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How Do Jockeys Pick Their Silks?

Horse racing silks, also known as racing colors, are the brightly colored garments that jockeys wear during a race. They are typically made of lightweight fabrics such as silk, cotton, or nylon and come in a variety of colors and designs. The silks are designed to help distinguish the jockey from the other riders, making it easier for spectators to identify the horses and their riders.

History of Horse Racing Silks

The use of silks in horse racing dates back to the 16th century. In Britain, the practice began with the wealthy and powerful owning multiple horses, which made it difficult for spectators to identify the horses and their riders. To solve this problem, each owner chose a distinctive color for their horses and riders to wear, thus creating the modern-day racing silks.

What Do the Colors Mean?

Today, the colors of the silks are used to identify the horse and its owner. For example, a horse owned by a royal family may wear blue and white, while a horse owned by a business may wear yellow and black. Each color has a specific meaning and can signify the horse’s owner or the jockey’s nationality.

How Do Jockeys Pick their Silks?

Jockeys have a few options when it comes to selecting their silks. They can either choose the silks that are provided by the horse owner, or they can purchase their own silks.

Owner-Provided Silks

Many horse owners will provide the jockey with a set of silks that are specific to the horse. These silks will typically match the colors of the horse’s stable and its owner. The jockey will wear these silks while racing the horse, unless they decide to purchase their own.

Purchasing Silks

Jockeys may choose to purchase their own silks if they are not provided by the horse owner. The jockey will usually have the option to choose from a variety of colors and designs. Popular colors for jockeys include black, yellow, blue, and green.

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Rules for Wearing Silks

There are certain rules that jockeys must follow when it comes to wearing silks. For instance, the silks must be neat and clean and in good condition. Additionally, the jockey must not alter the silks in any way, as this could lead to disqualification from the race.

Safety Considerations

Safety is a top priority when it comes to horse racing and the silks that jockeys wear. The silks must be made of a lightweight, breathable fabric that is fire-resistant. Additionally, the fabric must be able to stretch and move with the jockey while they are riding.

Care and Maintenance of Silks

In order to keep the silks in good condition, jockeys must take proper care of them. After each race, the jockey should hang the silks up to air dry and then store them in a cool, dry place. Additionally, the silks should be washed regularly to prevent the buildup of sweat and dirt.

Benefits of Wearing Silks

There are several benefits to wearing silks while horse racing. For instance, silks help to distinguish the jockey from the other riders, making it easier for spectators to identify the horses and their riders. Additionally, silks can provide the jockey with a sense of pride and accomplishment.


Choosing the right silks is an important decision for jockeys. They must take into consideration the safety of the fabric, the rules for wearing silks, and the care and maintenance of the garment. Additionally, they must choose a color and design that is unique and that will help them stand out from the other riders. By taking all of these factors into consideration, jockeys can make sure they select the perfect set of silks for their next race.