Veronika Aske began her riding career with show jumpers. She was introduced to harness racing by her uncle who had a neighbor with a trotter. “I went over every day,” she said.
Licensed to race since 2004, Veronika rides with the Amateur Fegentri Ladies group and has competed in Sweden, Spain, and Houston, Texas.
“Racing is so exciting,” she said. ” I like the speed. When you sit on a new horse you must get to know it on the way to the gate and in the gate. Sometimes its more challenging going to the gate and when the gates open, that is the biggest thrill as you are concentrating on doing it right. You need to have a lot of strength.”
Veronika schedules her workouts and rides around her day work as a TV reporter and presenter.
“In Norway they do not use whips in the races,” she said. “I feel that if the horse really wants to run, it will run. I don’t believe in hitting them many times.”
Her advice to someone qualified who might be interested in amateur race riding is to go to the home country jockey club and ask about riding out for the day or go directly to a trainer and ask about getting a ride.
The positives of racing include:
Being out in all types of weather which is very healthy.
It’s so much fun.
The negative side:
She might wear as many as five sets of goggles in wet weather.
A rider since she was very young, the intervention of a friend of the family took her to the race track.
“You get to know the horses so well, and they like to work with you,” she said. “There is only a small saddle and not a lot of contact. The horse knows what you want him to do. He will give his strength and everything to you! “
Manuela has ridden In England, Italy, Hungary, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic. She often pays her own way to the amateur rides in other countries. With the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Championship, the travel and expenses are paid.
“You can go all over the world and find a race track and ask if you can ride out, and often you can get a morning ride and get to know the trainers and gain experience,” she said. “You will make friends all over the world.”
The positive side of racing:
“My parents are really proud and my friends think it is great,” said Manuela.” They think it is good that I can see the world. While at University I am lucky as I ride every day around my schedule. After I am working full-time, it will change, no doubt.”
Manuela’s dream job would be to work in a large racing stable as the race veterinarian.
Her race philosophy:
“The horse has to want to run and you cannot fight with him. You must learn to understand your horse, and respect him, even if you are only on for minutes. He’s stronger than you. It is the most beautiful thing in the world to sit on a good horse fighting to win. As I study the way the horses are made, it is amazing that they can run so fast.”
~~Shathra Al Hajjaj, Dubai, UAE DOB: 1984 First Racing License: 2011 Flat wins:1
Shathra started to ride at age 17 with her sister at the Sharjah Equestrian Club, a private stable where they could ride wearing the hijab (scarf). “My father was okay but my Mother was somewhat afraid,” she said. Luckily for her, her Grandmother was on her side.
‘Your girl is strong so you must let her ride as she wishes,’ was her Grandmother’s advice to the family. As there was great respect for the elder’s opinion, Shathra and her sister were allowed to ride. “Now, all of my family are supportive, including the men,” said Shathra.
For the first 11 years, Shathra rode in endurance races, but is now spending more time on race riding.
The thrill is there for the young Emirati, but she admits that on her first race she felt frozen on the horse. On her second race, she lost her stirrups, but then things started coming together for her. At the first amateur ladies race in Oman in 2012, she had gained confidence. “I felt I knew how to choose my place in the field and I had a plan and followed it.”
“Everything went well during the race,” she continued. “I pushed my horse, but I lost my whip and I came in second. Even second, it was my favorite race. It was a really nice feeling.”
What does she love about racing?
“Once the gate opens, I forget everything and everything is forward,” she said.
She feels that she has much more to learn, and wants to continue riding. Will that be in her future?
“There is a saying in Arabic,” she said with her customary smile : “Everything is good from God”.
Anna Wallace, Great Britain DOB: 1978 Profession: Assistant Arabian race horse trainer First Flat Racing License: 2008 Flat race wins: 2
Anna lives in West Sussex, and her life revolves around Arabian horses.
She is an assistant trainer and also rides out for various trainers while taking amateur rides whenever she can. Riding between 30-40 races a season, Anna was the leading UK Arabian Lady jockey for 2008.
“Flat racing is exciting,” said Anna. “It’s great to see the horses I train progress and win. I love to win.”
Anna races under the umbrella of the Arabian Racing Organization (ARO) and is a member of the Amateur Jockey’s Association of Great Britain. http://www.amateurjockeys.org.uk/
Azhar Al Wardi, Oman DOB: 1986 Profession: Racing, Royal Calvary of Oman First Racing License: 2005 Flat Wins: 7
At the age of 14, Azhar went to the Royal Calvary Stables of Oman to learn to ride. The Royal Cavalry is open to all and supports the equestrian activities for Oman’s nationals, including archery on horseback, carriage driving, endurance, jumping, polo, Arabian traditional riders, and racing.
There are many discipline levels in the Royal Stables, and Azhar’s first lesson was to learn to drive carriage horses. Once she mastered that, she moved to the jumping section and learned how to ride.
