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Advantages of Being a Horse Trainer

It’s early morning (or late at night!). The sun is still a few hours from rising as you walk towards the stables.  You can hear the horses stirring and smell the hay. You stop to stroke the bay’s neck and hear the black mare whinny a welcome.  What could be better?

You love horses and you want to be a horse trainer. Being a horse lover is the primary qualification for being a trainer. Plus, depending on what type of training you want to do, you may have to be certified.  

Satisfaction of the Job

What does a horse trainer do?  It depends on the industry and the size of the operation, but part of your job is being responsible for the horses under your care.  If you love spending time with horses, you’ll love being a horse trainer.

Most horse trainers are responsible for:

  • carrying out practical tasks such as saddling, feeding and grooming horses
  • planning and carrying out training programs for horses
  • planning and overseeing nutritional plans for horses
  • monitoring the health of the horses
  • consulting with experts on injuries and ailments
  • advising and consulting with horse owners
  • keeping accurate records.

If you plan to train horses for racing, you will:

  • accustom horses to racing equipment 
  • support the training of apprentice jockeys, drivers and track riders 
  • supervise and direct stable staff, jockeys, harness drivers and other workers
  • plan and select race programs to achieve the best placing for a horse
  • attend race meetings or other horse-related events.

These duties are in addition to the list of standard horse training responsibilities.  The best reward for doing the job is the satisfaction of educating a horse to perform well.

The Qualifications

“This is an industry where you don’t need a formal education to be successful,” says Mark Newnham, a successful trainer. “You need to love what you are doing and for the first few years keep your eyes open and your mouth shut unless you’re asking a question. Observe what successful people do.”

Although formal training is not required, a four-year degree in ‘Equine Management’ or ‘Equine Science’ is an option. If you do consider a four-year degree, make sure the program includes courses on:

  • Equine behaviour
  • Horse riding
  • Nutrition
  • Horse husbandry
  • Horse health
  • Stable routines.

Depending on the type of horse training, you may require certifications or licenses.

  • The racing industry requires a training license.
  • Breaking horses to saddle does not require any qualifications, although you do need a license to train.
  • Training horses for dressage requires knowledge of the Equestrian Australian (EA) rules and regulations.

No matter the requirements, the best proof of your training ability is the horse.

Working with Horses

To be a successful horse trainer, you should have the following personality traits that enable you to work with the horse and its owner.

  • Endless patience.  You will need the patience to work with horses, but if you want to be a trainer, you already know that.  You will also need patience for the horse’s owner. It is not always easy for an owner to hear or agree to an unexpected plan for the horse.
  • Empathy for horses.  You already have empathy for horses. The more you work with them, the more attuned you will become.  It is essential that you can intuit what the horse needs.
  • Ability to communicate.  Being able to communicate effectively goes along with the patience to explain your reasoning and plans for a horse. It will make you a more valuable trainer if you can communicate your vision for the horse.

Learning the personality of each horse and sharing that with a horse’s owner are some of the rewards of being a horse trainer.

Returning to Nature

Horse training is a physically demanding job. Training a horse requires running, bending, climbing, and jumping. That’s in addition to riding. Horses need exercise, feeding, and grooming. Feeding may include lifting heavy hay bales or feed bags. Grooming is not just the brushing; it also involves washing a horse after he has cooled down from exercising. If you choose to work in the racing industry, long days should be expected.

Non-racing stables or independent horse trainers have more flexible schedules, but they still have a set routine for exercising, feeding, and caring for the horses.  Sometimes, you may work in adverse weather conditions. Working conditions are the hardest part of horse training, but it is offset by watching magnificent animals. 

As Jeffrey Rolo, a horse trainer, comments, “I do find that working with horses (or even just sitting back and watching them) brings me a peace of mind that is often desperately needed. Today’s lifestyles are just so hectic and stressful that the return to nature helps balance me and clear the mind.” 

The Opportunities

Horse training is considered a growth industry, according to The Good Universities Guide. At present, the vast majority of horse trainers are female, with less than 30% male. The majority of employed horse trainers (A little less than 60%) are between the ages of 25 and 54.  

New South Wales and Victoria are the two states that employ the most horse trainers, followed by Queensland and Western Australia. Horse training is considered to be a medium to long-term skill with definite employment opportunities. Unemployment for horse trainers is expected to remain at or below average for the next five years.

As you start towards your goal to be a horse trainer or maybe even own a horse training business, don’t forget to think about your superannuation. Contact us for information on how we can help you plan for the future.