possibly her life. After two surgeries, three weeks in hospital and eight months of recuperation she returned to racing, but not without battling physical and emotional pain. Another crash made her question whether or not to continue riding. But she did, and not until 1999 did she announce her retirement. The following year, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame. During her career, she had 20,000 mounts, 3,500 winners, and $81 million in purses, but takes the most pride in being an example of a woman who persevered.

These are only two stories of jockeys who broke into a male-dominated sport. There are many others who work hard at what they love. But, clearly, we still have a way to go when it comes to women jockeys. Sexism is still alive and well, right down to questioning the skill, strength, stamina and dedication of any woman jockey. Any jockey that doesnít get trust from owners or trainers is not going to be put on their best horses. But if you donít get good horses to ride then youíre going to ride fewer winners - and owners and trainers want winning riders.
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