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Career in Horse Training, Help wanted

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    Career in Horse Training, Help wanted

    Hey everyone! I am wanting to get started into horse training for a career but not sure where to start.
    a little background: I have been working with horses for over 11 years mostly on the trails. I did show jumping for a couple years but after a while I quit due to a multitude of bad experiences with trainers and my horses death. I stopped working with horses for about 2 years and got back into them this year. I realized I wanted to work and train horses for a living and do cutting and/or reining with my colt and mare. Most trainers in my area i have had bad experiences with, heard rumors about them being molesters, poor trainers/treat people and animals badly, etc (even if it's not true I dont want to be caught up in anything like that), or they arent willing to take a chance on me for the fact I am 18 years old, and also work a full time job in order to pay bills. I dont have the ability or money to relocate to a barn that would be willing to take me on so here I am, trying to figure out different ways of achieving my goals.

    My goals : improve my skills, go to school for natural horsemanship and business at western montana, get my name out there, and work my way up in becoming a good horse trainer until I have the ability to become a professional horse trainer.

    so my question for you guys is, what are some possible ways to go about this? What are some tips and suggestions you guys have? Dos and don'ts?
    one of my friends who is a breeder suggested getting auction horses and train them then resell.
    I was thinking about possibly trying to get into the TIP program as I enjoyed working with the mustang's I had in the past and feel I would enjoy the challenge again.
    I know people will most likely be more wary of me as I am mostly self taught, what would be a good way of going around that?

    I wont be starting any of this until 2021 or 2022, and not going to school for another few years as I need to save the money first, but I want to get started on a plan. Of course plans change, which is why I'm also wanting to hear multiple different ways that I can go about doing this on my own.

    thank you so much for any help and for reading my post!

    #2
    Do you want to train reining and/or cutting horses? As with any discipline, people will only hire you if they believe you can make their horse into a competitive, preferably winning, horse in that field. The only way to demonstrate that is to train multiple horses up to competition level and then win on them.

    The best way to get started on that is to find a trainer in your field that you like and respect, and go work for them. If you have burned your bridges with everyone locally you will need to find someone in another city or state, and save up the cash you need to move there. If you find that you dislike all the trainers in your discipline then you need to find another discipline.

    Nobody hires 18 year old self taught riders to train their horses. But some trainers will take a hard working 18 year old on as a working student.

    By and large equine studies programs don't lead to high level equestrian jobs. From everything I've read on COTH, you'd be better off doing a business degree in college, so you can set up your future business. And rely on your competition success to make a name for yourself that will make people ask you to train their horses.

    Honestly, the rescue horse pipeline is not a great place to find competitive competition horses for any discipline. Yes, every once in a while you might get lucky but by and large horses are given away free because no one is willing to buy them.

    However, good cutting and reining horses come from specific bloodlines with the conformation and athleticism to do the job. There is little chance you are going to get one free from a rescue that doesn't have physical issues or behaviour problems. Your best chance of getting access to quality horses is to work for a good trainer.

    Comment


      #3
      I agree you need to learn from a fantastic trainer and different horses. You will learn quicker on horses that are already trained.

      This will take a lot of money or a lot of work for very low pay.

      Why should someone take lessons or buy horses off an 18 yo who has mainly trail rode. They will think she did that, so can I. I am not paying her.
      It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
        Do you want to train reining and/or cutting horses? As with any discipline, people will only hire you if they believe you can make their horse into a competitive, preferably winning, horse in that field. The only way to demonstrate that is to train multiple horses up to competition level and then win on them.

        The best way to get started on that is to find a trainer in your field that you like and respect, and go work for them. If you have burned your bridges with everyone locally you will need to find someone in another city or state, and save up the cash you need to move there. If you find that you dislike all the trainers in your discipline then you need to find another discipline...
        Its not that I have burnt bridges, it's partly a lot i won't go near because of some stuff I heard, and I'd it happens to be true I'm not looking to get mixed up in it.. although ones I knew personally I did burn bridges with and others arent willing to take me on as a working student.

        I'm not looking to start training other people's horses right now, my mare is bred for reining and my colt doesn't come from much so not sure if he will make a good reiner or cow horse. There also arent a lot of reiners or cutters in my area that I can find which makes it a little harder. I will keep looking though and hopefully find someone eventually.

        Comment


          #5
          Absolutely go to school. However, spend your money on a degree that gets you a good job OUTSIDE of horses. I see a business degree was suggested up thread. Personally, I’d rather see a degree with a more specific career path. My favorite waitress has a business degree. Pick out what school subjects / skills come easily to you and find a profitable career path based on those skills.

