There are few horse jobs more well-known than that of the horse trainer. These are the professionals who get horses ready for everything from basic riding to high-level competition, and collectively they possess the most equine knowledge with regard to riding and horsemanship.
If you want to become a horse trainer, you’ll have stiff competition. This is one of the most coveted—and therefore the most saturated—horse jobs in the world. However, if you can offer your clients honest, reliable training services for a reasonable price, you’ll be able to find work. Guaranteed.
Horse Trainer Schedules
This is one of those coveted horse jobs in which the professional is free to set his or her own schedule, within reason. You might have set hours if you work for someone who requires it, but more often you’ll have the freedom to work when you want as long as you get the job done.
Horse trainers must work during daylight hours, for the most part, and may be able to find full-time work. This doesn’t mean you’ll be on a horse’s back for eight hours each day, but it does mean you’ll be working with and around horses for most of those hours. In addition to riding, you’ve got to attend to administrative tasks (e.g., billing, marketing, communicating with clients) as well as chores around the barn.
The precise schedule of a horse trainer depends on the services he or she offers. Some horse trainers will bathe, groom, and medicate their charges in addition to working with them under saddle. This is particularly common if you’re working with babies who need ground training as well as the rest of it.
Horse Trainer Workplace
As is true with many horse jobs, horse training puts the professional in the barn (and outlying areas). The weather is often an issue (hot in summer, cold in winter, wet all year ’round), which is why horse trainers should try to work at a facility that offers an indoor (or at least covered ) arena.
Some horse trainers work in elaborate equestrian facilities, while others train from humbler venues. It depends largely on the type of training the professional is performing. If you’re working with high-dollar show horses, you workplace is likely to be fancier than if you are breaking two-year-olds for auction.
For the most part, horse training involves an agreeable workplace with plenty of people around. It is typically not lonely work, and there are always colleagues around to help if you have questions or if you need to brainstorm on a problem.
Horse Trainer Experience, Education, and Training
There are no specific credentials required of horse trainers. There are plenty of trainers out there with no professional education or certifications who make great livings in their careers, but education certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of success.
A traditional college education is advisable, particularly if you’d like to eventually work for yourself. Classes in business administration, economics, equine science, veterinary science, anatomy, and marketing are all beneficial for horse trainers.
If you are going to take classes, seminars, workshops, or clinics with a professional horse trainer in order to advance your education or career, be cautious. Many of these programs cost thousands of dollars and yield nothing of value, so make sure you know the person who will be delivering the class.
Horse Trainer Responsibilities & Duties
At its core, a horse trainer’s job is to work directly with horses to achieve desired results. However, some horse trainers must attend to other duties on the job that are related to their core purpose.
These might include:
Scheduling and overseeing appointments with veterinarians and farriers
Grooming and/or bathing horses in training
Educating clients about training techniques
Collecting money from clients
Scheduling visits from clients and/or colleagues
Teaching riding lessons
Cleaning stalls, feeding, turning out, and other tasks related to the barn
Every horse training job is different, and it is important to ask prospective employers what will be expected of you. It is equally important to be honest about your skills and education so you aren’t asked to perform a task with which you aren’t familiar.
Horse Trainer Skills
Horse trainers must be kind, efficient, and committed to their work. They should be comfortable working with both people and horses in stressful situations.
One of the main skill sets that many horse trainers lack is the ability to set and assign reasonable goals. As you get more experience under your belt, you’ll get a better feel for reasonable expectations for both horses and clients, but it is extremely important never to overpromise.
Because horse trainers often set their own schedules and work on their own, they must be capable of efficient time management and self-supervision. They should be well-versed in safety procedures when it comes to working with young and unpredictable horses, and they must be willing to follow safety precautions at all times.
If you want to be a horse trainer, you should be physically fit and capable of engaging in hard labor for extended periods of time.
Horse Trainer Employment Prospects
As long as there are people who ride horses, there will be a need for horse trainers. In times of economic peril, horse trainers have more difficulty finding work because people are less likely to spend money on luxuries like horse training. However, this doesn’t mean that the work is fruitless.
It is a good idea for horse trainers to find a steady job and stick with it. Building a loyal client base is paramount, so horse trainers who move around a lot or get bored easily will have difficulty establishing a profitable business. It is much easier to stay in one place and allow your reputation to blossom.
Horse Trainer Earnings
The earning potential for horse trainers is limitless, provided the trainer is good at his job and capable of employing sound business practices. That said, most horse trainers aren’t living in million-dollar houses. The work is hard and often doesn’t pay as well as it should.
This, again, is why staying in one place and nurturing your reputation is important. As demand for your services increases, you can increase your prices accordingly. Horse trainers that are high in demand can make perfectly reasonable livings.
Most horse trainers, offering their services on a monthly basis, can expect to earn between $200 and $2,000 per month, per horse. As you can see there is a wide disparity between low- and high-earning horse trainers, so keep working toward developing a reputation.
Keep in mind that, if you’re working for someone else, you will probably not get to keep everything you earn. You might earn a salary directly from your employer if you are classified as an employee, or you might have to pay a grounds fee if you are an independent contractor.