FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
AG: I was born in Boise Idaho. I grew up in a very small town, Ririe, Idaho.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you a tomboy like a lot of the other jockeys I have interviewed?
AG: I wasn’t a girly girl at all, but I don’t know that I was a tomboy either. I didn’t like dolls or barbies. I actually grew up on pretending I was horse running around on my hands and knees.
FOTH: What did you want to be when you were growing up and what were some of the things you did for fun?
AG: I wanted to be jockey my whole life. When I was growing up I used to run my horse through the fields as fast as I could get him to go. My friend and I would set up our own little match races on the dirt roads behind our houses,
FOTH: What did you think of horse racing the 1st time you saw a live race and did you take an immediate liking to it or did that come later on in your life?
AG: The first time I saw live racing was when my own horse was in a fair race in I think 2011. It was exhilarating. I wanted to be the one riding my horse so badly.
FOTH: So what led to you deciding to work at a racetrack? Was it at this point in time your goal to be a jockey? What was your 1st job on a racetrack/farm and where was it?
AG: I fell into the race track. I was riding my own horse Vodka Lunch in an unprofessional stock saddle race going 3 furlongs when a trainer nearby saw my horse run and suggested we take him to the fairs and run him in a race. I got on my first gallop saddle that week and began galloping. I knew I wanted to race ride, but I was a new mom and not really in a position to start, and in my head I didn’t see it as a realistic possibility. I continued to exercise ride off and on in the summers until 2015, when I became licensed to race ride.
FOTH: So the 1st time you got up on a horse to breeze/exercise it, did it feel natural or did it take a little bit of getting used to at first?
AG: It came to me completely naturally. The first horse I breezed in an exercise saddle propped and whirled into the arena as we went by, and with my irons short I stayed on the horse, corrected him, and finished the work.
FOTH: What was some of the advice you got along the way at this time?
AG: I got very little advice or help in the early stages of my riding. It wasn’t until I got to Turf Paradise and jockey Isaias Enriquez took me under his wing that I received any true education about riding. Prior to his teaching me I was basically self-taught.
FOTH: So how long did you gallop/breeze/exercise horses before you got your jockey license?
AG: Three years
FOTH: I know some places are different, so take me through the last few steps you had to go through to get your jockey license?
AG: The years of exercise riding and breaking horses from the gates prior to going before the stewards was preparation to become licensed. Once I applied for a license I had to demonstrate to the racing stewards that I was a capable race rider by participating in a schooling race. I did this on a 2 year old quarter horse and on a 3 year old quarter horse in Pocatello, Idaho in May of 2015.
FOTH: Looking back was being a jockey what you thought it was going to be and if not what are some of the things that have been different and what was the hardest thing about becoming one?
AG: Before beginning this journey I knew it would be difficult and competitive, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be. I didn’t realize how thick skinned I would have to become, and I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally and psychologically taxing it would be. I also wasn’t aware of how physically fit riders have to be. We are literally athletes, while the public doesn’t always see us that way.
FOTH: Now you started riding in 2015. Tell me about your 1st race. Where was it? Were you nervous pulling your car into the jockey’s lot for the 1st time? What were your nerves like in the jockey’s room before the race and going out into the paddock?
AG: My first race was on a quarter horse filly for a trainer Paul Greene (no relation but a great friend). I was so nervous before the race that I literally went to the wash room and was sick. But I pulled it together, let no one see my nerves, rode my race, and picked up two more mounts on the card that day, another quarter horse and an appaloosa. I think I ran a third, fourth, and fifth that day. The next weekend I won my first race on a Quarter horse named ‘She Pays Dividends’ for trainer Travis Lusk, who assisted me in getting my license and is one of my best friends. Following that race I rode my first TB.
FOTH: So the actual race, what do you remember about it? When the race was over and you were in the jock’s room what was going through your mind?
AG: I remember very little of the race. The gates opened and the quarter horses leave so fast that as a new rider your brain can hardly keep up. I do remember that once my brain caught up the other horses were kicking dirt in my face because my filly only had about 150 yards of run in her!
FOTH: Now what did your parents think about you being a jockey? Have they come out to see you ride over the past years of you being one?
AG: My family was initially unsupportive of my decision to become a jockey. In fact my family was unsupportive of my being involved with horses at all, and being a rider was beyond unacceptable. However, after my first summer of riding they eventually came around and now follow all my races. My mom and one of my sisters are literally my biggest fans. My sis never misses a race; she watches them all from her phone back in Idaho.
