Tough Ride

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 6, 2011 in General Discussion | 1 Comment >>

I have had the opportunity to speak with many riders through our Internet radio show. I have known many, but the interview sessions and off-air talk has enlightened me greatly.

The weight issue that riders fight is one that can bring the toughest of athletes to their knees. For me to lose 6 lbs would be a step in the right direction. For a rider that weighs 1/3 of my weight, 6 lbs could be dangerous. When chatting with Shane Sellers the other day, I found out many things. The big-time riders would not even have to weigh in. They were the marquee riders, and they could step right over the scale. The younger no-name riders barely able to make gas money, were dying attempting to drop pounds in the sweat box. It doesn’t sound like much, but ask your favorite defensive lineman the day of the Super Bowl to drop 20 lbs. It would be insane, and the same should be for the riders. The trainers argue that the weight can slow a horse, but what about the morning when an exercise rider weighs 150 lbs? Makes you think ……

For many professionals allowed to advertise with endorsements, it is easy money and added exposure…For jockeys, it has always been an uphill battle. There were a small group who lobbied and begged to get the rights for riders. As many sports, how are they remembered? They are black-balled and forgotten. For a rider to put their livelihood on the line and be disrespected is hard to believe. The few have always carried the many, and nothing ever changes. You can find this in every professional sport.

Safety is always an issue. Riders have been injured and worse on the oval, and the best of the year are awarded the George “the Ice-Man” Woolf Award for being a true professional. He fought diabetes and weight, and it is even rumored that his ailments could have led to his death on the final turn on January 3, 1946 at Santa Anita. But, as riders have made strides with safety helmets and jackets, we can always do more. I think you will hear first-hand when Shane Sellers joins us this week on our Internet show on Thursday evening at 8pm Eastern. He has a great deal to say, and it may illuminate some of the issues that still face our sport.

Be sure to tune in this week: Winning Ponies Radio Show