Horse Jobs: The Unflinching RealityBy Jeffrey Rolo
Chances are most horse lovers have entertained thoughts of a horse career at one time or another when they were children, and while such childhood fantasies fade away by adulthood for most, some horse fans hold firmly to these wishes. In this article we'll take a closer look at horse jobs; what you should consider before pursuing one as well as some general advice that might help you land a desired equine job.
The main mistake many people seeking a horse job make is underestimating the rigors and negatives that can come with the profession. They love horses, so they feel that a job that allows them to work near horses all day must be a match made in heaven. Makes sense, right?
It's a natural assumption to make, but it also ignores the "dark side" of holding an equestrian job. Here are some considerations you should give thought to before racing for that job interview:
Horse Jobs Are Physically Demanding!
Are you sure you are ready for a physically demanding job? In the old days it was assumed that we would work farms, man factories or accept equally physically demanding jobs, but the world has changed over the last several decades. As America has shifted away from its agricultural and manufacturing roots, Americans have shifted towards customer service and/or office jobs.
The mindset of many modern workers has changed from the days of our fathers, and we may not be as satisfied taking on laborious horse jobs now that we are used to professions that engage the mind more than the body. Are you ready to get dirty and sweat all day? Every day?
If constant physical labor doesn't intimidate you then an equine job might be right up your alley, but don't underestimate the physical demands. There's a big difference between working up a fierce sweat for two hours in a gym and maintaining a steady pace all day long.
Are You Willing To Get Hurt?
None of us want to get hurt, but let's face it: some occupations are more hazardous than others. While I have been blessed to have never experienced a horse-related injury beyond a few scrapes or bruises, I fully understand that anytime I work near or with a horse that I could get hurt.
Although you can minimize your chances of getting seriously hurt by using caution, good practices and experience, the reality is most horsemen will experience significant injuries at some point or time. Are you willing to risk a broken bone? A nasty kick from a horse? Being tossed from a horse?
These are questions that all horse owners must consider, of course, but the reality is your chances of injury are increased when you work with unfamiliar horses fulltime. If you don't mind the potential for injury, a horse job may still be for you. Personally I understand that I could get injured driving a car, crossing a street, etc., so I don't mind the fact that a horse could accidentally or intentionally harm me. But if you're leery of elevated risks, it may be best to rethink an equine occupation.
The Payment Isn't Only Measured In Dollars
Depending on the region you live in and/or the stable's management, you may find that entry-level horse jobs don't pay a whole lot more than minimum wages – at least to start. In fact in many cases you might end up working as hard physically as a construction worker yet earning almost half of their hourly wages!
In other words, unless someone has a passion for horses, chances are an equine-related job won't be too thrilling. Locally many of the stables have a difficult time keeping employees over the long-term; there's a lot of turnover among horse jobs.
The good news is that if you land a job in an ideal stable, or you work your way up to a more valued position (i.e., a horse trainer), you can start earning a decent income. But for the most part, working as a stable boy, lead trail rider, etc. may pay you significantly less than you'd like.
I wouldn't seek out an entry-level horse job unless you either love horses and wish to be around them, or you plan on "paying your dues" so that you can get promoted into a more prestigious and compensating position.
We've taken a look at a few of the cold realities concerning horse jobs in this article. If you still believe a horse job might be your dream job, be sure to read our follow-up article: Landing Horse Industry Jobs.