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Aspiring Equestrian Professional. Need advice!

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  • Aspiring Equestrian Professional. Need advice!

    Hey guys, I'm seeking the advice of those who are full time equestrian professionals.

    I am currently in high school and I am looking for some guidance as to how I can make my dream of working with horses a reality. For some background, I have been riding for ten-ish years and I am currently leasing a horse. I ride three times a week and take two lessons a week. I am looking to compete in my first event this season, but I've competed in hunter/jumpers in the past. I might inquire about a working student position with my trainer this summer and we'll see how that works out. I'm an honors student and my parents are pushing for me to go to college and are willing to pay my way through. I know that equine degrees aren't really worth the trouble, so I won't be going that route. Will balancing school with training be an issue? Should I just skip college and dive headfirst into riding?

    I was wondering what your stories are about how you chose horses as a career and how you got there. I am also looking for advice to shape my career path. I have no misconceptions of what the job will entail. I know it is hard work and I am willing to put in the hours. How to I make connections with future employers? What do I need to do to make this dream a reality?

    Thanks in advance

  • #2
    Go to college and in the summer work for pay for an excellent steeplechase trainer and then continue working there for a year after college. Then move back into eventing.

    In a good steeplechase barn you'll develop more balance more quickly than you will in any other riding job. You'll also learn excellent horse management skills and be paid for your efforts. And it's fun.

    Comment


    • #3
      If your parents are willing to pay for college....do it, even if you don't get an equine degree. It's always smart to have something to fall back on if the riding/training thing doesn't work out. Not trying to be pessimistic, but it's much harder to make a living with horses than you might think.

      Go be a working student for as many professionals as you can so you can get real-life experience in the industry, it might help you make an informed decision.
      No Trouble
      2/2/05 - 7/29/13
      Rest In Peace my quirky brave boy, I will love you forever.

      Comment


      • #4
        You might be a working student for the summer, then GO To College.

        If your folks are willing to put you through college, then please take them up on it.

        I believe that there are about 2% of riders who ever make it to be a BNT or BNR.

        What happens if you cannot find a job that provides healthcare? What about retirement? What happens when you get injured (and you will get injured at some point)?

        Are you willing to put in your "dues"? When you spend your days cleaning stalls, grooming horses, feeding and turning them in and out, your energy level does not leave much in your gas tank to ride.

        I was never sorry that I went to college.
        When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!

        Comment


        • #5
          Given what you stated you have done.....go to school.

          Honestly...the world out there is so big and horses can always be a part of it.

          I went to a 4 year school. I waited tables AND worked in a barn near school riding 5-7 days a week. I had a double major and graduated with honors. NOT everyone can handle that....I did still go out (once a week) but did miss out on some of the social fun of college because of my work load.

          I did horses full time for two years. Riding, grooming--working for fox hunters, eventers, and a top show jumper. Only regret I have was not working for a steeplechase trainer (was offered a job with a top one but also offered a job with a top SJ at the same time--and could only do one.) I was able to support myself....but will admit, it isn't something you get "rich" doing. I loved the work most of the time (ok, chipping ice and freezing in the winter wasn't much fun ). But I wasn't able to save...couldn't afford to compete etc.

          I learned a ton and do not regret that time. But I did choose to go back and get a law degree....earn my own $$$ and now own my own farm and competition horses. I rode and competed the entire time.

          There isn't a right or a wrong way to do things. You are VERY young right now....there are so many things out there and you have so many potential paths that you can not possibly even realize how many options you have right now.

          Go to school. Do well in school. Take a lot of different courses--I agree about not getting an equine science degree...but would recommend a good liberal arts degree. Take courses you have never thought of taking before and see what is out there. Keep riding and competing but make sure you experience a lot of other things now while you can before focusing on making a living with horses.

          Getting a job in the horse world is not hard at all....making enough $$ to support yourself, your own horses and compete....well that is another story.
          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jan. 24, 2012, 05:49 PM. Reason: typo
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

          Comment


          • #6
            There is a thread in the Hunter Jumper section that gives loads of advice and provides hours of entertainment as well. Also provides you with a model that you should be nothing like, the op.

            Its called begging to make something out of myself or something like that.
            I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

            Comment


            • #7
              What BFNE said. My experience is fairly similar, although I now board my horses, but ride regularly. I will tell you that as a client, there is some value to me in a trainer who has a college degree and some knowledge/experience outside horses, though it isn't necessarily a deciding factor.
              OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

              Comment


              • #8
                Ditto what others said about school. Just also wanted to add that there are many different ways to have a job in the horse world or that involves horses, but not necessarily being a trainer (for example, I work for an animal health organization surrounded by lots of vets, horse people, and sometimes my work is directly related to horses. Other people here have even more involvement with them). This is where college may help you figure things like that out (for example, if you like marketing or PR you could go into being a saddle fitter or something?)