          Some of my top picks are dentistry, engineering and real estate. Why? Because I see women in those careers with the funds and time to commit to upper level horse activities.

          Find you a trainer you admire and study, work, ride with them while you are in school.

          Save your pennies. Do not go broke trying to fix up every battered horse you find with “potential”.

          Try your hand at competitions in your chosen discipline. Don’t go broke doing this though. Life isn’t a sad country song about rodeo.

          Accept the reality that there isn’t any money in horses. The majority of trainers that are making it in the business either have family money or are dependent on wealthy sponsors or are barely making ends meet working 60 plus hours a week every week.

          After establishing your career and saving your pennies, become the wealthy sponsor or retire early and train ponies for fun!

          Best of luck!

          Comment


            #6
            Start going to school now, even if it's one night class at a time. Go on the Internet and learn about careers. Ask people you know who seem to be able to afford a balanced lifestyle (able to pay bills, save money, and have some time for outside interests) how they chose their careers. Don't even think of the horse training as a career, for now. You don't have a safety net. You do not want to end up homeless, with a broken leg and no health insurance, with a collection of project horses. Get a job that will give you health benefits and a defined career path for the future. After a few years, when you are supporting yourself somewhat comfortably, start working seriously with reputable trainers, go to clinics, learn from different disciplines. Then maybe take on a project horse. One at a time, start building a reputation for training. But for the next 10 years, focus on your own non-horse education and a more sustainable career.
            Last edited by SharonA; Sep. 24, 2020, 12:55 PM.

            Comment


              #7
              Actually very good advice about setting up in a solid nonhorse career. On first reading I missed the point that OP was a self taught trail rider who did a bit of beginner jumping, and hadn't actually done any Western performance riding at all, plus lives in an area with not much Western performance.

              ​​​​​​Riding is a sport (or group of sports), and like all sports you get to train and coach professionally after you have shown that you can excel in the sport. Like all sports (and indeed arts and music), generally the top performers are showing a lot of promise as teens and young adults. It's true that people don't age out of riding as fast as many other sports. But it's also true IME that you don't get many people successfully going pro who weren't well ahead of their peers as teens. There are junior riders your age competing nationally in the Western performance disciplines that you haven't even started learning yet. And these juniors are already embedded in stables and ranches.

              Now is a great time to start doing part time courses at community college that can be added towards an eventual diploma or degree. Right now many institutions are offering more online courses because of Covid 19 and you may find these easier to fit into your work schedule.



              Comment


                #8
                Everyone has given you great advice --one brief word of caution --I was at AECs with my daughter who was in upper level --as a show mom, I was cleaning tack or something with the other grooms, sitting on hay bales outside the stalls. A well-known rider/trainer/instructor sat down with us [so cool!] --even I recognized her. One of the other grooms asked why she wasn't competing --she had a bunch of students and horses there, but she herself was not riding. The trainer said, "Too expensive --I had to make a mortgage payment." ---my point is, that sometimes training isn't the life one thinks it will be.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Dear WhiskyNFire, just a note to echo what others have said, a non horse income is really nice if you want to work with horses. Note that trainers mostly deal with paying clients so customer service is key. It is hard to hear that you have burned bridges with trainers in the area already. Trainers work with a lot of people who may be less than reasonable about the horse - in any direction (too strict, too lenient, whatever) and you need to have the diplomacy to work with them if you want to be in the horse business.
                  Forward...go forward

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Go to school for a general business degree, with a focus on accounting and taxes. Because as a professional trainer you would be a small business owner, and you absolutely need to know how to run a business. And an accounting degree would let you find off-farm work pretty much anywhere you end up living, which will be essential in the early years of your career. You need the ability to find outside income to support yourself until you're more established, and a fall-back plan in case the pro trainer life turns out to not be what you'd hoped for.

                    If you can't relocate to where cutters/reiners are common, then work with a trainer in another discipline, and you can always transfer those skills you've learned to a new discipline later. Horse's brains are the same regardless what saddle they're wearing. It just seems weird to me that every single trainer in your area is somehow evil, a molester, etc. That probably isn't reality, and you may need to stop listening to gossip and evaluate them for yourself. Go in with your eyes open, and sever the relationship if you find that trainer actually is bad news. (And by all means, report them to the authorities if they're molesting minors!!) But until/unless you have first-hand knowledge about an incident, you should not spread/perpetuate those rumors. It would reflect poorly on you and will cost you future clients and / or mentors. No one wants to work with a gossip.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Yes, if your main desire is to ride your own nice horses, get a nonhorse career and be a relatively well funded amateur.