FOTH: Now we will move onto your 1st win. Did it come to a surprise to you at all? Was it on like a 20-1 or more or like a 8-1 shot? Did you win by a short amount or did you win by several lengths? What was the feeling like for you jogging the horse back to the winner’s circle for the first time?
AG: My first win was my fourth race. It was for trainer, and great friend, Travis Lusk. The mare’s name is ‘She Pays Dividends’. I don’t recall her odds, but we won by a half-length and I believe the race was 350 yards… but I could be wrong about the distance. I was just as nervous in this race as I was my first races. This mare in particular went in a rig, which prevents horses from flipping in the gate. She also had a ton of power leaving the gates, and I was limited at this point in gate experience, and honestly was afraid she’d leave me in the gates! Somehow though leaving the gates came so natural to me, and when she broke like a freight train I went right with her. I knew I won the race, but it was almost surreal to me. I didn’t even know what to do or where the winners circle was!
FOTH: Now what track was your 1st win at? Did the jockey’s get you good after the race and did you know it was coming?
AG: Fortunately, the jockeys left me alone until after my next race, which was my first thoroughbred mount, Sand Hill Jill (on which I ran 2nd). I did a good job of dodging the other jocks until after the next race. I was aware of the sort of hazing that happens to us when we break our maiden, but I was very fortunate to have a great group of riders in the colony. They poured ice water over my head twice and pinned me down to dump black paint all over me head to toe! Then had me paint my initials and date of first win on the floor in the jocks room.
FOTH: Now you are currently riding at Louisiana Downs. Tell me a bit about the track. Do they get good crowds for live racing at all?
AG: This track is amazing. I love the people here, the facilities, and the overall environment. The crowd varies, some days we have great attendance and others not so much. The promotional activities like the exotic animal races or the dog races seem to really bring in a crowd.
FOTH: Take me through what you do on a typical race day?
AG: I get up at 5 am, go to the track and take my workers and gallops. Track closes at 10 and I am usually on horses until the track closes. Then I have a bit of time to go home and relax before being back in the jocks room at 2. Races start at 3:15 so I have to be in the room a bit early to dress and get focused.
FOTH: What are some things you like to do when you are not doing horse related things? Do you follow any other sports at all?
AG: When I have my kids with me I spend all my spare time with them. I don’t really do much that is not horse related. Even when I am back in Idaho, if I have a day off I pleasure ride with my best friend. When my kids are with me I like to keep them around the horses.
FOTH: So far what tracks have you rode at and is there any tracks you would like to ride at one day?
AG: Pocatello Downs
Elko and Ely Nevada
I would love to ride at the Fairgrounds, and of course I’d love to ride at Churchill Downs. To reach a level where I could compete at that track would be a dream come true.
FOTH: So far you think you have been treated pretty fairly as a jockey?
AG: While it is difficult to compete against the men in the sport, yes I think I have been treated fairly. Some people still believe that the male riders are better or stronger than the female riders. However, many trainers, owners, and officials in the business have seen my ability to compete and no longer see me as less talented than the guys. I have been given so many great opportunities to ride great horses and I intend to keep advancing and learning.
FOTH: Do you have any goals for yourself?
AG: My only goal in this sport is to become the best that I possibly can and to never stop improving. “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” W. Clement Stone.
FOTH: If you were not riding races what do you think you would be doing with yourself these days?
AG: If I were not race riding I would be working as a veterinary assistant, hopefully in an equine specialist hospital.
FOTH: Are there many other female riders down based at where you are at?
AG: At Louisiana Downs there are a small handful of female riders. I am the only one who is here every day, but a few other female rider’s ship in and ride.
FOTH: Now since you have rode in thoroughbred and quarter horses races, what is the biggest difference?
AG: A different race mentally.
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey what would you tell her?
AG: Start slowly. Absolutely do not rush to the races. You’ll make a much more successful career if you start out galloping and breezing for several years. Run some shooting races. Lots of them. Because when you jump into it head first like I did the struggle is so, so much harder. Be polished before you ever ride your first race. And absolutely never let the fact that you’re a woman be a crutch.
FOTH: Do you think when you retire from riding that you will stay in the horse racing industry somehow?
AG: As long as I am capable, I will always be on the back of a horse. I will exercise ride until I can’t do it anymore. I love being in the barns. I used to work as a stall hand and exercise rider and would be perfectly happy doing that again when I decide I am done race riding. But that won’t be any time soon!
FOTH: Aubrie I am out of questions. Thumbs up for the interview and anything else you would like to say the floor is yours.
AG: Thanks Chris for letting me be part of your website.
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