                You may be surprised at how other experiences change your outlook (or, it may solidify what you originally wanted to do). I originally wanted to be a vet, but then realized I didn't like the owners enough, didn't like the hours, etc, and went and got a Ph.D. Now, I have the money to afford my horse and am not in debt due to school (I got a stipend and courses paid for, as most PhD programs offer), have a great job that I love still dealing with animals, and also a very flexible job that enables me to enjoy my horse time.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There is a thread very similiar to this on the H/J forum, go read it. and then have fun with the responses. This isn't a lifestyle that is easy. I actually sent the OP on that thread an invite to come here, and work, and learn, and train, and I got back a ...."well my parents are probably not going to be okay with me going to Ocala, just for a job". Be the exact opposite of that, and you might get somewhere, but mostly, just go to school. My daughter and I both have college, and it is still hard, better to go for something that you can do, OTHER then horses, and then do it for fun. Keep it fun.
                  May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.
                  www.mmceventing.com

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I think some of you may be misunderstanding me, so I'll clarify. I'm not looking to make it big or go to the Olympics (seems to be what the OP of the other post is looking for). Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome to go to a four star or go to the Olympics, but i'm not delusional and I do not possess the funds to do so. This isn't me asking for advice on how to make it big, I just want to know a good way to go about becoming a trainer or teacher.

                    So school is a yes, I'm assuming. That's the route I was planning to go. I live in close proximity to a great college that would probably be willing to accept me if I continue to work hard, so I could still probably train on the weekends.

                    I'm no dummy, I know it'll be hard work. I'm ready to do the grunt work and be the stall mucker for an opportunity to train with a great rider. Manual labor is nothing I'm a stranger to and I'm in good enough physical shape to handle the work load.

                    I would definitely move out of state or even out of the country for a job that would give me good experience. That sounds like something I would be all over!

                    Thanks for all the advice, so far! I really appreciate it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You really need to check out this blog post, it will make you chuckle and offer you some insight into what some other young people closer to your age have experienced

                      http://schrammequestrian.blogspot.co...onal-what.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Don't skip out on college-even if you are lucky enough to make riding full time work straight out of school, it still looks better to professional clients that you have the commitment and smarts to get yourself a degree, regardless of what it is in.

                        College gives you invaluable life experience, connections, and frankly a lot of fun and challenges that can't be had by diving just into the horse world. You will meet people and make friends that do other things besides ride and it's really good to have a diverse group of people that you know and interact with.

                        While I am not aspiring to ride professionally (though in getting used to my first post college job I sometimes wish I could ride all day instead of sitting at my desk), I wouldn't trade my college experience for anything. And really, I wouldn't get the equine science degree unless you really really want to, because if the riding thing doesn't work (you get hurt, etc) you have something in your background besides horses that could turn itself into a career as well.

                        I did take my horse to school and continued to ride. I did one event during the year during my time at school, mostly because that's what my parents agreed to in having my horse at school was that I wasn't going to try to compete much except for in the summer, but also in the midwest that let me compete in probably 2/3 of the season anyway. Having my horse at school was an added responsibility but it worked out great for me and kept me way less stressed than most of my friends because I had that outlet and release to go to every day

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by EventingTerry View Post
                          You really need to check out this blog post, it will make you chuckle and offer you some insight into what some other young people closer to your age have experienced

                          http://schrammequestrian.blogspot.co...onal-what.html
                          Thanks for sharing! That was a great read and it's given me more helpful insight

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ChinUpHeelsDown View Post
                            I think some of you may be misunderstanding me, so I'll clarify. I'm not looking to make it big or go to the Olympics (seems to be what the OP of the other post is looking for). Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome to go to a four star or go to the Olympics, but i'm not delusional and I do not possess the funds to do so. This isn't me asking for advice on how to make it big, I just want to know a good way to go about becoming a trainer or teacher.

                            So school is a yes, I'm assuming. That's the route I was planning to go. I live in close proximity to a great college that would probably be willing to accept me if I continue to work hard, so I could still probably train on the weekends.

                            I'm no dummy, I know it'll be hard work. I'm ready to do the grunt work and be the stall mucker for an opportunity to train with a great rider. Manual labor is nothing I'm a stranger to and I'm in good enough physical shape to handle the work load.

                            I would definitely move out of state or even out of the country for a job that would give me good experience. That sounds like something I would be all over!

                            Thanks for all the advice, so far! I really appreciate it.
                            You become a good teacher and trainer by being a good student.

                            You start by getting your education...but keep riding. Work every job you can...WATCH every lesson you can...every clinic (every level...even the beginners...in fact you can often learn the most watching the lowest levels). READ as much as you can...and think about it.

                            Then you work hard...you find the jobs you can do but you keep your eyes open. You learn from everyone...and you be OPEN to learn. Don't ever think you know it all.

