Jockeys have one of the most dangerous professions in the world — and their careers can be over in a matter of seconds if the worst should happen. We’re honoring the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund in today’s Standing Ovation.
Jockeying, like any other form of riding, looks effortless when performed well. However, even more than other disciplines, riding racehorses presents great dangers to the jockey: they’re balanced at 40 mph over the backs of constantly-moving racehorses who are prone to sudden acceleration or deceleration as well as shifts in direction. Wrecks happen when horses clip heels or bump each other, or even simply trip and fall. Even with safety equipment including helmets and vests, jockeys suffer concussions, broken bones, paralysis and even death on the job. Concussions and broken bones can heal and let a jockey eventually return to work, but career-ending injuries are equally common, and a jockey can suddenly find himself permanently out of work with a mountain of medical bills.
The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund was incorporated in 2006 by a combined force of jockeys, trainers, horsemen and other interested and invested parties who wished to provide financial support to jockeys needing it the most. As well as providing monetary assistance to permanently disabled jockeys, the PDJF works with the racing industry and medical research groups to improve track safety for both the riders and horses.
Some of the recipients of assistance from the PDJF include jockeys in their first year of racing all the way to seasoned veterans on the track for decades: disaster can strike anyone at any time, leaving them wheelchair-bound or totally dependent on others for the rest of their lives. The PDJF provides a bright light in what could otherwise be tragic stories, helping disabled jockeys make the most of their altered lives.
Ron Turcotte, best known for piloting Secretariat to Triple Crown success, was paralyzed in a track accident just five years later. He is an outspoken supporter of the PDJF, using his star power to raise awareness of the plight of the permanently disabled jockey.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.