Exercise Rider & Jockey Training

Length of Program: 15 WeeksProgram Intakes:  Winter Intake (February Start)February 2020


Exercise Rider & Jockey Training

Please note, the Winter 2020 intake of the Exercise Rider & Jockey Training program has been cancelled. Please contact us at horses@oldscollege.ca if you have any questions.

Olds College was the most important stepping stone for me and my thoroughbred racing career. I remember feeling that I would never learn to ride, but the instructors were supportive and offered encouragement that helped me keep going. I still refer to the methods they taught me every day.

Omar Moreno, Class of 2007, Professional Jockey - Woodbine Race Track

Exercise Rider racing a horse

What can you expect from the program?

This dynamic and interactive program provides hands-on learning using race horses as your text books. You will be taught to prepare and manage yourself as an entrepreneur with race horses as your business. The course uses standardized racing industry equipment, procedures, and on-site practical experience to give you the additional riding skills and knowledge you require to become a certified Exercise Rider in 15 weeks.

This exciting program is unique in Canada. You will have access to a variety of race horse breeds and Alberta A Track facilities to help you develop into a professional gallop rider and/or jockey. The program has been developed in conjunction with Horse Racing Alberta to provide the racing industry with qualified riders who will excel at the racetrack and at training centres. Your instructors are experienced professionals, with North American and International experience to help you learn best practices and techniques with a focus on safety and continuous improvement.

Student Success Story

OC Exercise Rider & Jockey Program Alumni Begins Internship in Dublin
Recent graduate (2018) Brady Betlamini will be spending the next month in Dublin, Ireland as he completes a four-week mentorship program at Racing Academy and Centre of Excellence.
Congratulations Brady! Read more at thehorses.com.

OC Exercise Rider & Jockey Program Alumni represents Canada abroad!
2009 graduate Kaylea Richardson-Hepburn is headed to Abu Dhabi! Kaylea is a jockey with the Canadian Amateur Jockey Association and represented Canada at the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Global Arabian Horse Racing Festival on November 6-11, 2018. Canada is a member of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies. We look forward to watching her experience from afar!

OC Exercise Rider & Jockey Program Alumni wins at Woodbine!
Congratulations to 2013 graduate Hannah Twomey on her first lifetime win as an Apprentice Jockey at Woodbine on November 11, 2018! May it be the first of many!

What will you learn?

The program is offered in three phases during your 15 weeks:

Phase 1 provides students with one month of riding instruction on horse simulators and industry loaned horses in the Olds College McLellan arena. In this first month you will receive an introduction to all aspects of the race horse, including:

  • Biomechanics
  • Body position and proper exercising techniques
  • Personal nutrition and fitness
  • Stable care and management
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Horse health care
  • Horse behavior

Your horse partners each have their own personality and your range of experience will increase with each new ride.

Phase 2 provides students with one month of riding instruction where they work with the horses on an outdoor training track.  During this phase students will get more experience on body position along the straight as well as turns, working on lead changes and your hand and body position. Students will receive continual assessment and testing from their instructors who are on lead pony horses on the race track with you. They will also focus on stable management and horse care, and the fundamentals of horse physiology and fitness from warming up to cooling out.

Phase 3 sees students get more riding experience as for one month you will ride on an "A" racetrack during a time allotted to your class. This gets you ready to meet the skill level required to become licensed as an Exercise Rider as per Horse Racing Alberta regulations. You will learn to put your entrepreneurship skills to work as you are introduced to racing barns and Trainers so that you can complete your 60 gallop ride practicum on the track. Your practicum will ensure that you become a fit, competent and confident exercise rider.  The support and encouragement from the industry and Horse Racing Alberta during your practicum will provide you with the skills to obtain your Exercise Rider License and go to work right away.

The Exercise Rider Program can be an excellent stepping stone for a future career as a jockey or race rider as Jockey theory is taught in Phase 3. To become a jockey you need to be an excellent seasoned exercise rider and have industry mentorship in an exercise rider role. Graduates from the Exercise Rider Program who meet the physical conditions and who demonstrate expertise as an exercise rider can be encouraged to train for a Jockey License.

* Your 60 gallop rides may be completed at any Alberta based horse racing facility.

