Teen horse lover and newbie - questions about riding and a future in horses! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Jan1975 View Post
You are certainly not too old, and you definitely could start showing competitively at some point. There is an equestrian college about an hour from me, and there are a few different majors. I think the best thing to do would be to go tour one! Someone I know is going for some type of equine therapy...not massage therapy, but something different. It sounds like it could be a lucrative career, and also not something you'd have to know a lot about riding previously to do.
I know a couple equine therapists. It is not a particularly lucrative career, and in many cases it is hard dirty physical work. Rewarding, sure. Here's the thing: if you are not a business owner (like a boarding barn or riding school owner) or a full time employee of same, you are an independent contractor. That means no job security no overtime no benefits bad or no health insurance and in an economic downturn, you are in a luxury business that will one of the very first things that people will cut out of their budget. Great to get into when you have a second income from a spouse or a trust fund or something.

Something that very few people considering a horse career take into account is that the horses are not the challenge nearly so much as their owners. You have to be able to day in day out deal with people who stiff you on payments, are chronically late, cause all their horses' problems but won't change, make irrational or cruel decisions you can do nothing about, and are just plain nasty and/or stupid. That's your clientele, not the horses. Horses don't have wallets. Think about that!

Sorry, just being the hard-headed cold water bath of reality person here.

Short horse lover
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post #12 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 11:49 AM
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If you want a career with horses that will allow you a reasonable standard of living, you're choices are pretty slim such as veterinarian, equine attorney (which is becoming a lucrative area even though we now have a surplus of lawyers), vet assistant (which won't pay as well but tends to be steady work often with benefits), equine chiropractor. The reality is that it's better to find a profession that pays well with high demand for employees so you can afford the luxury of horses.
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post #13 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 01:22 PM
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You are certainly not too old to lesson! Different age groups get different experiences in the saddle, and different enjoyment as well. Just know that there's going to be people younger than you who are further along, and sometimes these kids can be real pills to deal with. Don't let them discourage you as riding really is a personal journey where you can focus on self-betterment, in all aspects.

Showing is a really different topic. Depending on your area, you might need full ownership or a lease to show a horse. Some barns will allow their students to use lesson horses, or they will hold their own mock-up shows. You might consider looking for a lesson barn that has a focus on showing as they might be the most accomodating toward your goals - but do your research first. You'll want a place that balances showmanship, integrity and proper horsecare to teach you all of the ropes. There's more to horses than just riding.

In regards to the education, tread carefully. As others have said, it's not a very lucrative industry that depends upon other people's financial prosperity. There's actually a lot of professions (equine nutritionalist, breeding specialist, hippotherapy or equine assisted therapy instructor, barn manager, amongst what's been mentioned) but the equine world is a competitive one with a lot of people vying for those positions. You could spend a lot of money getting an education that doesn't serve you. I know three people who did just this and now have jobs outside of the industry.
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post #14 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 02:50 PM
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OP, please read Avna & Prairie's posts and take them to heart when it comes to picking a career. I was one of those horse crazy girls who thought equine college would be the perfect fit. In reality, it turned out to be a huge waste of time and money. I ended up quitting and going into accounting so that I could actually make real money and enough to own horses.

It didn't take long to find out that virtually none of the people majoring in Equine Science were getting jobs working with horses unless you wanted to follow the NY, KY, FL racetrack set, work as groom/stall cleaner and live in your car! I will admit that I learned a lot there but it is the fact that horse people will sneer at you if you mention that you have an equine degree.

Find a local show barn that will give you lessons and the kind that routinely takes their students to shows. It won't be cheap but it's a whole lot less than owning and then coming up with the money to show too. I'd strongly suggest private lessons instead of group since you have a competitive spirit.
You are never too old to learn!!
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post #15 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 03:25 PM
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I'll just comment on the Equine College, the rest has been well answered.

The answer in my opinion is, it depends.

The problem with many of these careers is well put by my Farrier. His clients are mostly people pretty serious about training and showing. For every one of those there are 50 people who trim and shoe their own horses or have their neighbor or a friend do it. That isn't uncommon with any equine specialty.

Now if you go to a very serious breeding operation where they are managing semen, harvesting eggs and managing host mares and all that kind of high tech stuff, I bet a degree of some kind becomes important.

This is a long way of saying Veterinary medicine is probably the best route to go along with specializing in a field and picking really dense horse country to move to.
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Last edited by jgnmoose; 09-23-2016 at 03:32 PM.
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post #16 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 06:23 PM
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I'm not sure why you would think 18 is too old to learn to ride. Thinking like that will inhibit your learning process in anything. If you want to, do it!
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post #17 of 23 Old 09-23-2016, 10:20 PM
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After thinking more, I had a little more input for you. There are some points I'd like to bring up.

