Life can be tough if it is your job to steer half a ton of horse flesh over obstacles on a muddy turf course in freezing conditions. However that is exactly the scenario jump jockeys face day in day out during the heights of the season.
If you ask these men and women, though, they will confess how much they love the ‘game’. It’s pure dedication and passion for the sport – in fact a certain lifestyle that is as dangerous to the human body, that a single fall can end your career, if not your life. You’ve got to be made of a certain character to endure this kind of pressure on any given day.
It’s not a life made of caviar and champagne. Far from it it. It’s a puristic life, for most parts. It has little financial incentive for many jockeys out there, who in fact struggle to make a living. If your not at the top of the game, then you may end up jumping out of the bed in the early morning for one ride on the other end of the country, booked on a long-shot, who you potentially fall off from during the race, paid your riding fee which pays at least for petrol and maybe a coffee, though nothing else.
It’s all about dedication and passion. Look into the faces of these men and women. It’s all there. You can see it. Passion. Dedication. Love. Desperation. It’s a life rich of moments and emotions.
New York’s imposing skyline in sight. The chilly December wind is slowly creeping in through the open door, cuts into the faces of the crowd. People gathering around this one open front door of the ferry. It’s a confined space. Not much room to breathe. Some shoving, a little bit of pushing. Nothing serious though. Everyone wants to get the best possible view, soaking in the moments, when approaching Manhatten. This skyline, the famous buildings rising sky high, seen so often before, then in the comfort of the own sofa – now here, it’s real, it’s palpable. Is it? Photos, selfie, video… do we really catch the moment?
There in the distance, a mix of foggy, dark red and grey clouds drifting over the hills of Skellig Bay. A sign of what is inevitably soon to arrive: The night. The moment he’s coming down the stairs. Touching the soft, smooth sand of the beach. It’s this known feeling. A feeling of home. The red coat shiny and beautiful, glittering in the setting sun. A typical Irish Setter. Excited, exuberant, bathing in the cool sea, playing with the waves. They have been here so many times before. He and his man. Every single night, for the last 8 years. Still, the magic of this place doesn’t cease to overwhelm. It’s the light. It’s the sound. It’s the Ocean.