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Jobs with Horses
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Jobs with Horses

Not many horse lovers are rich enough to be able to afford horses without working but work often does not allow you to have days off to go racing, hunting or competing, to say nothing of simply exercising your horse in winter when there is little daylight - so a dilemma arises. You can’t afford a horse without a job, but if you have a job there is no time for the horse.Some people are lucky enough to find office jobs that give them weekends free and manage to overcome the problems this way, but many find work that keeps them away six days a week. A job with horses may get round this problem and there are quite a few yards that offer free livery and use of their facilities as part of your wage. Genuine horse lovers will do anything to be near horses and are another category of people who want jobs in the equine field.There are newspapers and web sites with lists of equine jobs but one of the best ways is still word of mouth. This means both employer and employee know what they are getting better as you have mutual acquaintances who can describe the person’s ability and character. Word of mouth is like a reference, so if a valued employee recommends you there is a good chance the job will be yours. Likewise if a friend says, “it is a great place to work”, you will do everything you can to get a job there. Ads are impersonal and while something might sound great, reality can be a stark contrast.This article looks at some of the jobs open to horse fans.

Rider

If you are a good rider in one discipline you can look for a job as a rider. This covers every field from racing to jumping and work conditions vary according to discipline and yard. If you are a live in rider you will find some employers expecting you to be an unpaid groom too, so get the rules and your job description clear before accepting. This sort of job does not necessarily need to be at a high competition level as some yards employ people to ride out, especially during the off season. Granted there are not many of these jobs available and the work tends to be intermittent but it does exist if that is the route you want to take. Some trotting yards overseas pay good wages for people to take their horses to a track and trot for an hour. This is not as easy as it might sound. First trotting for one hour is a long time and even an experienced rider will not find this easy, but bear in mind trotters trot differently, so it is also uncomfortable. However the money is usually enough to live well on, so one trot in the morning, another in the afternoon and you are free for the rest of the day to visit whatever country you are in.

Groom

A job as a groom is the most common job for horse loving people. You do not need to be a fantastic rider and in some cases you do not need a lot of experience, all that is required is a love of horses and experience handling them. There are many downsides to being a groom, so you really need to love them lots to want to take this type of job. You will be mucking out, feeding, cleaning tack and keeping the yard tidy. If the horses compete there will also be plaiting, rug and bandage washing and travelling to shows. Some employers want a groom to drive the horses to the show and collect feed as well, but a driving licence is not usually an essential for getting the job.Grooms are underpaid and overworked in the majority of yards. The hours are long and unpredictable and on show days grooms have been known to work 14 – 16 hours. There is generally little thanks and a lot of “get me” and “take this” and grooms are often made to feel like inferior people by their employers. Before accepting a job as a groom find out how long grooms normally stay in that particular yard and try to avoid places where grooms stay about one month as there is probably a good reason. If you find a good employer this can be an ideal job, but unfortunately these are in the minority.

Teacher

A full time teaching job really only exists in the riding school area and this involves teaching beginners on horses and ponies that are fed up and lazy. You can teach them the basics but for the rest of the time you will find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over all day; “Shorten your reins”, “make him walk on”, “sit up” and a few more. To compensate for this you can see about teaching private lessons in the yard and try and make this part of your work agreement. Many riding schools also do livery and this is a set of potential clients just waiting to be taught, so do ask about this possibility before saying you will take the job.You can become a mobile teacher working for Pony Clubs, livery yards and anyone who wants lessons and has a place to conduct the lesson in, (field or paddock). This means building up a good name as a teacher or offering the first lesson free so pupils can see what you can do.

Blacksmith

Granted this is not what it used to be when hot shoeing was the only way to do the job and people travelled to your forge. With a portable forge you can still travel around and hot shoe and despite so many using bought shoes which they make fit the foot, (seems a bit like you buying shoes in the wrong size and cutting off your toe to make them fit rather than buying the right size), there are still people out there who believe the old adage that the shoe must be made to fit the foot and not the other way round.There are courses all round the country and many blacksmiths will be happy to have an apprentice along. They will teach you a few tricks and you get experience. What you do not get as a blacksmith’s apprentice is a lot of money as your training is thought to be enough.

Tack Shop

Working in a tack shop is a pseudo horse job, in that it is connected with horses but you never get to see any. It is quite well paid and has good hours as well as job stability and these are not things to take lightly in the horse world. If you work for a big shop you may get to go to shows with a stall but again this does not leave you in close contact with horses but rather with horse owners.However, it will generally pay enough for you to have a horse of your own and the hours allow you enough time to look after your horse and ride it. Some tack shop workers are lucky enough to get to go to compete at shows while working for the tack shop. What you do is take orders at a Saturday show and the next week take the items for delivery and payment and take more orders. It is simple and works well but you do need to get enough orders on a constant basis to justify your being absent from the shop.

Odd Jobs with Horses

There are many jobs involving horses that get forgotten about. Many involve you being a fan of one particular discipline and a few of them are included here:

  • Work at a race track – for example, handlers to put horses into stalls
  • Feed and bedding merchants – some have reps who travel to yards to show their products
  • Betting shops – granted it involves little horse contact but is in the right field
  • Newspapers and magazines – horse literature need writers and photographers
  • Managers – large yards need managers and secretaries
  • Taking tourists rides abroad – you will need to speak the language
  • Nutrition – supplements are big business and many reps travel to yards and shows
  • Selling horse boxes – someone has to do it
  • Saddler – why not learn a craft
  • Shows – course building and judging are two more possibilities
  • Artist – paint portraits if you are artistic, but do not expect to make millions
  • Make and design riding clothes – for anyone able to sew and design
  • Alternative therapy for horses – you need to learn about the therapy and be used to horses
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