Jockeys tend to stick out in the sports world due to the bright and colourful clothing that they wear while racing, and sometimes they even wear slightly transparent clothing – but this isn’t only a fashion statement, it also has a number of practical reasons.
Jockeys actually have to wear a number of different items before they can mount up and head out the gates. For those that are interested in becoming a jockey, or are just fascinated by what they were, this is the get-up of almost all jockeys around the world.
Also known as the skullcap, this is compulsory when going out on the tracks, providing extremely important protection to the jockey in case of a fall. They can cost up to $900 per helmet, and are almost always retired after an accident. The silks or colours of that team are always worn over the helmet.
The colours of the uniforms that jockeys wear are actually the registered colours of the owner or the trainer of the horse that the jockey is riding. Along with the bridle and the reins, they are the only thing that a jockey doesn’t own directly, and usually belong to either the trainer or owner. They will also always bring several sets of silks to a race day if they have more than once horse racing, especially if it looks like there’s going to be rain, which usually tends to be a day that many prefer to stay inside and play bingo for money.
Goggles provide protection to the eyes of the jockey as they race down the course, which includes both bugs and random bits of gravel and mud that are kicked up by the horses in front of them. Like the helmet, goggles are mandatory for all jockeys to wear before riding.
Most jockeys have a few pairs of racing breeches that come in different weights, as the weight of a set of breeches can be a deciding factor when racing. As the idea of a jockey is to be as light as possible, every single gram counts, and some breeches can weight as little as 50 grams in total.
Vests have been compulsory since 1998, and provide padding that extends from the best to the belly button, and is designed to prevent the jockey from breaking ribs and injuring organs during a fall or accident.
A skivvy is a microfiber or mesh piece of clothing that is worn underneath the silks. They can range from extremely lightweight for race days, to much heavier during track-work. They come both in sleeveless and long sleeve.
No jockey is complete without a set of knee-high leather riding boots, although lighter options are sometimes used for options. These zip-up racing boots prevent the jockey from chaffing while riding, avoiding any skin damage or even friction burns.
Gloves are not mandatory for jockeys to wear, although some prefer to ride them. Many jockeys will wear gloves when the weather is bad in order to keep their grip on the reins.