So, you have a really fast pony and want to race? That’s great, but make sure your really fast pony (or horse) is qualified first! Typically, junior and young rider mounts must be a minimum of 5 years old and sometimes the rules even say mounts are not to have started in a sanctioned race in the last x months. Qualifications like these were created keeping the safety of rider, mount, and those around them as safe as possible. Rider and mount may also be required to gallop or school with company before a race organizer and show that they are both behaved and in control.
Okay, so you have checked all those boxes, now what? Time to get the jockey pants and the teanie saddle, silks, goggles and all that jazz, right? Actually, all you really need is your regular riding gear, a yoke or neckstrap, overgirth, a current ASTM approved helmet and a protect vest.
Where do you get all that stuff? You should always have your own helmet, but everything else you could most likely borrow for the first go round to make sure you like racing before you commit to investing in the full kit. Oh yes, and I almost forgot! Silks! There are several places you can have custom silks made, but a consignment tack store, or ebay are great resources until you have enough babysitting money to purchase your own. Or, you can always use a colorful windbreaker or compression shirt. There is no rule saying you have to have silks.
How do you use all of this “stuff” that you just borrowed and how do you learn about racing? Aligning yourself with a professional jump trainer is one great way to start learning the ropes. Who doesn’t love free labor, right? Becoming a working student at a steeplechase barn is a great way to get going. You’ll spend mot of your time on the ground scrubbing water buckets, but you will learn tons about the sport! Keep your eyes and ears open and make every moment a learning opportunity.
Getting your mount out foxhunting is a great way to see how she/he will be in a group running and jumping. If you live in the mid-Atlantic area, why not attend a clinic! You can check out the nationalsteeplechasefoundation.org or usponyracing.com for educational opportunities for junior and young riders. There are two clinics coming up in Maryland. The first is a Steeplechase 101 Clinic on March 6th in Monkton, MD. Instructors will be accomplished amateur and professional jockeys. This clinic is open to anyone who is comfortable schooling cross-country. The clinic costs about $40 bucks if you register in advance and it is quite lengthy. Students will have mounted and unmounted sessions. Young riders are highly encouraged to attend this clinic. There is also a clinic specifically for juniors and young riders on Sunday, March 13th in Brookeville, MD. Talks are in the works for a clinic hear Lexington, KY in early April, so stay tuned and keep checking our calendar!
At a clinic, you should expect to learn everything from the standard race day procedure, to race course navigation, to how to prepare your mount for the races. If you are interested in racing this spring, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help connect you with a resource in your area! Stay tuned for our next blog…