                            Starting when I was 10...I worked any job I could find. At your age...I hot walked polo ponies, rode re-hab horses (did the walking and trotting legging them back up)....I muck stalls on the weekend...held horses for vets/farries. Learned how to braid...pull a mane. Volunteered to groom at any shows I could until I was good enough that people wanted to pay me.

                            The BIGGEST mistake I see in the current younger generations...is expecting to get paid---their expectations are not in line with the reality of what they are worth. Only when you have skills....should you expect to be paid and even then, if a job is giving you enough other benefits and opportunities...it may still be worth doing even if you are not paid what you are worth.

                            You put yourself out there....work hard...and doors will open. You meet people.....and create opportunities.

                            I rode all through school... I had friends who were good riders training with BNTs and I went with them to their lessons to learn (by watching). When I groomed, I watched warm-ups...walked courses...and listened.

                            You learn all the time....and now, when I am going to lessons to ride with my BNT....I take along that kid or YR in the barn who wants to learn.

                            If you want to learn to train and be a teacher....you watch and listen to the best teachers you can.

                            You can also teach and train without it being your only source of income. I know many people who do/did that ....even competing at a high level while working. That is what I meant...you have a lot of choices. I would suspect that you just need to become a more experienced rider. Then teach summer camp to beginners one summer...or up down lessons on the weekend when you are in school. Learn about training a green horse....train some green horses.

                            You may need to start by working a "normal" job and teach, train and learn during your off time. If you get really good...you build a business big enough to become your full time job.

                            Or you may find you have more passions in your life besides just horses. Nothing wrong with also loving your "normal" job that pays the bills

                            There are a lot of different ways to get there.
                            Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Jan. 24, 2012, 08:42 PM.
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm an honors student and my parents are pushing for me to go to college and are willing to pay my way through
                              Count your lucky stars that you have parents who have the means and the willingness to finance your education. Then take them up on it, with the gratitude such a gesture deserves, and do a bloody good job. More importantly, get your education and devote yourself to it. Learning to think critically, to discipline oneself, to be exposed to the great thinkers and the rigors of academia is NEVER a bad choice. NEVER. Especially if one can have this experience subsidized!

                              I worked 20-30 hours per week in college because my parents weren't able to do this for me, and still found time to have horses in my life, although not full time. Horses aren't going anywhere. You can ride in the summers, during breaks, and if you're the beneficiary of free tuition you won't have to work that much so you can become an indispensable helper to some lucky trainer near the college or university of your choice.

                              Are you sure that being a "trainer or teacher" is the only way to go? How about being a veterinarian, an expert in reproductive biology, a therapeutic riding expert, a farm manager, executive, or tutor to kids on the show circuit? There are PLENTY of ways to make a living around horses, without being a trainer or rider.
                              Click here before you buy.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                Are you sure that being a "trainer or teacher" is the only way to go? How about being a veterinarian, an expert in reproductive biology, a therapeutic riding expert, a farm manager, executive, or tutor to kids on the show circuit? There are PLENTY of ways to make a living around horses, without being a trainer or rider.
                                I thought about vet school long and hard. One of my closest friends is in vet school right now and it is just not for me haha. Training and teaching are just what's on my mind at the moment. When I get more experience and train with different people and work different jobs, I'll be able to make a decision on what exactly I want to do with horses.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Another option to look into is getting a year's deferment and being a working student. You will get a VERY good idea as to the life of a full time equine professional (and then some). If you survive that, and still think you can handle it, do what bfne suggests. Get a degree...it won't hurt, and it will certainly help (coming from someone who does NOT have one, and tends to feel that college is not for everyone. I HATED being a traditional student and could not bare spending 4 more years as one...and I was actually a very GOOD student).

                                  Be sure you understand what being a full time equine professional means. Most kids think it is all fluff and glory, but it is not a profession for the faint of heart! I manage a VERY busy boarding operation. I have a love/hate relationship with my job (I really do love it, but there are days where it feels like complete drudgery). I work 6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day (not including night check, which my employers are wonderful enough to help with). I am very lucky to have a VERY nice job with very good compensation and decent pay (my horse and I both have very nice housing , among other things). I am lucky to have a job where I am encouraged to compete (this is a new job for me, and one of the selling points for me, I think, was that I am an experienced and avid competitor). I LOVE the horses (I am so happy I can still say that as I enter my 10th year as a full time professional), and most of the time I adore my clients. But it is HARD WORK, and very, very demanding. I am exhausted at the end of the day, and I am usually so tired, my pay check sits in my wallet for 4 or 5 days before I get up the energy to go to the bank! (Very good for my bank account, though, since I'm also too tired to go anywhere and spend it!). But I love it, and it makes me happy.

