Sammy Jo is no stranger to big dreams. The 24-year-old woman wants to become a jockey, so she’s doing everything in her power to make that happen. Riding top racehorses is a challenge for anyone, but it’s even more of a feat when you’re a woman. You see, women have to work incredibly hard to advance in the sport of racing, which is dominated by males.
But that doesn’t scare Sammy Jo. She’s willing to work hard and make sacrifices now so that she can enjoy a career as a top rider in a few years. Those sacrifices mean spending long hours in the saddle, often staying out until late at night and rising incredibly early in the morning. It also means a strict diet and an intense workout regime.
In addition to having to “break through” in a male-dominated sport, female jockeys face another obstacle: The sheer strength required of a jockey. Jockeys must ride horses weighing 1,200 pounds or more at full gallop, and they have to be able to support themselves in a crouched position for 3 minutes or more. Racehorses are taught to lean on the reins for support and balance, so a jockey must be capable of supporting that additional weight. It’s no small feat for any athlete.