If you love the feeling of freedom that accompanies horseback riding, you may be interested in finding jobs working with horses. Like any field, jobs in horsemanship require high levels of knowledge and skill, and you generally have to start at the bottom of the barrel in order to work your way to the top.
Types of Jobs Working with Horses
Large Animal Veterinarian
Just like any other animal, horses require regular medical attention and care in order to remain healthy. Large animal vets provide vaccinations, diagnose disease and treat injuries and illnesses. Unlike small-animal vets, large animal and horse vets often drive from ranch to ranch and provide care onsite. Becoming a veterinarian requires intense medical training at a doctorate level of education. There are fewer veterinary schools than medical schools, so veterinary medicine is often considered a harder field to enter into than human medicine. Not only must you be committed to intense scientific study in order to become a vet, you must also be okay with the messy side of life. Vets handle animal trauma, perform surgery and deliver babies, and in cases of severe injury, must be willing to put an animal to sleep.
Horse trainers may simply break horses, making them comfortable for riding and competition, or they may work intensely with racehorses, preparing them for sporting events. In either case, horse trainers must be intensely aware of the anatomy, physiology and psychology of a horse. Trainers must schedule workouts, work with owners, breeders and riders in order to make sure the horse is progressing in its training as expected. When a trainer progresses to the prestigious field of racehorse training, she must be able to sell herself as a trainer and manager and must be able to work well with other horse professions in order to get the most out of the animals she trains. This includes working closely with jockeys, nutritionists, grooms and blacksmiths.
Working as a jockey requires a specific build and stature, as well as a fearless attitude. Jockeys are small, strong and courageous; if a jockey falls off during a horserace, they risk being trampled by animals weighing a thousand pounds. Jockeys generally start out as stable hands, working intimately with horses while honing their horsemanship and riding skills. To become a successful jockey, you must be an extremely strong rider who is adept at reading race scenarios, strategizing and executing risky maneuvers in the midst of an intense race.
Horseback Riding Instructor
If you've spent years riding horses and you have honed your knowledge to the extent that you feel comfortable passing your knowledge on to others, you may want to become a horseback riding instructor. Instructors teach children and adults the ins and outs of horseback riding. This includes everything from grooming, tacking and leading a horse to skills like jumping, dressage and showmanship. Many horseback riding instructors own their own stables or have access to their own horses. If you're serious about becoming a horseback riding instructor, consider attending an equine school to expand your knowledge and learn how to teach others.
A farrier, or blacksmith, is responsible for the care of a horse's hooves. This includes making, shaping and applying horseshoes, as well as trimming hooves and inspecting hooves for inspection or injury. You must be comfortable bending, crouching and working with metal in order to become a farrier.
Jobs working with horses can be intensely rewarding careers, but they're a lot of hard work, too. Before committing yourself, consider volunteering at a local stable in order to see what it's like when you have to muck out stalls or exercise a horse in the pouring rain.