                      Trainers and coaches always have to put their own riding on the back burner to earn a living helping their paying clients. It's quite typical for a their own competition career to flat line or end once they become a trainer. For instance, in my world a hunter jumper coach can earn money taking young students to weekend shows at the 2 foot 6 or even crosspoles level (they charge day fees to supervise the students). Or they can spend money and lose out on lesson income by taking their own personal horses away for the weekend to the entirely different circuit that's 4 and 5 feet.

                      Generally the most they end up competing is sales projects or client horses that will support the junior lesson program.

                      That's why you want to get as far along in your own competition journey as possible before you start a training business. Your students will by definition be a solid rung below you, and your job will be making them happy.

                      Training horses professionally is not really about working with horses. It's about working with the people that own the horses, because you need to produce a horse that is safe and effective for that person, and teach them how to ride it.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by WhiskeyNFire View Post

                        My goals : improve my skills, go to school for natural horsemanship and business at western montana, get my name out there, and work my way up in becoming a good horse trainer until I have the ability to become a professional horse trainer.
                        As someone who went to a private college that offered multiple equestrian degrees, I HIGHLY recommend you prioritize the business degree over the horsemanship one. I did not major in my universities equestrian program, but I did take lessons all four years I was there as well as showed and joined the drill team. I can tell you first hand, that many of the majors may have learned more during their time in the program, but their riding and/or teaching skills did not improve much. A degree does not make a horseman/horsewoman. A business and or accounting degree will give you the tool kit to have a better shot at running a successful business. I can also tell you firsthand that many of the majors are not using their horse degrees professionally and quite frankly, many of them do not ride much anymore as they now have non-horsey jobs and families.

                        If you want to make a career out of this, I echo finding a trainer to work with and work your skills up through while getting your education. Again, echoing previous comments, you either have to have an established winning record yourself and/or your clients and/or work under those who do until you can get yourself established.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          You may want to do some market research.
                          You are in area that already has established trainers in the discipline you are interested in.

                          You will be fighting an uphill battle before you even get started.

                          I believe you already have a head start and just dont realize it.

                          Well mannered bomb proof trail horses are worth their weight in gold. More and more women with disposable income are looking for smaller, comfortable sane horses and ponies they can trail ride on and they are willing to pay for horses they know they can trust.

                          I believe Western shows still have trail horse classes and that is where you can demonstrate your skills in bringing along trail horses.

                          Of course you should pursue higher education but I'm not sure you will have enough hours in the day to study , work a job and train your horses .

                          good luck to you .

                          Certified Guacophobe

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                            Actually very good advice about setting up in a solid nonhorse career. On first reading I missed the point that OP was a self taught trail rider who did a bit of beginner jumping, and hadn't actually done any Western performance riding at all, plus lives in an area with not much Western performance.

                            ​​​​​​Riding is a sport (or group of sports), and like all sports you get to train and coach professionally after you have shown that you can excel in the sport. Like all sports (and indeed arts and music), generally the top performers are showing a lot of promise as teens and young adults. It's true that people don't age out of riding as fast as many other sports. But it's also true IME that you don't get many people successfully going pro who weren't well ahead of their peers as teens. There are junior riders your age competing nationally in the Western performance disciplines that you haven't even started learning yet. And these juniors are already embedded in stables and ranches.

                            Now is a great time to start doing part time courses at community college that can be added towards an eventual diploma or degree. Right now many institutions are offering more online courses because of Covid 19 and you may find these easier to fit into your work schedule.


                            This. I pay a trainer for a different sport, and the main reason is that he's on the podium....a lot. If he wasn't good at that sport, no one would pay him to train them to get better at that sport.

                            I would also not use the phrase "I've been working with horses for 11 years" if you're only 18. "I started riding when I was 9" is a much more honest description, and one that won't turn people off. No one really considers the experience of a 9 or 10 year old to be useful from a trainer's perspective, but longevity in any sport is good.

                            You will never regret having a degree that you don't go into huge debt for, but you might regret not getting a degree when it was relatively easy to do so (e.g. before you have a family, before you don't have time, etc.)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Yes, I often see young trainers without much on their CV saying things like "10 years experience riding" or " has been riding since she was 5."

                              The thing is, that's true of every single horse pro and of most good amateurs as well. I tend to scan these for concrete accomplishments. Generally people who have accomplishments lead with these, not with "Susie has always loved horses and was hooked since her first pony ride at age 4." Because that describes me, and if I'm going to pay someone they better know a lot more than me.

                              I also am leery btw of very local coaches who say they have "studied with" or "ridden with" Isabel Werth, Anky, Charlotte Dujardin etc. Or whoever. What this can only mean is rode in two days clinics or even audited them. Now if they were a working student for one of these folks for a few years, or in training with them, that would be a feather in their cap. It's a good thing in general to go to clinics, obviously. But a 2 day clinic (two lessons) is a very tiny influence, and too many disparate clinics just leads to confusion.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                OP, it’s clear you have a lot of energy, ambition and drive. I love that you’re thinking about your future and trying to map out ways to get where you want to go.

