Riding out for a racehorse trainer is an excellent way to improve your fitness, judgement of pace and learn about getting a horse to the peak of its condition.

Most trainers, and especially the smaller yards, are only too pleased to have extra help from a proficient rider, especially at weekends and on racedays. But you have to remember that every horse is their responsibility and they have to be 100% confident that the person on board is proficient.

It is unrealistic to expect to be paid if  you have no experience of riding out for a trainer. Once you have accumulated some experience, however, it is possible remuneration may be offered.

Trainer Tom Symonds welcomes enquiries from people wanting to ride out, but cautions that they should have theright credentials.

“The first thing I ask anybody who rings me is whether they have ridden out for other trainers before. I wouldn’t dismiss somebody who hasn’t, but I’d want to know they were capable of handling a fit racehorse and were reasonably fit themselves.”

Kim Bailey concurs: “Riding a racehorse is totally different to sitting on any other type of horse or pony. Generally riders with an eventing or hunting background will adapt quickly, but I am careful who I take on. Any new employee will come for a week’s trial, while voluntary riders will also be assessed.”

Trainers have an obligation to their staff to ensure they are properly trained and that they comply with the relevant health and safety laws. It is also up to them to provide insurance cover — you should not have to.

Anna Goodley of bloodstock insurance specialist Lycetts advises: “If you want to ride out for a trainer, you should offer a regular commitment to them so that it is worthwhile them adding you to their insurance and providing you with the correct training.”

If you are certain that you have the right credentials, but the trainer is reluctant to take you on, it is always worth your while trying elsewhere, agree Tom and Kim.

The full Ask H&H article about riding out for a trainer was published in Horse & Hound magazine (6 June 2013)