422, photojournalism

Ruth Scherer: a female jockey’s race out of the gates

Ruth kisses, 4-year-old Titus, after riding him around the track. "He's my favorite horse here," she said. "Not many race horses you want to ride- but he's a good boy."

Ruth is in her jockey apprenticeship stage, she must complete 40 wins before moving on to the next stage. Ruth plans on going to Hialeyigha, a race track in Miami, Florida during the winter season to race only quarter horses. She may not get many mounts at this track, but "I won't know if I don't try."

Trainer, Raphel, hugs Ruth after her first quarter house win at Mount Pleasant Meadows, Saturday Sept. 35. "Thanks for winning me $150 bucks," said Raphel as he congratulated Ruth. She rode, Tough to Get Six, her uncle's horse in her winning race.

In the early morning Ruth rides out to the track to gallop and exercise the horse. Her best friend at the track, Saria Persall leads her out of the barn. Ruth rides over 15 horses a day. "I used to ride up to 30 before Tommy got here." Ruth's boyfriend of 8 years, Tommy, is also a jockey and rides multiple horses each morning. They begin their morning around 7am and end around 11am or later. "I used to end at 5pm, shower, go straight to bed and then wake up at 4am."

Julie and Ruth look over the race booklet for the day's races. Females jockeys are very rare in the horse racing industry even though men and women can compete at the same level as jockeys. "It's tough to be a girl in this sport- you just got to work extra hard." Mount Pleasant Meadows actually has 3 female jockeys: Julie who has been there since 1989, Kelli and now Ruth. Ruth has known both women for about 15 years.

"Everyone thinks it's such a glamorous sport," said Ruth covered in mud from nose down. "The mud can actually be really dangerous for the horse- and jockey." Ruth has wanted to be a professional jockey since she was 15. Pulled tendons in her arm and leg, a torn ligemate, and a broken foot shattered in 5 different places have set her planes back. Ruth now 32 is into her first season as a race jockey and will not be slowing down anytime soon.

Ruth Scherer: a female jockey’s race out of the gates

“It’s tough to be a girl in this sport- you just got to work extra hard,” said Ruth Scherer a female jockey at Mount Pleasant Meadows race track, Mount Pleasant, MI.

Ruth has wanted to be a jockey since she was 15-years-old, when she was put on her first race horse. For years, Ruth competed in show horse competitions and won many world medals, but she felt like she needed something more challenging. So Ruth made the transition into a different type of horse-related sport, horse racing.

Ruth is currently in her jockey apprenticeship stage, which means she must complete 40 wins before earning her jockey license. Since she has just begun it is hard to get mounts on the best horses, she must earn the owners trust. However, it is hard getting mounts just being a woman jockey- even though this is one of the only sports where men and women can compete evenly.

In training to become a jockey Ruth has sustained many injuries including, pulled tendons in her arm and leg, a broken foot that was shattered in 5 different places and a torn ligemate. “Everyone thinks it’s such a glamorous sport,” said Ruth who was covered in mud from nose down after one particularly muddy race.

The competition standards at Mount Pleasant Meadows, where she is currently spending the summer/fall season, are not as strict as other tracks. Ruth will be traveling to race at either a track in Miami or West Virginia for the winter season where she will have to begin intense work out regiments and dieting to meet weight.

Six days a week Ruth arrives at the track before sunrise to exercise and train the horses for various owners. On average she rides over 15 horses a day. “I used to ride up to 30 before Tommy got here.”

Ruth’s boyfriend of 8 years, Tommy, is also a jockey and rides multiple horses each morning. They begin their morning around 7am and end around 11am or later. “I used to end at 5pm, shower, go straight to bed and then wake up at 4am.”

Ruth has loved horses since she was young and knew she always wanted to be involved in some sort of horse sport. Now that she is finally out of the starting gate, it doesn’t seem like she’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

Update: a couple weeks after this, Ruth injured her knee in a morning training session and has since has surgery. She is now taking some time to heal before she rides again.

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2 thoughts on “Ruth Scherer: a female jockey’s race out of the gates

  1. Nice idea for a sports story. I love that it’s not your “normal” sport. You have a lot of great moment. The only thing I’d change is the order of a couple of things. But other than that really nice job!

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