When I turned 16 I was lucky enough to travel to England on my own for the first time and gain experience riding out for a jump trainer over there. I’m lucky enough to have dual citizenship so ever since then I go back and forth all of the time. When I graduated from high school I took a year off and moved to England to ride out for many different trainers. I knew the jump racing was similar to how it is over here, but I was curious to learn more about it.
When I first went over I rode for a jump trainer named Henry Daly. Staying with them, I quickly became a part of their family and team. I really enjoyed it there. Many of the jump and flat yards are run similarly in England. The lads that ride out each look after about four horses. They groom them mornings and afternoons, and then go racing with them. I found that everyone had their place and it was very organized. I think it’s very similar to how some training barns are run over here too. The only difference is, is that the grooms here don’t usually ride as well. This gives the riders more time to ride more horses. In England the usual number of horses that a lad would ride in a morning is around four, unless they’re a jockey schooling for a trainer then they would get on many. In America a rider would usually get on about six horses in a morning. I found it is definitely easier to stay fit for riding races when you are riding out in America whether its with a jump or flat trainer.
When I went back to England for my gap year I got to ride out for many more trainers. The first half of the year I was with George Baker who mostly trains on the flat. The second half of the year I rode out for a well known jump trainer, Oliver Sherwood. I was also lucky enough to ride out some for other trainers such as Alan King, Nicky Henderson, and Sir Michael Stoute. I love learning about the different routines of trainers. That fascinates me in America as well. I’ve ridden out for many jump trainers as well as flat over here and it’s amazing to see that even though everyone is aiming for the same goals, everyone has their own ways of getting there. To me, its fun to watch and learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s also nice to learn what some barns have in common and what they might do differently.
When it comes to training the horses, I found that the main difference was that in England they do mostly interval training up hills. They gallop up the hill, walk back down, go up again and so on. I really enjoyed this, but from the point of view of a jockey it was a bit frustrating for staying fit. Over here in America, a lot of the jumpers are trained up hills as well. They also get to train on the tracks some too. Many of the jump jockeys over here will mainly ride out for a flat trainer so that they can gallop on the track all morning and get fit and then after the mornings they will then go and school horses for a jump trainer. The jockeys in England are obviously very fit too, but that requires them putting much more time in the gym.
When it comes to jockeys in England, the system is a bit different to the American jump jockeys. Over there the professionals and amateurs are pretty separate. Unlike in America, Professionals are not allowed to ride in point to points, only amateurs. In England they also have conditional jockeys, they are very similar to the apprentice jockeys on the flat. It is basically like they are professionals in training and they get paid, unlike the amateur riders. In America over jumps you are simply either an amateur or professional. I think the main reason professionals over here are allowed to ride in point to points is because there really aren’t very many amateur riders over here. There are, however, races that are strictly for amateur riders at both the point to point and sanctioned jump meets. In England, amateur riders are welcome to ride with the professionals, as are the amateurs over here. My favorite races were actually races which included the professional jockeys. I loved learning from them and seeing how they handled the courses and fences. The fences are also different in England then they are over here. Both countries have hurdles, but they are very different. The American hurdles are green and round with large plastic brush coming out the tops of them. In England, hurdles are orange panels with sticks in them and they fall over very easily. The hurdles over here remind me of the fences in England, except the fences in England are bigger and aren’t round. They are usually all natural as well. We also have timber racing in America, which I’m pretty sure everyone in racing in England has heard stories about. Timber racing is basically just like jumping a four board fence. My favorite racing is timber racing. It’s slower and the races are longer. The two pictures are of me schooling a horse in England over a hurdle fence and then jumping the last in a timber race. Clearly the jumps are very different, but it’s still just as fun.
Some of my favorite things I learned about when I was in England were the traditions. In America, the racing community has traditions too, so I was excited to see if they were the same or any different in England. Over here if you have a winner, the jockey buys donuts or sometimes bagels for the whole barn as a thank you. If you fall off over here riding out, then you would have to bring donuts in the next day to work. In England there weren’t many traditions for falling off or jockey’s getting the yard donuts. Some yards would have a silly hat that someone would have to wear riding out for the rest of the day if they had fallen off. I think my favorite tradition over there was having a cooked breakfast. Usually after the first or second horse every one would take at least a half an hour break and have a cup of tea and sometimes a cooked breakfast. It was very relaxing and it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and catch up on the latest gossip.
The racing in both of the countries fascinates me and I’m eager to learn more and experience more. I can’t wait to be able to be back in England and continue to learn about the racing and culture over there, because I love it over there just as much as I love the racing over here. Both are different, but still the same in many ways.