Maggie Carter rides out on the West Coast and I managed to get hold of her this email chat:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
MC: Born and raised in Long Beach, CA
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
MC: One sister (34) and one brother (39)
FOTH: What do you parents think of you being a jockey?
MC: They were apprehensive at first because they knew how dangerous it was but now they are both extremely supportive, my Mom goes to all of my races and my Dad brags about me to every one he meets :)
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?
MC: Definitely a tomboy :) I grew up on a ranch so I was raised around all sorts of animals. And in school I was always into sports, I played ice hockey for a while. (I was the only girl on my team and one of the only girls in the league.) I did karate for a couple of years, and I was also on the Cypress College swim team, but no matter what I always came back to the horses :)
FOTH: When you were young did you know that you wanted to become a jockey?
MC: No, I had always thought that I was going to become a police officer like my Dad and sister but as soon as I saw racing I knew that I wanted to become a jockey.
FOTH: What event or events led to you becoming a jockey?
MC: When I was about 13, a bunch of us went to Los Alamitos to watch a friend of my sister's ride and after that I used to beg my mom to take me to the track all the time and we ended up meeting a lot of very nice people. Finally I asked one of the trainers that we had met if I could go to his ranch to learn how to gallop and the very next day he sent me out to the ranch so that his brother could teach me.
FOTH: Tell us about your 1st race, where it was at, name of horse etc.
MC: My first race was on January 18, 2004 on a horse called Very Gold, we ended up finishing 5th.
FOTH: Tell us about your 1st win. Name of horses, how much you won by, etc.
MC: It was March 25, 2005 at Los Alamitos on an Arabian named The Final Answer. We ended up winning by a about a half a length, it was cool because we broke our maidens together :)
FOTH: Did you pelted with stuff after the race and did you know it was coming?
MC: I had already been warned but with all the excitement I forgot all about it until I saw everyone waiting for me when I got back to the jock's room, then it all came back REALLY quick! But luckily they only got me with ice water so I guess that I got off pretty easy :)
FOTH: Looking back, was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you thought? MC: It was a lot more work than I had originally thought but I loved every minute of it so it didn't really seem 'hard,' I guess that's one of the benefits of loving your job :) Anyways, you have to remember that anything that's worth doing is going to be difficult.
FOTH: I know you ride out in CA. What tracks have rode at and what is the difference in the tracks and do you have a favorite one?
MC: I ride primarily at Los Alamitos, but I have ridden at Stockton, Pleasonton (Where I won my 1st stakes race.), Bay Meadows, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar. Los Alamitos would most definitely be my favorite one and that's probably because it's my "home turf."
FOTH: Would you ever come east to ride?
MC: I would never rule it out, but right now I'm happy where I'm at. Truthfully, I 'm still fighting tooth and nail not to leave the nest, he he! :) My mom laughs at me because I'm 20 years old and still don't have a driver's license. But I did recently get my learner's permit, so I am making progress it's just in baby steps. :)
FOTH: Do you feel with each race that you are improving?
MC: I would have to say yes, because every single race is different than the one before so there's always something you learn, be it something little or something big. From how I started riding and how I'm riding now I feel that I have made a tremendous improvement.
FOTH: Take us through a typical day.
MC: I get up a little after 5 and go to the track and then take out anywhere from 5 to 10 horses. After that my mom and I go to the ranch an take care of the day to day things that need to be done, then in the evenings I workout on my Equicizer. On race days after galloping I come home and get on my Equicizer then take a shower and a nap. We have night racing at Los Al so the first race is usually at 7 p.m. which means I have to be there at least by 6. Sometimes I don't get home until 11 or 11:30 at night and then have to be back up at 5 a.m. The hours can really be hard on you but I love it so it's worth it.
FOTH: What are some hobbies and things you like to do when your away from the track?
MC: I love to read, I'm a such a book worm! But more than anything I love just being at the ranch, it reminds me of how simple life really is compared to how difficult we try to make it.
FOTH: How long would you like to ride for?
MC: As long as I'm still having fun and am able to do so.
FOTH: Are there any other female riders or female athletes that you admire?
MC: I admire anyone, male or female, who has the will and determination to stay in the business, or any sport, because its not as glamorous as it appears to be. It can really take a toll on you physically and emotionally, which ends up affecting your personal life, too. So I can't really single out one person because there are many people that I admire.
FOTH: If a young girl wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give to her?
MC: First I would tell her to find an established ranch and learn before even thinking about going to the track. But more than anything not to get discouraged, to stay focused on your goals and not to get side-tracked because it's so easy to do, and ALWAYS be open to advice and criticism because you never stop learning in this business or in life for that matter.
FOTH: Are there any goals you have for yourself?
MC: Professionally, I want to start riding quarter horses before this year ends. Personally, I would love to start a family one day, but that's more of a long term goal.
FOTH: Have you had any injuries at all?
MC: I have only had one spill race riding, it was last May (2004) and I was on an Arabian going 4 1/2 Fur. When she crossed her legs and went down. I landed head first and was knocked out for a good 15 minutes at least. I ended up getting a couple of compressed discs in my upper back and a pretty bad concussion. But luckily I was able to go back to riding right away. ( I fell on a Sunday and rode the following Thursday.)
FOTH: Do you pretty much get along with all the jockeys at the tracks and is it hard getting mounts in Ca at all?
MC: In that aspect I am fortunate, there are very few people that I don't get along with. It was REALLY slow when I first started but lately it has picked up considerably. Other jockeys that have come from other tracks have said that it is much harder to break into the California circuit compared to othe rs but I haven't ridden out of state so I don't really know the difference :)
FOTH: Any last words. Thanks for the interview.
MC: Just to thank you for the great site and to tell anyone out there with a dream to go for it!! You only live once :-)