I have a ritual, that every time the clock hits a repetitive sequence of numbers, I kiss my thumb, press it against the clock and close my eyes. I have done this for as long as I can remember. It was wishing time, and I would generally wish the same thing, every time. Now, if you tell your wishes, they never come true… but the truth is that I no longer wish. I use this moment in time to reflect on the gratitude and the appreciation I have for my life.
This job, this profession as a jockey, is so complex and challenging in thousands of ways, that it is easy to lose sight of what is good, besides winning. The lifestyle of nomad style moving, watching your diet, exercising for necessity, winning, losing, the hiring and firing… its all a part of the game. A game I love dearly.
I recently had a trainer fire me because he thought I did not try on his horse. I was gutted, I was depressed, I was angry, and most off I was hurt. There was no greater insult that could have been handed to me. I try 110% every time I ride, run, bike, compete. Not to mention that this is my living!
Jockeys paychecks come from a flat rate fee if you finish less than third place, above third is a percentage of the winnings of the horse. You ride to win, then you ride to make the most amount of money for the horse, trainer, owner and yourself. We, owners, trainers, riders, all are trying to make a living, I will ride just as hard for third or fourth as I will for a win.
Jockeys are also the first ones to get fired. The trainer, the owner, the horse are constant, the jockeys are the easiest thing to change, and this happens often. It can shake you to your core, it can make you question your ability. Jockeys must be mentally, physically and spiritually strong.
I still turn to the repetitive digits on the clock and kiss my thumb, close my eyes and reflect on the strength and faith in me. I give gratitude to where I am, who I am and the opportunities around me. I say thank you for keeping the horses and jockeys safe and the support systems that surround me. I have found myself letting go of fighting, letting go of the struggle of wanting more and proving myself to people, seeking there approval.
I know I am a competitor, I know I put everything into a race. I am proud of the person I am.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013