Jennifer Reid is a jockey that mostly rides in Canada, but has made the trip to the US and rode at Turf Paradise. Well here is her story:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
JR: I was born in Edmonton, AB Canada. I grew up from kindergarten to grade six in Three hills AB, and then moved to Melfort SK to finish grade seven through twelve.
FOTH: Did you come from a big or small family and what sort of girl were you when you were growing up?
JR: I have a sister and two brothers. I always active, always outside playing with my horses and dogs.
FOTH: What did you want to be when you were growing and did you have any love for horses as a young girl?
JR: I wanted to be a horse trainer when I was growing up. I started riding when I was six years old, competing in gymkhanas and barrel racing.
FOTH: Now at what point in your life did horses or horse racing start to become part of your life and do you remember seeing your first live horse race and what was it like for you?
JR: Horses have always been in my life. Everyday evokes around horses for me. I remember watching the Triple Crown and being amazed at the jockey’s ability to make their horse run from a little push on the neck or a tap with a whip.
FOTH: Now did you work on any racetrack prior to becoming a jockey like being a hot walker, groom or ex-rider?
JR: I took a course at Olds College called the Exercise Rider and Jockey program. I had zero horse racing experience before then. They taught us how to gallop race horses, groom them, taught us about legs and in general the racetrack.
FOTH: At one point did the idea of becoming a jockey start to enter into your mind? Did you have a lot of support and encouragement from people around you and what did you parents think when you told them you wanted to become a jockey?
JR: Before I took that course as Olds College, I had applied for the Horsemanship Major in the Western Discipline but was put on the wait list so I saw this Exercise Rider and Jockey Program and thought "why not try this" and got into school and then eventually started riding. Everyone that I around was very supportive and my mom and family to this day still watch me race and thinks it’s exciting as the first time.
FOTH: What was it like getting up on a horse for the 1st time? Were you nervous or did it feel natural for you? Did anybody help teach you how to ride and looking back now do you feel that made you a better rider and what were some of things you were taught and who taught you?
JR: The first time I got up into two-point was a little scary, seeing the ground rush by you. It was really natural and easy for me to learn how to gallop. Learning to race ride is a lot more harder than a person thinks. Real Simard is an awesome teacher. He was an instructor at the college for this course. The way he explained everything made it seem all so easy. Everything takes time, patience and a lot of practice.
FOTH: What was the feeling like when you finally got your actual jockey license in your hand and how long did it take you from when you wanted to become one to actually becoming a jockey?
JR: Exciting and nervous all at once. I started soon after that.
FOTH: Tell me about your first race. What track was it at and what was it like being your jockey silks for the first time and were you nervous at all? Where did you finish in the race?
JR: My first race was at Northlands Park on September 16, 2009. I was very nervous, and everything was so slippery. I finished 4th.
FOTH: Tell me about your first win. What track was that at and what was the horse’s name? Did you win by a lot of was it in a photo and what was it like jogging the horse back to the winner’s circle and getting your picture taken?
JR: My first win was in Lethbridge Ab, at Whoop Up Downs ( bush track) on Leos County Cat for Tom Rycroft. It was awesome, in disbelief that I had won it. I know I had a huge smile on my face.
FOTH: After the race, did the jockey’s get you good and what did they get you with?
JR: A pale of cold, cold water was thrown on me.
FOTH: What tracks have you rode at so far in your career? I’ve ridden at Whoop Up Downs, Grand Prairie bush track (can't remember the name of it), Northlands Park, Assiniboia Downs, Marquis Downs, Woodbine, Fort Erie, and Turf Paradise.
FOTH: Now I know you are riding at Assiniboia Downs currently. Is there any other female riders there and for those who have never been there was it the track like?
JR: Currently I’m the only female rider here so far but there is talk of a couple more coming here to ride. Assiniboia Downs is a 6.5 sand track. There are two tracks the main, which is 6.5 and we race on it. Then there is a training track that is roughly half a mile. We also have a kitchen, where owners and trainers can drink some coffee and watch their horses gallop. Then there are numbers barns spread out around the backside.
FOTH: Take me through what you do in a typical day?
JR: I was riding all winter so I would get up early about 5:30am, eat a small breakfast then head to the track. I would arrive at the track about 6:30, once I had my gear on, helmet and flak jacket, I’d call or text my agent and ask if I had horses lined up to breeze. Usually we discussed how busy and which barns to go to. Then I biked around the backside either heading to a barn and trainer to breeze a horse or to stop in and say hello the trainer and crew. I would do that for a few hours, and then meet up with my agent and we would discuss how the morning had gone. Then I would head home, for either a quick nap and shower. Then drive back to the track to the jocks since it was day racing in Turf Paradise. Then get ready for races.
FOTH: What do you like to do when you are not doing horse related stuff?
JR: I read a lot books, play video games on the x box, nap whenever I get a chance, hang out with friends.
FOTH: Do you feel you have a certain riding style?
JR: I’ve become a patient rider. I love nailing them at the wire for the win. :)
FOTH: How long would you like to ride for and do you have any personal goals you would like to achieve?
JR: I would like to ride for as long I can, as long as my mind and body are willing to do it. I just want to be a good rider, successful at my career.
FOTH: Have you ever ridden in the US and if you haven’t would you like to ride there one day?
JR: I rode in Phoenix, AZ at Turf Paradise. It was my first season there, win 27 races. Absolutely loved it! Can’t wait to go back.
FOTH: Is there a lot of racetracks up in Canada and is there any sports that you follow at all?
JR: There is at least one racetrack in every province, either "A" or "B" tracks. I follow Northlands Park and Woodbine.
FOTH: Do you think being a female jockey that you have to work that much harder than your male counterparts and do you think you have been treated pretty fairly so far in your career?
JR: As a female in any career you have so much more to prove, that you’re able to do it better than the males. So being in a male dominated sport just makes you work a little harder, push for a little more, demand more of yourself than maybe the guys would. A 100% isn't good enough, only 110% is acceptable for me
FOTH: Have you ever had any injuries and if you have, what was the worst one and does the fear of getting hurt ever enter your mind?
JR: I’ve had a concussion, and a black eye from clipping heels in a race. So far, fingers crossed, that’s been it. Everyone you get on a horse there’s always a chance of you getting hurt. You know you’re going to get hurt, that’s a fact, and it’s just a matter of when and how bad. That’s just a realistic point of view.
FOTH: Do you think you will be involved in horse racing in one form or another or is when you hang up your riding boots so to speak you will move on to other things?
JR: I will always be involved in horse racing in some form whether it’s riding, grooming, training, owning. Even doing a stall…This is my life, my passion for forever.
FOTH: I am all out of questions. Thumbs up for the interview and any last words the floor is yours.
JR: Thumbs UP!!! Thanks for the interview Chris :) Greatly appreciate the recognition of my hard work; it’s starting to pay off. :)
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