October 04, 2019 4 min read
The equestrian world has many opportunities for many different people. Not all hobbies can easily turn into lifestyles, let alone life long careers. Being an active member of the equestrian industry is much more involved than stamp collecting.
There are so many moving parts that act as a well-oiled machine to the equestrian industry, with many different opportunities and positions as a result. Pursuing an equine career can be daunting. Almost every equine career is long hours as well as physically and mentally exhausting.
Along with hard work comes huge rewards; although not always financial, a sense of accomplishment, as well as self-improvement and accountability, are all rewards that are reaped.
Determining what type of equine career would best suit you is dependent on your personality, acquired skills, type of hours you want to work and many other choices you as a worker will need to establish. Usually, when researching jobs in the equine industry, you’ll find a typical list of a few positions. These include veterinarians, grooms, professional riders, farriers, equine dentists, trainers, jockey and others. These positions vary in income, hours worked and specific skill set requirements.
Although these jobs will always need to be filled, there are also many other options as well!
An equine product sales representative could work for a multitude of company types. This includes veterinary pharmaceuticals, tack and riding apparel, nutraceuticals, stable building/renovation companies and many others. This career does not have a set requirement for education, but for selling products that are heavily science-based do usually suggest having a science degree. Salary packages heavily vary on how wide your territory is, the cost of your wares and commission percentages. This would be a great career for a “people person” or for someone who enjoys traveling and prefers to make their own schedule.
Equine massage therapists travel to different barns to serve sport horses in recovery and relaxation through massage therapy. Massage is known to improve blood circulation, which increases recovery rates and provides healing properties to spastic muscles. This is typically seen from poor saddle fit, inadequate warm ups, as well as a nice treat from back to back competitions. This is another career that would suit a person that enjoys traveling and making their own schedule. Salary would fully depend on your set prices and rates per hour of service. This is a hands-on job that would put you in front of a horse every working day, which is a huge plus!
Working off of the equine massage therapist, there are many other careers in the equine rehab realm such as water/hydrotherapy, treadmill operator, PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) technician and exerciser. All of these jobs require solid lameness evaluation skills, basic first aid skills and consistency with documentation of improvement. The salary package for this job would also heavily depend on the rates/hour you determine for the client.
No hoof, no horse! Very similar to farriers, equine podiatrists work with the equine hoof to manipulate growth and balance from a clinical perspective. Equine podiatrists are often given healthy salaries of 6 figures with extensive experience and high-end clientele. Similar to farriery, this job is physically demanding and requires working hands-on with horses of all ages and temperaments.
With the online shopping era upon us, quality tack shops can be diamonds in the rough. Tack shops offer unbiased advice on a vast variety of products and brands. It is a big undertaking to open up a shop, but can be very rewarding when helping other passionate equestrians find the perfect saddle, riding boots or helmet! Income can be variable depending on the target customer type and location.
A bloodstock agent is not a career in the equine industry that is typically thought of commonly. Bloodstock agents coordinate sales of breeding and racing stock as well as provide analytical advice for purchasing to buyers. There is no specific education requirements, although many connections in the thoroughbred and/or standardbred community are a must as well as extensive knowledge of conformation and statistics. Bloodstock agents typically see healthy incomes of anywhere from $40,000 to over $100,000 depending on network size and experience.
Yearling prep grooms get yearlings ready for sale. Yearlings need to look as tidy and fit as possible in order to get the best price. Prep includes extensive grooming and assisting with the exercise leading up to the sale. Skills needed are impeccable attention to detail and advanced horse handling skills. Yearlings can be finicky, jumpy and high energy. People with a calm personality and patience are most apt to excel and enjoy this position. Pay depends on the owner's cooperation and quality of stock. This is not generally a high-paying job and typically seasonal.
Experience in the equine industry is crucial to getting a job. With a few exceptions, most equine-related jobs do not have HR departments. It is usually the barn manager or owner hiring and trying to make the best decision possible on not much knowledge of candidates. This is why proven experience and solid references are so important when applying to equine positions. This is also for safety reasons as well; if you are working at a stallion barn with no stud handling experience, it would be very easy to get stuck in a dangerous situation.
Training, riding and gaining experience in the equine industry can come from many different areas. Experience can come from an equine degree from a college that offers hands-on experience. This is helpful when seeking a position with stallions, yearlings, and broodmares.
Joining a top competition and/or training barn as a working student or groom is also a good opportunity to see how the business dynamics play out when running a busy operation. This often comes with riding and training experience as well. Becoming a working student can strengthen one’s work ethic and give many networking possibilities.
Just like any other career, take the time to figure out what you like and your natural personality and strengths as an employee. There are many positions within the equine industry that you are needed for!
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