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How Often Do Jockeys Get Hurt?

Jockeys are highly skilled and physically fit athletes who race horses at high speeds, often around tight turns. So, it’s not surprising that jockeys can get injured due to the extreme nature of their sport. In fact, the risk of injury is one of the biggest challenges that jockeys face on a daily basis. In this article, we’ll look at how often jockeys get hurt and what some of the most common injuries are.

Risk of Injury

The risk of injury is always present when it comes to horse racing and jockeys are no exception. According to a 2012 study, almost 80% of jockeys reported having suffered some sort of injury during their career. The most common injuries reported were fractures, bruises, and sprains, although more severe injuries such as head trauma and spinal cord damage can also occur.

Factors that Increase Risk of Injury

There are several factors that can increase the risk of injury for jockeys. These include:

  • The speed at which the horse is running
  • The type of track the horse is running on (dirt, turf, etc.)
  • The weight of the jockey
  • The experience level of the jockey
  • The health of the horse

Jockeys who are inexperienced or have a heavier weight are more likely to suffer an injury due to the increased forces they must endure during the race. Additionally, horses in poor health or running on a track with more challenging conditions can put the jockey at increased risk of injury.

Injury Prevention

There are several steps that jockeys can take to reduce their risk of injury. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying in shape and exercising regularly
  • Using proper riding technique
  • Wearing protective gear such as helmets and body armor
  • Being aware of their surroundings and the condition of the track

Common Injuries

The most common injuries that jockeys suffer include fractures, bruises, and sprains. Fractures occur when a bone is broken and can range from minor to severe depending on the nature of the injury. Bruises occur when soft tissue is damaged, often due to a fall or impact with the horse or track. Sprains occur when ligaments are stretched or torn due to a sudden movement.

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Serious Injuries

In addition to fractures, bruises, and sprains, jockeys can also suffer more severe injuries such as head trauma and spinal cord damage. Head trauma can occur if the jockey is thrown from the horse and hits their head on the ground or on a track obstacle. Spinal cord damage can occur if the jockey is thrown from the horse and lands in an awkward position.

Recovery Time

The time it takes to recover from an injury will depend on the severity of the injury and the treatment that is received. Minor injuries such as bruises and sprains can often be treated with rest and physical therapy and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal. Severe injuries such as fractures and head trauma can take up to several months to heal and may require surgery and rehabilitation.

Returning to the Track

Once a jockey has recovered from an injury, they must be cleared by a doctor before they can return to racing. The process for obtaining this clearance varies from state to state but typically involves submitting medical records, completing a physical exam, and meeting with a doctor. Once the jockey is cleared, they can resume riding in races.


Jockeys face a high risk of injury due to the extreme nature of their sport. The risk of injury can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, staying in shape, and using proper riding techniques. Common injuries such as fractures, bruises, and sprains can take up to several weeks to heal while more severe injuries can take up to several months. Once an injury has healed, the jockey must be cleared by a doctor before they can return to racing.

In conclusion, jockeys get hurt often due to the nature of their sport. While there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of injury, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk. Therefore, it is important for jockeys to take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety.