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Why Do Jockeys Ride with short stirrups and another question about bits

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  • Why Do Jockeys Ride with short stirrups and another question about bits

    I was wondering if somebody could tell me why jockies sit so high on the horse when they are racing? What is the physics behind this if any? Or is it just tradition? (I heard that in 1880 something there was a hot jockey who started the trend of riding with short stirrups).

    Also does anybody know of horses that have raced or do race now without a bit and use a hackamore instead?

    Thanks

    Paul N. Sidio
    Spokane MO

  • #2
    The perching position is largely assumed for balance. A jock needs that balance to cope with any potential changes of momentum and the ability to dismount if there is a spill.

    Comment


    • #3
      Leverage also plays a role... it's much easier to pull a horse up with your irons jacked up... the quarter horse jocks take it to an even "higher" level. Not to mention the thrust you can get with your entire body when pushing a horse on... with your weight in the balls of your feet.

      As far as the bitless bridles... they were tried briefly here in Maryland in the a.m. only... after two horses ran through the outside fence they were banned.

      Comment


      • #4
        They seem to ride longer in Europe, any reason?
        "To my Gub... Godspeed my friend, till we meet again." 1996-2007.
        Runway (Sasha) 2009 Zweibrucker filly by Redwine.

        "Silence is golden...and duct tape is silver."

        Comment


        • #5
          The reason for short stirrups is effectiveness. It takes weight of the horse's back and allows better freedom of motion in the horse's body and allows for a more aero dynamic ride.
          Tod Sloan is generally credited with being the progenitor of the style in the late 1800's. He was very successful, and others adopted his style of riding. He moved to England to ride for a few years and was initially ridiculed for his tyle of riding, the newspapers of the day referred to him as "a monkey on a stick". He of course had the last laugh as won all before him and English jockeys adopted his style of riding.

          Most Euro jockeys these days ride just as short as their US counterparts. If some ride a hole or two longer it's because they are galloping up and down hills on cambered courses and often over longer distances where the pace means they need to be more upright in the early part of the race.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Short Stirrups/perching

            RE: "The reason for short stirrups is effectiveness. It takes weight of the horse's back and allows better freedom of motion in the horse's body and allows for a more aero dynamic ride."

            I do ride (endurance 50 and 100 mile rides), which is what made me wonder about this. My experience from owning TB's in the past is that much is done at the track... because that is how they have done it for years.

            From a balance standpoint and an aerodynamic standpoit it doesn't seem to make sense to perch up so high. You might try this experiment.. ( Disclosure!! This experiment should be tried 100% at your own risk.) Get on a motorcycle. Ride a lap around the block normally with your feet down low on the foot pegs. Now try another lap while standing up with your feet on top of the seat and crouching as low as you can over the handlebars. How did it go? Better aerodynamics? Better balance? Faster or slower? Traffic ticket? (If you crashed, don't call me)

            To me the higher center of gravity would make a horse tend to drift wide in a turn and cause more stress in the turns on ankles and knees. Take your child or grandchild, or borrow a neighbors kid. Run around an oval in the front yard with the kid sitting piggy back on your shoulders with their legs hanging down. Then do a lap (again at your own risk;-) with the kid standing with their feet on your shoulders and them bending forward and low hanging on to your head for balance. Did you feel the difference in your kness? As an experienced Father and Grandpa with many years and miles of piggyback experience, my thoughts are that this makes a huge difference. It is about center of gravity. It is why Indy and NASCAR vehicles are built low to the ground intead of being raised up like monster trucks.

            While jockies are probably the best atheletes on the planet, it looks they often have to help keep their balance by pulling on the reins. This seems like it would alter the horses natural rhthym and action. Kind of like trying to run with your arms taped to your sides and your head in a neck brace.

            I would love to see a wind tunnel test of somebody riding perched high and also lower. It might be interesting.

            Paul N. Sidio
            Spokane MO

            Comment


            • #7
              The center of gravity on a galloping horse is further forward than on a horse trotting along or even cantering.

              by shortening the stirrups, the jockey is able to be further forward over the horse's shoulder, moving their center of gravity closer to the horse's center of gravity. Their seat is not banging up and down on the horse's back - their weight is in the stirrups, staying more consistent on the horse's back through the weight transferred to the tree of the saddle. When they tuck down, they reduce wind drag. They loose their leg as much of an aid - that is why the whip is so important when a horse starts to lug out.

              Exercise riders, who are often heavier than the jocks, do not use such an extreme position. Some ride with quite long stirrups, particularly if they are on a young, green horse who might add some extracurricular moves.

              Eventers ride with quite a short stirrup, but not so extreme - they want to keep their seat out of the saddle while galloping over what may be as much as ten minutes, but they need their legs too.

              Forget the motorcycle, get out on an eventing course at a good gallop, and you will soon find out why.

              I wouldn't ride endurance with a short stirrup unless you have bionic knees, though!
              Publisher, http://www.endurance-101.com
              Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by psidio View Post
                RE: "The reason for short stirrups is effectiveness. It takes weight of the horse's back and allows better freedom of motion in the horse's body and allows for a more aero dynamic ride."

                I do ride (endurance 50 and 100 mile rides), which is what made me wonder about this. My experience from owning TB's in the past is that much is done at the track... because that is how they have done it for years.

                From a balance standpoint and an aerodynamic standpoit it doesn't seem to make sense to perch up so high. You might try this experiment.. ( Disclosure!! This experiment should be tried 100% at your own risk.) Get on a motorcycle. Ride a lap around the block normally with your feet down low on the foot pegs. Now try another lap while standing up with your feet on top of the seat and crouching as low as you can over the handlebars. How did it go? Better aerodynamics? Better balance? Faster or slower? Traffic ticket? (If you crashed, don't call me)

                To me the higher center of gravity would make a horse tend to drift wide in a turn and cause more stress in the turns on ankles and knees. Take your child or grandchild, or borrow a neighbors kid. Run around an oval in the front yard with the kid sitting piggy back on your shoulders with their legs hanging down. Then do a lap (again at your own risk;-) with the kid standing with their feet on your shoulders and them bending forward and low hanging on to your head for balance. Did you feel the difference in your kness? As an experienced Father and Grandpa with many years and miles of piggyback experience, my thoughts are that this makes a huge difference. It is about center of gravity. It is why Indy and NASCAR vehicles are built low to the ground intead of being raised up like monster trucks.

                While jockies are probably the best atheletes on the planet, it looks they often have to help keep their balance by pulling on the reins. This seems like it would alter the horses natural rhthym and action. Kind of like trying to run with your arms taped to your sides and your head in a neck brace.

                I would love to see a wind tunnel test of somebody riding perched high and also lower. It might be interesting.

                Paul N. Sidio
                Spokane MO
                Forget the motorbike.
                Here's a simple experiment for you. Get a racehorse. Hop on it. Gallop it flat out (and I mean flat out) with stirrups at varying lengths.
                See for yourself.

                The modern breed of Jump Jockeys ride with super short stirrups also, not because "that is how they have done it for years" (they have traditionally ridden with long stirrups), but because they find it a more effective way to ride.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Uh, the riders are not 'balancing' on the reins. They are balancing themselves with, sometimnes (sometimes not) a direct contact of varying strength depending on the situation. Even if hte lines 'look' straight, even if a rider is standing up skiing, there might be, literally, just a pound or less of 'pressure' to the bit. Or, of course, they could be waterskiing using all their weight and might to keep said horse straight or controlled, but just as often the riders merely use hte upright galloping position (when exercising) to rest. They are not (typically) balancing on the mouth. Obviously some riders are not as good, and they do hang on the reins, but not all.
                  Which is why not many (any?) use those bitless bridles, even on a soft mouthed horse. Not enough control for the ocassional big time situation that requires absolute control. You see those things so rarely. I once galloped a horse in one (the trainer insisted) and I would never, ever, ever use one again. Total lack of control. To someone who has never galloped a racehorse, esp. on the racetrack, they just don't understand the gravity of the situation.
                  Far better to get an educated rider with good hands if being soft on your horses mouth is the intent.
                  * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by psidio View Post
                    It is about center of gravity. It is why Indy and NASCAR vehicles are built low to the ground intead of being raised up like monster trucks.
                    Somewhat off the mark.
                    Horses do not have boundary layers and ground effects - nor the speed to sustain them!
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by monicabee View Post
                      The center of gravity on a galloping horse is further forward than on a horse trotting along or even cantering.

                      by shortening the stirrups, the jockey is able to be further forward over the horse's shoulder, moving their center of gravity closer to the horse's center of gravity.
                      Spot on correct.

                      Horses aren't built like motorcycles or cars nor do they move like them; comparing them is an apple/orange situation.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by psidio View Post
                        I would love to see a wind tunnel test of somebody riding perched high and also lower. It might be interesting.
                        I'll admit it would be interesting to see what the drag is for a horse and rider. Not that you would want a real horse for the test but a stand in model that simulates the movement, etc.

                        Who knows, perhaps some minor equipment adjustments could glean some advantages with slicing the wind if a horse prefers to go to the lead.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Glimmerglass View Post
                          I'll admit it would be interesting to see what the drag is for a horse and rider. Not that you would want a real horse for the test but a stand in model that simulates the movement, etc.

                          Who knows, perhaps some minor equipment adjustments could glean some advantages with slicing the wind if a horse prefers to go to the lead.
                          Ok, the only think I could think of when I read this was jockeys with finned helmets. I thought I'd share the hilarious image.
                          "I loved you all, but Horse Racing was my first love" -Vic Stauffer

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Coral View Post
                            Ok, the only think I could think of when I read this was jockeys with finned helmets. I thought I'd share the hilarious image.
                            Yay! Thanks for sharing!

                            Not quite as hilarious, but I was thinking of those weird cycling time trial helmets.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well someone already beat us to the punch of sorts

                              United States Patent 4575996 "Horse wind and mud deflector"

                              A wind and mud deflector mounts by a strap arrangement to the chest and shoulder area of a race horse to render the chest area more aerodynamic and to deflect mud or debris from the chest and shoulder areas. The deflector is formed of a relatively thin flexible sheet material including a wedge or pointed forward section leading to side panels positionable on opposite sides of the horse. The panels include a neck recess and shoulder recesses for loosely receiving the neck and forward shoulder areas of the horse. The strap assembly is used to secure the deflector to the horse and hold the deflector such that the neck and shoulder recesses remain properly positioned. A pad is provided about peripheral edges of the deflector to avoid chafing.
                              I'm thinking he was aerodynamic but a wee bit slow ...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Glimmerglass View Post
                                Well someone already beat us to the punch of sorts

                                United States Patent 4575996 "Horse wind and mud deflector"



                                I'm thinking he was aerodynamic but a wee bit slow ...
                                On the plus side, though, he's ready for battle!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  OP can always ask the NA Racing Academy, but don't mention the motorcycle example posted earlier. Here's one class:

                                  Racehorse Riding Skills I
                                  Presents and requires daily practice of proper rider position at walk, trot, canter, on turn and in straights. Includes discussion and applications of center of gravity of horse, center of gravity of rider and center of gravity of the combination of horse and rider. http://nara.kctcs.edu/programDisplay_section_3.cfm


                                  Chris McCarron, Chairman & Executive Director, started this academy and he'll probably help you out. Info on how to contact: http://nara.kctcs.edu/contactDisplay.cfm

                                  Paul, on Chris McCarron (really, don't bring up the motorcycle) : he won two Kentucky Derbys with Alysheba and Go for Gin; five Breeders' Cup Classics; two Preakness Stakes; was the nation's leading jockey on six occasions; won two Eclipse Awards among other awards. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1989 and retired in 2002.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    United States Patent 4575996 "Horse wind and mud deflector"

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      At the track, we called the hold on the reins at times a fifth foot.

                                      You were not only rating a horse but also helping it with it's balance at the end of the strides.
                                      Didn't take much hold, just the right hold at the right time, a little bit of a feel like picking a horse up that is stumbling, but much, much subtler.

                                      Don't know if they still call that aid that.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        "Horse wind and mud deflector"
                                        Taken out of context without the patent description, now that sounds like something the a driver of a harness horse might appreciate, being in the firing line of horse wind and all.

                                        Comment

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