If you truly love horses, and enjoy every minute you spend around these magnificent animals, then a horse job might just be your path to career fulfillment.
There are a wide variety of horse jobs available in today’s growing equine industry. And unless you live in a very large metropolitan area like New York City or Los Angeles, there’s almost always positions available working with horses within a comfortable commuting distance.
Jobs working with horses include horse riding, teaching riding lessons, working in a boarding stable, large animal veterinarian technician, horse sitting, non-profit equine rescue and adoptions, horse grooming, breeding, farrier, jockey, saddle and harness maker, equine sports therapy, barn hand, cowboy, ranch hand, mounted police officer, and many more.
Some of these horse jobs can be secured without any formal education or training, and a strong enthusiasm for horses is enough to get an apprenticeship or entry-level position. For other jobs, a higher education degree will be required, especially in the veterinary medicine career fields.
Also keep in mind before you embark on this career path that many horse jobs aren’t high-paying positions. Many workers are willing to accept lower wages for the privilege of spending their work days surrounded by horses, and so job fulfillment and satisfaction is part of the reward in this industry.
There’s more to life than money, after all, and going home at night with the smell of hay on your clothes and a smile on your face is a big bonus for many people. Especially if you’ve ever worked at a job in a cubicle surrounded by computer screens and ringing phones all day, with a boss you can’t stand breathing over your shoulder.
Finding a horse job that’s right for you
A good place to start before diving into the large equine industry is by asking yourself exactly why you’d like to work with horses, and what skills and life experiences you would bring to the table.
If you’ve never owned a horse of your own, or spent any time riding or just being around these animals, but you thought that working with equines sounded like “fun,” you might think hard before diving in.
While there are many rewards and a lot of job satisfaction when working with horses, these jobs are also typically hard work.
Usually you won’t be spending your days relaxing on horseback, singing songs and waiting for the next break time to arrive. There are almost always other chores to be attended to, even for riders, including cleaning up the stable, feeding and grooming the horses, working with customers, and more.
Getting started in this exciting industry
Once you’ve decided that this is an industry you want to be a part of, then you can move on and formulate a plan of action. A good place to start is by doing some research on the Internet. Find out the educational requirements for the horse job your considering, and see if there are any schools offering those courses in your area.
You can also look at some job postings for the job you’re considering, and see what employers are looking for in the way of education and experience.
If you’re interested in one of the higher paying jobs in the equine industry, you’re going to probably need at least a bachelor’s degree in something like veterinary medicine, equine behavior or sports therapy. Many times you’ll need a graduate degree as well, so expect to spend several years hitting the books, and you might have a sizable student loan to pay off as well.
If that doesn’t sound like the path you’re interested in taking, there are still a lot of horse jobs available that don’t require a four-year degree, or a degree at all. You could get an entry level job as a stable hand, for example, often will little or no experience.
You could also learn to be a rider, groomer, or farrier without a degree, although those jobs do require specialized training. Some employers might be willing to take you on as a trainee or apprentice.
It’s a good idea to attend horse-related events, network, and get to know as many people as you can. As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know, especially when you’re new and looking to get some training and experience working with horses.