They are stationed at every racetrack you will visit, and like a good offensive lineman, you may or may not even notice them.
While training or racing is being conducted on a racetrack, horsemen called outriders are employed to supervise the events and to help as necessary.
They are available any time horses are on the racetrack, whether it is during morning training or the afternoon’s races.
Outrider is an interesting word. Has a cowboy sort of feel to it – and you’d be right to think in that context.
One of the dictionary definitions says: “A mounted official who escorts racehorses to the starting post.” That’s correct also.
Some think of them as safety riders. Yup, you could say that, too. The safety of horses (and jockeys) is a big part of their agenda.
Their duties include escorting the Post Parade on the track but more importantly, they focus on keeping horses and jockeys safe during races and morning workouts.
Outriders and their ponies, usually former racers themselves, are trained to go after horses that get loose on the track so they don’t hurt themselves, other horses and jockeys.
Outriders are the ones who are the first into action when a racehorse loses his/her rider/jockey on the racetrack.
They go to/after the loose horse, which, in its flight, is a huge danger to other horses, to people and, perhaps most of all, to themselves.
If you’ve spent any time at the races, you’ve seen an outrider go lickety-split toward a racehorse who, for whatever reason, has lost his/her rider and is running loose on the track.
The outrider and his horse immediately go to max speed to catch up to the panicked animal, who is almost assuredly running somewhere between 30 to 40 miles an hour with no idea where it is going.
Having a well-trained horse to serve as a partner while catching a loose thoroughbred is vital to the outrider’s safety, as he/she is busy handling the racehorse.
Then – in a daring maneuver that would cause a real cowboy to nod his head in approval – they go just about side saddle to reach way down and grab the dangling reins and bring the loose horse to a slow and steady stop.
It is a stirring sight to see and a demonstration of horsemanship at its very best.
Here’s another definition; Outriders– unsung heroes at the racetrack.