                                  Doing a year as a working student is a good way to get a handle on what a life in the horse business entails. I strongly urge you to go AWAY. Go somewhere where you will not have family support easily accessible, so you get a very good idea what doing this full time really means. It is a rewarding and often very fun job, but it is exhausting, as well, and can be very, very mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. It isn't for everyone, and it isn't how you'll get rich. But, if you truly enjoy it, it can be a great way to spend your life.
                                  Amanda

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OP, I know exactly how you feel.

                                    When I was in your shoes at that time period in my life, I wanted nothing more to go S. IL Univ and get my BS in Equine Science. I ended up not, for several reasons, and often I wonder how my life would have turned out otherwise. Sometimes I regret it, but only for a milisecond because by attending a different college, I met my DH, some awesome friends, and gained a WORLD of experience managing a barn while in school.

                                    I let horses outweigh school, and because of that I am STILL working on my BA, something I should have finished three years ago. I took a semester off here, there, and once an entire year, and found it harder and harder to go back. Go to college, and find a working student position during the summer. Find a college with an equestrian team so you can gain very valuable (IMO) show experience that is completely different than anything you've competed in before. I helped start my school's team, but because I took a semester off I never got the chance to compete, but did attend shows as an aid.

                                    I've learned the hard way that a degree is an expensive piece of paper that makes your life hell for a few years, but essentially is required to get any decent paying job. I am trying to break into the professional equestrian world, and it is HARD, even when you have 10+ (or 18+) years under your belt. There is always someone better than you, and you have to realize that. And its okay! That means you have someone to look up to!!

                                    Get your degree, and work hard at it so you don't have to go longer than necessary. Find working student jobs, volunteer at a therapeutic riding facility, anything to gain experience. Major in something that could benefit you in the future, even if you do go pro. Think, financing, or business management.

                                    Best of luck to you! But please, get your degree. I wasted a lot of time and money (loans, parents money, and my own) by not finishing in a timely manner, and there would have been more opportunities for me if I had. If you have a working student opportunity in another state, go for it! Go after everything you can...just get that damn paper!
                                    runnjump86 Instagram

                                    Horse Junkies United guest blogger

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Go to college. I wish I would have, and I am a pro at the bottom level. I love teaching though, and greatly enjoy the luxury of my own farm and students.

                                      If I could do it over...I would ride more horses, good and bad. I rode plenty of problem horses....but I would have found a way to get on good and great ones too. You learn from them all. LEARN how to properly groundwork and start them, from trailer loading to clipping...to backing to hacking. Get as many as possible under your belt. The first 2 years can make or break a horse, learn how to do it well!

                                      Get a program together from start to finish. Knowing how to take a youngster to a medium level is better than knowing how to get a medium level horse to an upper level. The whole process makes more sense when you know how to get there from the start. Many more people will seek your advice that need basic help over upper level help. I have had to, " find the joy" in my starter students....as there are many more of them that my upper level ones.

                                      Take any opp. in the horse business as a learning experience. I rode polo ponies, eventers, greenies, problem horses, and had standardbreds....I learned from everyone of them. I worked for the best, and even if it is how to rake a dirt lot well, someday if you have your own place, it teaches you how to take care of it. I do not have an employee at my farm. I cannot afford one. Its all me, everyday. I groom, I muck stalls, I ride, I teach....I would love to have a higher paying job with less hours and more benefits. Sometimes my horse sits while I ride someone elses. I am also my own boss, and have found happiness in a life pursuit. I found an area I am useful in and I am fullfilling it.

                                      I also have a family. I would never give up my family for my business and farm. The horses are my passion, but I try to keep it in balance with my life. Good Luck, and work hard!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Definitely go to college and further your education first.

                                        When I was straight out of school I really wanted to forge a career in horses. Went to an Equine College, did a year out working at different horse places - then after finishing my studies there, realised 'good' horse jobs are hard to find...and that I really didn't want to work with other people's horses, as it left no time for my own!

                                        I then went on to do a Science degree (Agriculture based) and have been employed in this field for the past 8 years. I now have my own acreage, a small team of event horses, have competed up to 1* level (after 20 years of riding/training) and am now FINALLY in the process of training to be a riding coach/trainer with a view to setting up my own business. I teach at Pony Club for fun and really enjoy it - this is what prompted me to explore this as a career.

                                        Initially I hope to teach part time and then if successful, will go full time. I think in the early days when testing the water, having the back up of a 'bread and butter' job is important.

                                        I'm really happy now with my career direction and excited about the future. One of my big goals has always been to work for myself from home and it is now so close to being reality. I have also used all of my college education - so my parent's contribution has not been wasted by any stretch! I enjoy competing, but realistically can see I am not likely to be an Olympic contender...that's ok! I just want to do something I enjoy doing. To me, teaching riding (even to beginners) would not be a 'job' because it is something I am passionate about.
                                        www.thehaybale.blogspot.com.au

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