Program at a glance

Credential: Certificate

Length of Program: 15 Weeks

Method of Delivery: Blended Delivery - Olds Campus, Race Track Racing

Directed Field Study/Work Term/Practicum: Yes, a work term consisting of 60 gallop rides is completed at the end of the program.

Program Timeline: 
Phase 1 - One month on campus training at Olds College
Phase 2 - One month of riding instruction where students work with the horses on an outdoor training track
Phase 3 - One month of riding on an "A" racetrack during a time allotted to the class. This gets students ready to meet the skill level required to become a licensed Exercise Rider according to Horse Racing Alberta regulations

Program Intakes:  Winter Intake (February program start)

Applications Open:  February 1 for the Winter Intake

Application and Document Submission Deadline: October 15

Selection Process for Admission: Competitive based on testing

Tuition, Mandatory Fees, Books, and Supplies: Please refer to the current Fee Schedule for details

  • Tuition & Fees: $1,760 / Books & Supplies: $250

*These fees are provided as estimates only for the purposes of budgeting. Please note that all fees are best estimates and are subject to change.

What do I need to apply?

Admission Requirements

  • 18 years of age or older
  • 50% or better in English Language Arts 10-1 or 10-2
  • 50% or better in Math 10C
  • Complete the On-campus Interview, Riding, Practical, and Fitness tests
  • Sign the Self-Declaration
  • Meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement

Interview, Riding, Practical And Fitness Test: Applicants with the required information completed and submitted will be pre-screened and those meeting the minimum requirements will be invited to Olds College for an on-campus interview and riding, practical and fitness tests.  Please note that not all applicants may be invited for the testing component.  The on-campus testing involves a personal interview and riding, practical and fitness tests.

Winter 2020 On-Campus Testing Date – Monday, October 21, 2019

Verbal Interview - The verbal interview will assess the applicant's knowledge of the horse racing industry, experience with horses, interest in the program and career goals.

Riding Test - The riding test will assess the applicant's experience with horses to judge the student’s skill set.  The riding test takes place in an indoor riding arena and will consist of following a basic pattern with the applicant showing a controlled walk, trot, canter/lope.

Practical Test - The practical test will assess the applicant's experience with horses to ensure that the student can  adequately cope with the course material.  Applicants will handle a horse and respond to questions.

Fitness Test - The fitness test will assess the applicant’s level of fitness to ensure that the student can handle the rigorous schedule and physicality of the program.

Self Declaration - All applicants to this program must meet the licensing and drug free requirements of Horse Racing Alberta to become licensed as an exercise rider (refer to page 33, Division 5 "Other Racing Participants Licenses" in the 'Rules Governing Racing').  This self-declaration form declares that you meet these requirements as indicated by Horse Racing Alberta.  This form is reviewed and signed at the on-campus interview.

Horse Racing Alberta Commitment - The Exercise Rider and Jockey Training program is subsidized financially by Horse Racing Alberta. As Horse Racing Alberta is committing to and providing an opportunity to applicants to obtain this education at a reduced costs, Horse Racing Alberta would like graduates to commit to Horse Racing Alberta by working the minimum of one season at the Alberta Horse Racing venues prior to moving on to other horse racing venues outside of Alberta.

Meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement (completed at minimum 3 years of formal education taught entirely in English or provide the results of a recognized English Language Proficiency exam)

Selection For The Programs - Applicants will be notified of their admission status no later than mid-December.  The number of qualified applicants may exceed the number of available seats within the program; therefore, the highest ranked applicants in the competitive entry process will be selected for admission. The remaining qualified applicants will be ranked and placed on a waitlist. 

Final selections for the Exercise Rider and Jockey Training program will be based on meeting the admission requirements of the program and evaluation of the on-campus interview and the riding, practical, and fitness tests.

If an applicant is unable to attend on-campus testing, they may have the option of submitting a video test and participating in a Skype/telephone Interview. Those applicants opting to participate in video testing risk the program being filled first by on-campus testing applicants.

Academic Upgrading and High School Applicants: Applicants currently in high school or who are completing academic upgrading must submit proof of enrolment and any available interim/ mid term marks. Final marks must be submitted within one month following the completion of the course(s) and no later than one month prior to the program start date.

