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BLuegrass News

NARA Students 'Jockey' for New Careers

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While the North American Racing Academy (NARA) is primarily known as a school for future professional jockeys, many students now enrolled in NARA have chosen to keep their boots firmly on the ground as they pursue careers strictly aimed at the care and training of the racehorse.

Since it began in 2006, NARA has produced professional jockeys who have won more than 1,000 races and whose mounts have earned more than $12 million. Yet an increasing number of students (some former jockey pathway students who have changed course) realize that there is greater demand than ever by professional horsemen and horsewomen from across North America for well-trained workers.

To that end, NARA provides both an associate’s degree, and in the future, a certificate designed to provide skills in both equine science and equine management.

“With the ever increasing restrictions on access to the foreign temporary labor pool, horsemen across the U.S. have indicated their need for grooms, barn foremen and assistant trainers . . . not just exercise riders and jockeys,” said BCTC Executive Director of Equine Programming Remi Bellocq.

To better prepare these students, NARA has embarked on a new initiative under its Horseman’s Pathway curriculum aimed at raising the bar as high for its non-jockey horsemanship students as for its riding students. During this past fall, horseman pathway students were matched-up for one-week mentorships with top trainers in town for Keeneland’s fall racing meet.

Combining the hands-on experience and the networking opportunities with horsemen in Central Kentucky is critical to student success and will help NARA and BCTC provide the trained workforce the racing and breeding industries need.