“From the beginning I alway wanted to be in the racing section,” she said. “I had to go step by step. I was so happy when they told me that I could advance to racing. I am now working as a supervisor of all of the girls in the racing section.”
Azhar’s duties include helping some of the 20+ girls involved in racing and encouraging them. She thinks it is an excellent and exciting discipline. “You learn to be strong. You feel happy when you see that you can win.”
She also likes that she has been given the opportunity to ride and compete in different countries and meet other girls who ride in amateur racing.
“We have a lot of support for riding in Oman,” she said. “There are more than 1,000 girls riding at the Royal Calvary in all of the disciplines.”
Jane Foley, Ireland DOB: 1983 Profession: Accounting First Racing License: 2005 Flat Wins: 4
Jane’s parents are horse people and her father follows race horses as a hobby. She had her first pony by the time she was three and started in show jumping and whatever she could do with ponies as she grew older. Although she is the first in the family to have an amateur license, there were famous jockeys in the family in the past.
When her cousin, who trains race horses, asked her to ride out, she went willingly. On her second ride she joined a schooling flat race over two miles and loved it. There was no going back. She now gets an average of 30 amateur rides a year.
“I love the competition of the sport and the adrenalin rush,” she said. “There are great friends and great people in racing. Every day is a good day. If it is a bad day, your people pick you up, and if it’s a good day, people congratulate you.”
Her ideal job would be to work as a financial administrator in a racing yard.
Nicole Schlatter, Switzerland DOB: 1983 Profession: Attorney in Training First Racing License: 2005 Flat Wins: 3
Nicole is studying the law. After graduation in 2013, she will work for her apprentice year and will specialize in contract and criminal law. Even though the law is her chosen career, she spends her weekends on the racetrack and gets approximately 20 amateur rides a year.
Nicole started riding before she was five and her disciplines as she advanced were classical dressage and show jumping. When she was 12, she met a lady jockey who became a friend and she was invited to come ride her thoroughbred race horse. Nicole found that she liked the speed. Within a year, she was riding regularly for a trainer and had her license at age 18. Nicole has purchased her own thoroughbred race horse to train.
Nicole loves racing, but she has her business plan firmly in place. “Riding a winner is such a pleasure in life,” she said. “My professional career will be my first priority and horse racing is my passion.”
Amy Mullen, Pennsylvania, USA DOB: 1993 Profession: Horse training First Racing License: 2012
Amy feels that she has ridden her entire life. Her favorite discipline before she found flat racing two years ago, was three-day eventing.
Her start into flat racing began when she started work for a racing farm, training two-year olds and galloping horses.
She loves the speed and the feel of winning and still competes in timber racing (similar to steeplechase). She now works full-time for trainer, Jonathon Sheppard, and Delaware is her closest race track for gallops.
Amy has ridden three flat races as an amateur, and the May, Newbury, UK ride was her first time racing an Arabian and her first competition outside of the USA.
She admits you must get to know how a horse will run very quickly. “It’s good experience to try to work with the horses, and you must feel them out between the saddle-up and the gate.”
Amy is a member of the Amateur Riders Club of America (ARCA) that is an affiliate of Fegentri: http://www.amateurjockeys.org
“To get this experience and the opportunity to come to different venues and ride different horses is incredible,” she said.
Stéphanie Husser, France DOB:1973 Profession: Financial Investment Assistant First Racing License: 1994 Flat Wins: 17
Stéphanie was born in Strassbourg. Since there was no money for lessons she went with her sister to ride ponies whenever possible. Just to be with the horses, she worked at a pony club.
At the club she met a race trainer and started working with some of his horses, then advanced to training in the mornings. After she started to ride as an amateur, she did not win her first race for seven years.
“There are not a lot of amateur races in France,” she said. “When there is one, they would call for a known amateur.”
Her break came when one of the horses that she was training was entered in a race and she was the obvious choice to ride – and she won. She then began to get more notice. In 2004 she moved to Chantilly to be closer to a race track. ” I won four races in 2006,” she said proudly.
She joined Fegentri in 2007 and has traveled to Qatar and Mauritius with the Lady Riders. She likes the connection, the travel and to possibility to meet interesting people with the group.
“I love horses,” she said. ”It is my oxygen. I need the contact. I also love the competition, the preparation for the competition. And it’s fun to win!”
~~Tjarda Van den Broek Humphreij, Netherlands DOB: 1977 Profession: Trust Company Legal Assistant First Racing License: 2006 Flat wins: 9
At first Silke rode her own jumping horses. With the help of a thoroughbred trainer, she started riding out with the race horses. She likes working with the horse and using his speed and his power.
Her family understands her passion and her father owns a thoroughbred filly in race training.
Silke likes to ride with the amateur jockeys group as it is so much fun and she gets to see a bit more of the world.
”It’s also very exciting”, she added.