First and foremost, the horse world is a very physical one. Any position you get that requires you being active would be heavily impacted if you're involved in an accident that disables you, even for a temporary length of time. Whether you're hurt or not, life goes on and horses need care. If you're out of the game, someone's going to need to fill in your shoes. It's a lot like if you were planning on figure skating (or any sport) as a source of income. If something happens, you need a fall-back plan that can still provide for yourself and your family - one that you can practically do if you've been hurt. It doesn't necessarily have to be a tragic loss of limb or paralyzation, either. Something as simple as injuring your knee or back and needing surgery or time off will impact the job. And this is where you have to be practical and level-headed. If it's a choice of your back and ability to walk or riding a horse, you need to choose your health first. It sucks. I speak from real experience. But to keep riding and further damage yourself is beyond silly and very unrealistic. I'm in no way saying you would do this - but instead giving you an example of what could happen.

Secondly, even though it is never too late to start a journey in horses and riding, there ARE people out there who have been involved longer than you. If you want to become a... Trainer, for example, and focus on trouble horses, you'll be in direct competition with people who have been at it longer and have more hours and time in the saddle. Most folks will want someone more seasoned. Same for lesson instructors, chiropractors, vets and so on. You're going to want to accumulate saddle and riding time, as well as horse experience, over several years, both for your knowledge and your 'resume' so to speak.

In regards to a "formal education" and being careful, I know a person who went to the CSU equine program, a really fancy school in Colorado. Prior to schooling there, she had established a decent training-client base and provided frequent lessons to a pretty reliable group of kids. She had been in the saddle since she was six, trained sane and rational horses and worked well with almost all learning styles. She got the bachelors degree, hoping to one day start her own training/lesson barn.

Then she hurt her back. She couldn't keep up with the green horses, so she lost a lot of clients.
Then she got pregnant, lessons fell by the wayside as she suddenly needed a more stable and secure job. Luckily she had gotten a Masters in business, was able to land herself a less physical job with enough salary to own two of her own horses with no need to sell lessons or training to help support them. She is now expecting her second kid, and is mich happier, even though she's still paying the student loans for the equine education and went really far into debt, only to still have a "boring/desk" job.

With these things being said, I'd really suggest pursuing horses and competing them as a hobby first while setting yourself up for a financially successful future in other ways. Being in and around the industry will help you put your feelers out there and get a solid idea of what you are actually and realistically interested in. You might, after a few months, decide you actually hate showing. Or maybe you're interested in Western riding after all. The fact is, with as new as you are to it, there's a whole lot you don't really know and that's ok! Take this time to learn and build muscle, enjoy yourself and have fun!
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post #18 of 23 Old 09-24-2016, 09:46 AM
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TwoTap has done all your homework for you and offers excellent advice and insight.

My instructor, who is only 21, was intending to pursue some kind of career in the equine field. She went to an Equine Studies program at a college in Minnesota for her freshman year. She realized, during the program, that there was a very slim chance she could ever financially support herself in the equine field so she changed majors. She intends to continue giving lessons and training on the side as a hobby while having a "day job".

There is a riding barn in my area that specializes in teaching seniors (over 60) to ride, including jumping. Whoever gave you the idea that one can only learn to ride when a child is wrong, wrong, wrong.
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post #19 of 23 Old 09-24-2016, 11:44 AM
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As a kid, I always wanted to have a career surrounded by horses. That didn't happen and I really am ok with that. It took me a long time to get back into them but that was my own fault and mindset. I have a decent paying job that allows me to have horses now and I am good with that too. Would I like more horse time? Sure I would, but the point is, without the job, there would be no horses at all.

Whether you have a career in horses or whether you do something else that provides enough for you to just have a horse or two, it still amounts to about 85% taking care of them and about 15% riding time and life gets in the way either way a lot of times.

As far as being to old, you are just getting started with your own life. Just get your foot in there and the rest will evolve. Start taking lessons again as you can afford it and go from there. Opportunities will open up.

There will be only one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.
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post #20 of 23 Old 09-24-2016, 12:56 PM
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You can learn to ride at any age. Showing depends on the level of skill you reach, but there are plenty of opportunities at the lower levels for adults starting out and there is no age limit for how long you can continue to compete. As for a career. . . .I agree with the other posts. I would suggest considering a different direction for your main source of income. I have my retirement income that is steady plus I manage a small barn. I don't make a lot as the manager because the barn doesn't make a lot, but I enjoy it. I can also teach, train horses, and trim hooves, but I can pick and choose these jobs because I am not depending on the income. I don't have to make concessions or deal with people I don't want to. I don't know much about the equine colleges except that I know that some of the graduates are either not finding jobs or are accepting jobs that pay less than expected. The other thing is that sometimes we can have too much of a "good" thing. Not everyone is enthusiastic about spending time with their own horse after spending a grueling 8 - 12 hr day dealing with other people's horses.
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beginner rider , equine college , newbie

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