And no matter how much you show yourself, if you want to have good customer base, you need to have the skills to train and show many horses, of all attitudes and abilities. Plus good business skills for that matter.
The networks developed by going to college can be invaluable, particularly for someone that doesn't come from background in horses, where they showed at higher levels.
And can also help weed out what disciplines one is interested in, as Western, H/J, Saddleseat and Dressage are all available.
Focus can be on training horses, riding instruction, barn management, or specialize in broodmare/foals. Last time I looked, I think Lexington had 30+ programs, from AA to PhD.
Thanks for the reply and the suggestions of programs :)
I say go to school for something other then horses! Teaching, nurse, become a police officer or whatever floats your boat for a few reasons.
1. Turning a hobby into a job is the fastest way to ruin something that should be enjoyable. I work right now at a barn teaching, managing, riding/training new horses, and the whole 9 yards! There are days when I just DON'T want to get up and teach X amount of lessons, ride the spook and spinner, make schedules and tell people what to do. I just want to ENJOY being at the barn, not turn it into something I MUST do.
2. Every single local trainer I come upon is just "getting by". It really not a salary you can raise a family on or support your hobbies (ie, your horse). Get ready for LONG hours in the cold/heat working for CRAZY "horse people" with an equally crazy horse.
3. Injury, whether it's over time (arthritis) or something acute (leg fracture) or even a psychological thing (very bad accident). Whatever the circumstances are, what if you cannot work any longer?
You can still be a horse trainer and a riding instructor, but I wouldn't recommend it as a main source of income. I'm in nursing school now and one of my goals is to do a little training and instructing on the side. I really enjoy teaching and riding, but I never want to feel like my hobby is something I HAVE to do. It totally sucks the fun right out of something to be enjoyed.
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Yeah, I see where you're coming from for sure. I'm taking some classes in psychology and counseling next year so I'm going to see where that takes me as well. I could always pick one (or both) and then I'd have something else to fall back on if the thing I picked didn't work out or whatever.
Originally Posted by albertaeventer View Post
If you really want to train/coach, I would get a good job that is decent paying and flexible, then train or coach on the side. Like many already said, it is very difficult to make a living in the horse industry. There are several informative threads over in the Equine Careers and Education forum if you haven't checked those out yet.
I wouldn't recommend going to college university for equine stuff unless you have a LOT of money and a few years to burn. Everything learned there can be obtained through an internship or working students placements, and in all honesty you don't really come out any farther ahead compared to the next person.
I've done both sides of what you want to do, I've trained and coached. Training was great, if it could stay just me and the horse, I would probably still be doing it. You have to be excellent at dealing with people and really love it though, and that's where I lack, I am great with people when I want to be, but I just don't really want to put in that effort, the customer service side is not my thing. And good trainers will train the horses AND the riders. Coaching I really enjoyed, but I enjoy just going to the barn and riding my horse more, on my own time. I don't want to be stuck there working and answering to others, I found that doesn't really work for me, and even with the money it wasn't worth it to me. I THOUGHT that's what I wanted to do with my life 10 years ago, training and coaching, and I got an equine science degree and put in a good effort for about 8 years, but things change. It wasn't fun anymore, and working for not much pay was taking it's toll on me, I was barely making enough to scrape by. Getting a newer car or saving for a house was not doable at all on that wage. Training and coaching are 2 things I could fall back on anytime if I wanted to get back into the industry, part or full time, someday that might happen, but right now that's not what I want to do. I want to have fun and enjoy my time at the barn and with my horses. I want things to be on my terms.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a backup plan if the horse thing doesn't pan out. You might get sick/hurt, lose interest or just decide to try something different later on, you really never do know! I sure wish I had planned ahead better!! It's absolutely crucial to have a backup plan, I can not stress that enough. I was stuck working minimum wage jobs after I got out of the horse industry, because my equine science degree doesn't transfer over to anything else. And neither will coaching/training/working in a barn translate over on a resume. Something to keep in mind. I ended up having to go back to school before I could break into a different career, and had I planned better from the start I would have accounted for something like this down the road. You could get a degree, then try the training/coaching thing, if it doesn't pan out at least you have your degree to fall back on. Or do training/coaching on the side, lots of options for sure. But don't limit yourself, as no one knows what will happen in the future!
Good luck with whatever you decide to do:)
Thanks for sharing your experiences, it's much appreciated
I did the start from the bottom and worked my way up. Rode everything anybody would put me on, listened to anyone who wanted to teach me something. Got a job at a barn cleaning stalls and feeding, moved up to exercising the lesson horses. Then helped with riding the show horses, then training. Long hours, hard a$$ work. But at the time I loved it.
Moved to a different barn training my own clientel, starting colts, dealing with problems. Got used and abused so to speak. Burned out fast. I went from loving it to hating it. Dealing with people, having to get on bronky colts. Now I don't train anything but my own. And I am finally starting to like riding again. Its a hard way to barely make a living. But it has its moments
Id work with a trainer like your doing and work up from their. People will get to know you through others. Word of mouth is a big thing in the horse industry, it will make or break you. Posted via Mobile Device
Sounds like you had a great experience! I'm going to talk to my coach next time we have a good conversation about if she knows any trainers I could follow around. She knows almost every horse person in our area so she'd have a lot of people that I could talk to. So I might follow someone around for a while and see. That'd get me more of an idea of what I'm thinking about.
To the OP: I could not agree more with everything SlideStop said! I tried to be a trainer for a while in my late teens early 20's, I went about it all wrong, and I had to quit because I made one mistake and ended up breaking my arm(instead of the horse). That break cost $5,000 in medical bills, I did not have insurance. I couldn't work while healing, it was financially devastating, if my parents hadn't supported me during that time I'm not sure what I would have done. After my arm had mended I discovered how emotionally devastating it had been, I had lost all of my confidence in riding. I kept working with horses, barn managing at a show barn, but I quit riding completely for 2 years, and still have confidence issues when riding, ten years later.
During the years working at the show barns I seen the other things Slide mentioned. The trainers would actually hate certain horses, and yet have to ride them anyway, which usually ended badly for the horse. A lot of the students and riders were major divas causing big headaches, fights, meltdowns, ect. All of which the lead trainer would have to deal with. The icing on the cake was that the students and boarders were often late or behind with payments and would regularly argue to get their bills reduced. The second trainer I worked for was extremely talented, had TONS of experience, and still barely made ends meet, with the help of her husband's veterinary practice.
If you think that training really is your calling, I stand by what everyone has said here about getting horse experience of every kind possible, showing, classroom, riding apprenticing, barn managing, anything you can do with a horse. It may seem like a dream job, but it can also be a nightmare, consider it carefully before you make any final decisions, and life changes,your dream can change too.
Yeah I get where you're coming from for sure. I have had my eye on having something to do with psychology for a while and people have told me I should be a counselor so I'm thinking I'll study equine stuff and psychology and something I'm sure will ring in my ear or I'll find something that isn't either, who knows! I have a LOT of time to figure it out since I'm not even graduated yet so lol
I'm going to be taking a riding course very soon and I'll be taking psychology classes next year so that'll also help me I'm thinking :)
Thanks for all the replies everyone!!