                                The other posters have made some very good points about thinking carefully about your goals. Working with horses and working in a more traditional job don’t have to be mutually exclusive — one frequently can use one to generate the cash for the other. Another path to think about is picking up professional skills to use in a horsey business — you can do the books for a barn, do the marketing for a dude ranch or riding camp, write or edit or design for a horse magazine. A modern rodeo or show needs website designers, event planners, and sales/development people to round up sponsors and keep them happy. If you already know how to speak “horse,” you’ll have a (ahem) leg up in any interview.

                                Please remember that soft skills are as important as hard ones. I’m worried about the way you’ve talked about having issues with so many different trainers; this is a great age to be absorbing and learning, and if you’re already burning bridges and writing people off based on rumors, you’re cutting yourself off from so much growth and development. Life is long and the horse world is small. Be humble and gracious. You’ll find that everyone else will get a lot smarter by the time you’re 24.

                                You don’t have to have all the answers yet. Keep moving forward and trying new things. Say yes to any horse opportunity that comes your way, and ask the older adults around you for advice and guidance. You’re at such an exciting time in your life! Enjoy it!

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Get an education in a field that will earn good money and have flexible hours so you will have time for lessons and competing. See what your community college offers. Nursing, plumbing, electrician, are fields that come to mind. Use some of your salary to get lessons with good trainers and to compete. Then, you can start training some horses and teaching a few lessons to earn a little money. It is hard to make a living with horses.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Lots of good advice here. I’ll just add that there are TONS of trainers “specializing in natural horsemanship”. When I was a teenager I also practiced natural horsemanship and thought I had some natural raw talent because I had mastered the art of chasing horses in circles. But when I moved away for college and started riding with better trainers, I realized that “natural horsemanship” is really just basic beginner stuff and honestly not rocket science. To be a “natural horsemanship” trainer you don’t really need a huge resume because there’s not really NH competitions. For this reason, everyone decides they’re a “NH trainer.” I kind of think of it like the low hanging fruit of horse training.

                                    Im not saying you’re not talented, I’m just saying natural horsemanship isn’t a unique enough skill set to make a career off of alone IMO. Also a lot of those NH practices are dying out/ evolving and people are moving towards a more empathetic approach.

                                    I understand that you want to make horses your whole life but there are ways of doing that without making it your career path. In your spare time you could compete and buy as many horses for yourself as you can afford or get into the breeding game or take on project horses all as an amateur as well. It’s also a misconception that all the elite wildly talented riders go on to be professionals and the rest of us are just lowly amateurs and we hobby ride on weekends. I know tons of ammys that are WAY more talented than some “trainers”.

                                    And you might be thinking to yourself “ok well I don’t need to make a lot of money I just want to love what I do.” Fair point and if you really feel that way go for it. BUT I honestly think the whole “Money will not buy you happiness” thing is not applicable to horse people. Money will buy you more horses, nice hay, horse property, vet bills, a truck and trailer, quality tack, etc. You may not care about living in a big house or driving a fancy car (lots of us don’t) but what about if your horse colics and you need to cough up 15k in the middle of the night to get the surgery to save it?

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by SharonA View Post
                                      Start going to school now, even if it's one night class at a time. Go on the Internet and learn about careers. Ask people you know who seem to be able to afford a balanced lifestyle (able to pay bills, save money, and have some time for outside interests) how they chose their careers. Don't even think of the horse training as a career, for now. You don't have a safety net. You do not want to end up homeless, with a broken leg and no health insurance, with a collection of project horses. Get a job that will give you health benefits and a defined career path for the future. After a few years, when you are supporting yourself somewhat comfortably, start working seriously with reputable trainers, go to clinics, learn from different disciplines. Then maybe take on a project horse. One at a time, start building a reputation for training. But for the next 10 years, focus on your own non-horse education and a more sustainable career.
                                      THIS!!! 1000xbillion times. Go to school, get a career that allows you to do the things with your horses that you want to do and then maybe then you can think about training other people's horses. Right now at your age you can either be a working student and with the right trainer you will learn a lot or with the wrong one be a crash test dummy and wind up injured with nowhere to go. While you are young and have a lot of enthusiasm, face it, you are young and have little experience. Think about this: if you could not train, what else would you like to do? Don't be like those old football players that never learned anything and when they got hurt or finally just played out, have nothing to fall back on.
                                      "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
                                      - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

                                      Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.

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