Modern Careers in the Horse Industry
Modern Careers in the Horse Industry
While the age of horse-drawn plows and carriages has passed, many horses are still used today for work purposes. Horses can be found working with and for people in a variety of places.
For those hoping to pursue a career working with horses, options may include those in equine health, sales, insurance, training, supplies and services. The list of possible career paths in the equine industry is always evolving.
Equine veterinarians are large animal practitioners that specialize in health management of horses. Equine vets are licensed animal health professionals who are qualified to diagnose and treat horses involved in competition and production.
Farriers are highly skilled equine foot care professionals. While this job is known to be physically demanding, it offers substantial financial rewards and a flexible schedule. Farriers use a variety of tools to trim and shape a horse’s hooves every six to eight weeks to maintain proper balance of the foot and lower limbs.
Large breeding farms employ many managers to oversee the various departments, such as broodmares, stallions, yearlings, etc. Smaller operations may employ just a single farm manager that is responsible for overseeing all aspects of equine management.
Horse breeders produce and sell horses for a variety of purposes, such as racing, showing and pleasure riding. The duties of a horse breeder may include such responsibilities as facilitating breedings, handling stallions, teasing mares, attending foalings, assisting with veterinary exams, keeping herd health records and managing farm staff.
Farm or Barn Manager
Managers bear the ultimate responsibility for managing all aspects of equine care, supervising farm employees on a daily basis. Managers must be highly skilled in all aspects of horsemanship, possessing a solid working knowledge of basic medical treatments, equine nutritional needs and equine behavioral management techniques.
Grooms provide daily care and maintenance for the horses under their supervision. Grooms are generally responsible for tasks, such as mucking out stalls, feed preparation and distribution, cleaning and refilling water containers, grooming and bathing, cleaning tack, bandaging legs, tacking up and administering basic first aid.
The broodmare manager position is an important one in the equine breeding industry. The typical routine for a broodmare manager includes teasing mares, attending foalings and being on call for emergencies, and maintaining herd health records. The broodmare manager may need to develop proficiency with techniques such as artificial insemination, semen collection and embryo transfer.
Stallion managers supervise the care, handling and breeding of stallions. They are involved in scheduling breeding shed appointments, supervising daily care and promoting stallions to the public.
A yearling manager is tasked with the comprehensive management and care of young, rapidly growing horses. Often, preparing young horses for sale is a large part of the job. Yearling sales are a large portion of the equine sales industry.
Riding and training careers are most frequently found in niche areas, such as horse showing or horse racing. Trainers and riders must be particularly well attuned to equine behavioral signals to ensure their safety when working with young and potentially unpredictable animals.
Horse trainers are responsible for training horses to perform specific behaviors in response to a rider’s cues. They are responsible for planning training exercises, breaking horses to saddle and bridle, desensitizing horses to unfamiliar sights and sounds, treating minor injuries and consulting with veterinarians.
Professional riders often travel the show or polo circuits, being paid directly for their services by clients or earning prize money on their own as independent contractors. Some riders may also earn money from offering clinics to train other equestrians and their horses.
Riding instructors provide coaching to their students in a wide variety of equestrian disciplines. They design skill-building exercises to improve performance and communication between horse and rider to work through during lesson sessions. Instructors provide advice on proper technique for the discipline and troubleshoot communication issues.
Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies
Within the field of equine assisted activities and therapies, there are a variety of professional career paths, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Credentialed therapists can utilize horses as part of therapy for individuals affected by physical, mental and emotional challenges.
Equine Association Representative
Equine association representatives can work for a number of equine groups and clubs, such as the USEF or AAEP, and breed organizations, such as AQHA. These associations hire a variety of administrative staff members, customer service reps, registrars, writers and marketing personnel.
Careers in the horse racing industry can range from administrative positions to those working directly with racehorses on a hands-on basis. Administrative roles include bookkeeper, steward and racing secretary. Roles that involve daily contact with horses include groom, outrider and trainer.
