Want to make working with horses part of your career? You might want to consider becoming a horse trainer. These people are very well respected in their local communities, and it’s not too hard to enter the trade. Below are three paths people can take to train horses professionally:
1. Find a school
Some two- and four-year colleges offer degrees in horse care and science. While these are not veterinary programs, they do provide information on horse health and behavior. Students also have the opportunity to learn riding skills based on the particular styles they choose, in addition to judging and facility management.
Opinions are split on the benefits of attending a college to become a horse trainer. Kevin Meyer of Mantz Creek Horses told America’s Horse Daily that while he believes programs do a good job of teaching basic skills, they can’t prepare students for the real-world challenges of training horses.
“When I was hiring people for Wagonhound, if I saw a certain college on their application, then I knew what I was getting,” he told the publication.
On the other hand, two-time National Reining Horse Association Futurity Champion Clark Bradley believes colleges are absolutely beneficial. He recommends students minor or take electives in fields like accounting, management or education. In his experience, many trainers fail because they don’t understand how to run a business.
J.J. Rydberg, horse training and management program manager at Lamar Community College, pointed out another benefit of attending school.
“You get a degree, which is never a bad thing; it’s something that no one can go and take away from you,” he told America’s Horse Daily. Even if students don’t get a horse-related job immediately out of college, they can apply for other positions that require a bachelor’s or associates degree.
2. Try a certification program
If you don’t want to make a commitment of at least two years, look up local certification programs in your area. Despite the fact that they run between $700 and $900 per course, they’re overall much cheaper than obtaining a degree. In addition, certification programs are limited to the topic at hand. Students don’t have to spend time taking general education courses like they do at college.
The Certified Horsemanship Association details what skills members need to master. It also has a list of upcoming certifications based on your interests – whether you want to become a trail guide, a facility manager, a trainer or something else.
3. Study under a trainer
Some trainers offer to help students themselves, either for a fee or in exchange for help with the horses. This is the most flexible option, and trainers and students can coordinate schedules, payment and lessons as they wish. It’s also good for people whose lack of equine experience prevents them from taking a certification class or applying to a school.
However, this will probably be the most difficult path in terms of finding a reliable teacher. Individuals are less likely to have online testimonials from other students, so be sure to ask your local horse community for recommendations.
Whichever path you choose, be sure to do your research and find a program that suits your ambitions. With the right studies and skills, you can have the career you’ve dreamed of.