On The Bit With Britt – Marrying a Jockey

Hi I’m Britt, just a regular girl who is marrying into this crazy world of horse racing. Not ever being around horses or racing in my life, boy have I learned a lot. From not knowing what a furlong, paddock, or quarter pole was, people inside the industry, and especially my fiancée jockey Mitchell Murrill have helped teach me along the way. You can find me helping out the media team at Fair Grounds this 2019-20 meet.

“On the Bit with Britt” is a look into horse racing from a fan’s eyes. Nothing real technical, but focusing on the entertainment aspect of the sport. This will be an inside look at everything from fashion at the races, history of horse racing and Fair Grounds, new trends, and a whole lot of fun in-between. I am excited to take you on all my journey of learning what this lifestyle is all about. I hope to bring a light-hearted, fun outlook to this sport we all love.

Make sure to follow me on Instagram @Basicallyb__, @basicallybblog on Facebook, and follow my lifestyle blog BasicallyB. Also follow Fairgrounds on their social accounts @FGNola on Twitter and @Fairgroundsnola on Instagram.

Today’s post will give you a little bit better of an idea who I am, and why I am here. Like I mentioned above, I am marrying jockey Mitchell Murrill. We met at Arlington International Racecourse where I was in the marketing department.

I want to give you an inside look on what it is like to marry a jockey. People usually have a million and one questions when they find out my future husband’s career. I am still learning so much about his career and the horse racing industry as a whole, but figured I would pull together questions I get asked about being a jockey wife.

Do jockeys ride the same horse every race?

No. Jockeys can ride multiple races a day, multiple days a week. Some jockeys can ride up to 1,000 races in one year. Horses are not machines, they are animals so they need rest in-between their races. Horses on average race every 4-5 weeks. This gives them enough time to rest their muscles and practice for the next race. Imagine running a marathon, putting in everything that you have trained for. After a marathon you are probably pretty wiped out and want to rest. The same things go for horses. Yes thoroughbred horses are bred to run, so it is what they are born to do, but they still need rest in between their races.

Is it dangerous?

If you don’t think riding a 1,400 pound animal going 35 MPH while only wearing a helmet and a protective vest isn’t dangerous, then you are crazy. Horse racing is extremely dangerous for the jockeys. Every day I am so thankful that Mitchell makes it home in one piece and before every race I say a quick prayer to help keep him safe. Thousands of jockeys get injured, some ending their careers, some not too damaging, and some ending their life. There are charities like the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDFJ) to help injured jockeys. This sport is very dangerous for the athletes. You have to remember that these men and women are putting their lives at risk by getting on these animals every day. However, most jockeys love the adrenaline and love their career. It takes a little bit of a crazy person to become a jockey they say.

Are all jockeys short?

What some people do not understand is that there is no height requirement in order to be a jockey. For jockeys it is all about their weight. Jockeys can be however tall or small as long as they make the weight requirements. Jockeys weigh in before every race to make sure they meet the requirement. Then after each race, places 1-4 get weighed again. There is a certain weight for each race, which means that every jockey needs to weigh the same. If some are too light, they will add weights into their saddle. This is why they weigh the jockeys after the race, because back in the day it was easy to throw the extra weights that were added to your saddle to the side, so you are lighter than your competitors. By weighing before and after the race this eliminates this. Jockeys on average weigh from 112-120lbs.

Do jockeys ride at only one racetrack?

Jockeys can pretty much race wherever they can. Jockeys will get a racing license for each state. Whether that be in Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida, New York, etc. Most jockeys will travel throughout the year and ride different circuits. What some do not realize is that most jockeys move 1-3 times a year. Right now, we spend our time in New Orleans, Chicago, and Kentucky. That means packing up your life, moving across country, finding a place to live, and then shortly packing up again to hit the road. It can bring a lot of wear and tear to one’s life, especially the jockeys with families. Mitch and I are fortunate because we do not have children yet, but this effects jockeys with families for sure. Sometimes the family will stay put for the year in one location, while the jockey will travel. Meaning that they are separated from their kids, spouses, and families for part of the year.