An exercise rider is responsible primarily for riding racehorses in workouts according to the instructions of the trainer. Exercise riders must have the skill to control horses of varying ages and levels of racing experience. They must be physically fit and maintain an appropriate riding weight.
Horse identifiers are responsible for guaranteeing the identity of each horse that is entered in a race. Horse identifiers are responsible for guaranteeing to the wagering public that the horse they bet on is, in fact, the one whose record is listed in the racing program.
The paddock judge supervises horses and oversees all activities in the paddock and saddling areas, ensuring that horses are outfitted with approved racing equipment in a timely manner.
A jockey rides racehorses in flat or steeplechase races according to the trainer’s instructions and can ride multiple races each day. A jockey works closely with the racehorse trainer to develop strategies that will give the horse its best chance to win.
Racehorse trainers supervise the daily care and conditioning of the horses in their stable to properly prepare them for competition on the track. Racehorse trainers are responsible for ensuring that the horses in their care receive proper nutrition, veterinary attention and exercise.
Racetrack outriders are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for all horse racing participants at the track during morning workouts and live racing. Outriders are responsible for opening and closing the track each day and clearing equine traffic when necessary so that harrowing and maintenance can be performed.
Track veterinarians are licensed equine practitioners tasked with ensuring that all racehorses at a track are healthy and sound for competition. They remain on call during live racing to attend to any injuries, emergencies or late scratches in the paddock or gate area.
Racing stewards oversee horse racing events to ensure that all rules and regulations are followed by participants. Racing stewards oversee race meetings and enforce the rules of racing. They are tasked with investigating possible infractions, conducting hearings and taking disciplinary action upon those found guilty of violations.
Equine Insurance Agent
Equine insurance agents offer a number of different insurance policies to protect the horses owned by their clients. Policies for these horses may include coverage for mortality, major medical/surgical, surgical only, liability, loss of use, and Care Custody and Control (CCC) liability insurance coverage to farm or barn owners.
Animal photographers supply images of animals for use in commercial and artistic endeavors. Animal photographers must have an eye for capturing balanced, interesting images of their subjects. They must have knowledge of how to use various lenses, flashes and other equipment to compensate for lighting conditions, weather conditions and animal movement.
Equine Product Sales Representative
Equine product sales representatives market a variety of horse-related products. This includes horse feed, supplements, saddlery, trailers, grooming equipment, pharmaceuticals and accessories. Product sales representatives are supervised by sales managers, who oversee their efforts to place products in retail locations and veterinary offices.
There are quite a few career paths that do not fall neatly into other categories.
Those with a knack for marketing and sales can find a number of options that will allow them to utilize those skills in the equine industry, such as selling equipment, pharmaceuticals, feed, tack, insurance, and more. A successful salesperson can earn extremely high levels of compensation.
Equine Extension Agent
Agricultural extension agents present information about industry advances that may positively impact local farmers and livestock producers. They may present information on scientific advances, farm management, marketing, production and other topics that are relevant to agricultural businesses operating in their region or district.
Mounted Police Officer
Mounted police officers use their horses to provide crowd control and deter crime. Mounted officers must first achieve regular police officer status via police academy training (which takes roughly six months) and then work for about three years on the regular force before becoming eligible to apply for specialty units like the mounted patrol.
Dude Ranch Wrangler
Dude ranch wranglers guide tourists on trail rides and assist with saddling and equine care. Those working in this career path may have the opportunity to work in beautiful surroundings and with some very nice trail horses.
An equine journalist must, first of all, be a good writer and photographer. This career applies both equine and journalism studies. Equine journalists must know about equine anatomy, horsemanship and horse-related industries, and also focus on journalism and writing, public relations, feature writing, media ethics and best practices.
Rodeo announcers must know the rules of competition, the animals and facts about the people involved in a rodeo, including all the competitors. Like announcers for any event, they must be quick on their feet, witty and possess a clear, powerful voice.