Alternate Admission Option: Alternate Admission status may be offered to applicants who have not or will not complete one of the academic admission requirements. To be considered under Alternate Admission Status, applicants will be asked to provide the following:

  1. (Required) Transcript(s) showing any completed high school and post-secondary courses
  2. (Required) Letter of Introduction and Intent, outlining the following:
    • Introduce yourself
    • Indicate why you wish to enrol in the program
    • Elaborate on your career goals
    • Detail your experience relevant to this program and the industry
  3. (Required) A resume of your work history, extracurricular activities, volunteer service, etc. for the last 5 years
  4. (Optional) Include copies of any tickets and/or certificates you currently hold (e.g.: first aid, safety tickets, etc.)
  5. (Optional) Letter(s) of reference from current or past employers/coaches/etc. (maximum of two letters)

*Submitting Alternate Admission material does not guarantee admission*

Out of Province Applicants: Please refer to the Provincial Equivalency Chart for course equivalencies.

International Applicants: *This program is not recommended for International Students as it is difficult to attain the appropriate permit for a program that is less than 6 months.

Where can I Live On Campus?

Race Horse Groom and Exercise Rider & Jockey Training Program students spend only their first phase on the Olds College Campus. Details for housing at the track during the second and third phase will be provided to students in their first week of classes.

CHOC is the exclusive service provider of on-campus housing for Olds College. Live in Centennial Village, our newest campus living facility featuring 450 private suites (no roommates), or in College Courts our 4-bedroom townhouses. Enjoy a short commute to class, partake in weekly residence life events and enjoy the safety of living on campus.

Learn More

I have some more questions. Who do I contact for help?

Our Admissions office can help navigate you through the admissions process and answer any questions you have about your program of study.

Admitted Students

Admitted Student Information

Program Dates: Find out when you term start and end dates are, so that you know when you are expected to be in attendance. For more information, please review the Program Dates & Fee Schedule.

Class Registration: You will be registered into your classes automatically. This will happen approximately 1 month prior to the start-date for your program. You will be notified once you have been timetabled into your courses. You will be able to see your class schedule in your My Olds College account. If you need to make any changes to your class registration, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Technology Recommendation: It is strongly recommended that you come to Olds College with the following technology:

  • A laptop is preferred

As part of your student accounts, all students have access to Office 365 for the duration of their time with Olds College. To access this you just need to follow these steps:

  • Go to portal.office.com
  • Enter your Olds College email address and password
  • Once logged in there is a button on the right that says "Install Office Apps"

This will give you access to the full Office suite on your computer, for both Windows and Mac based platforms.

Materials & Supplies:

View the Exercise Rider Jockey Training Program Equipment List

Required textbooks will be supplied to you the first week of class.

Other Important Information:

  • Time Requirements: You will be attending class approximately six to eight hours per day. Classes are normally scheduled between 7 am - 4 pm, with some scheduled in the evenings and on weekends. You will be required to do daily assigned care of your horse after classes.  You should anticipate approximately 1 to 2 hours of additional study each night.

  • Chores: You will be participating in the care of the horses at Olds College, which will include doing chores as part of a team. Each chore team will be expected to work for 7 days, every three or four weeks throughout the program. On those weeks that your team is on chores, there will be two to five hours (daily) of feeding and caring for horses, to be done before and after regular class hours. Chores begin the first day of class, so please be prepared to do chores should your team be the first one selected to start that day.

  • Additional Skills: As this is a physically demanding program it is important to work on your fitness daily prior to coming into the program.  As this program requires a high level of riding skill it is important to continue to improve your riding until the program starts.

  • Horses on Campus: You will not be bringing your horse to use in the program. All horses needed for the program are supplied by the program through the generosity of our industry partners and selected for you to experience the type of horse you will ride in the flat racing industry.

  • Physical Program Requirements:

    • All admitted students must meet the licensing and drug free physical requirements of a Horse Racing Alberta groom and exercise rider.

    • All students must be able to be in a dusty, at times cold, environment, strong enough to move feed (bags and 60 lb bales) and hold a strong pulling horse on the ground and in the saddle.