In this post we’re going to describe some of the career pathways available to those who seeking a career working with horses. While a love of horses is obviously a prerequisite, there are many which appeal to those with a keen interest in horses and equestrian sports but which do not require you to be a rider. We will cover those careers paths in another post.
A stable lad/lass (or hand) is responsible for some or even all aspects of the welfare of the stable owner’s horses, the care of the stables themselves or even both jobs. Their day-to-day jobs may include cleaning stables (mucking-out), feed, exercise and grooming the horses.
Starting pay is usually low and the job entails very early starts throughout the seasons, with long days at the stables. If you want a 9-5 job in a warm office then this is definitely not for you. There are some risks involved as you would be working with large animals with varying temperaments on a daily basis.
In large establishments there may be several stable hands under the management of a head groom. The head hand usually has complete responsibility for the horses including, but not limited to, creating training schedules, maintaining proper nutrition of the horses and ensuring the horses are shod, inoculated and given regular veterinary care.
Before applying to become a stable lad, you may want to acquire British Horse Society certificates or equivalent, which are offered to any interested in expanding their knowledge of horse care, training and management. Like any other job, prior knowledge of the interested field is a major plus on your CV. Experience aside, a love for horses, hard work and extreme patience is necessary to excel in this particular job.
A successful career as a groom takes experience and extensive knowledge of horses. Working as a groom can provide valuable experience including travel and the excitement of working with horses of varying breeds. Accommodation is often included with the role as you will probably be living very close to the stables. Consequently, if the groom is living on premises, they may be expected to be on call day and night. In addition to feeding, exercising, and cleaning horses grooms may be have to care for sick or injured animals, and this of course requires round the clock care and attention.
Grooms often work seven days a week, but the working week can be shorter – it all depends on the stables and the responsibilities that go with that particular employer. Grooms are primarily the carers for the horses; they feed and maintain horses and they take care of the stables, which obviously must be kept clean to provide the horse with a fresh, comfortable environment. Some of these basic tasks can be delegated to the stable hands, if there are any.
The job is physically demanding and requires dedication. It is not a particularly lucrative field financially but the rewards are many for those who wish to live and breath the equestrian life. Although there is no formal educational requirement for the position of a junior groom, you must have experience in caring for horses. You should also be a confident and competent rider.
Although most opportunities are usually found in rural areas there are many urban and city based stables too. As wells as riding schools, livery yards and stud farms also have vacancies from time to time. However, owners of thoroughbreds will expect much higher standards from their grooms that those of, for example, the local pony club.
To begin or develop your equestrian career as a groom there are numerous methods for gaining knowledge and experience. There is on the job training the form of apprenticeships, and distance learning courses for those studying in their spare time. You can study for certifications and other qualifications while you work with horses in another capacity.
Becoming a jockey requires single minded dedication. It’s a career that can start with mucking out on a dark winter’s morning and can end with accolades and all the rewards of fame and fortune. However, let’s be realistic; for all the famous jockeys there are many, many more who are working jockeys with big wins to their names, let alone an autobiography.
A jockey’s career will begin with caring for horses as well as riding them. With the right attitude, a good manager, and a bit of luck, the races will come. However, if this attracts you then you’re probably already well aware of the height and weight requirements, though these can vary depending upon where you take a job.
As far as skills are concerned, jockeys have to be proficient in competitive riding, which requires one to understand how to handle horses at speed, as well as the dynamics of horse racing.
Being a jockey is a job that’s based a lot on performance. Those who want to move up the ladder will need to shown a trend of improvement in their races at lower levels. No one expects a jockey to win every race but there should be a proven track record that demonstrates the ability to win and improve on those successes.
Opportunities for new jockeys are not common but if you start working in the equestrian industry in some capacity then you’re more likely to hear about the vacancies before they appear in the press. So start at the bottom at some racing stables. Once you show that you have the dedication, ambition, and competitive spirit then the opportunities will appear.
Though the economic downturn has hurt people who work in so called discretionary industries, there is still a market for a good horse riding instructor with the right experience and qualifications. For those looking to become a horse riding instructor, it is important to note that there are a few different ways to get involved. Some individuals get involved in the profession on an individual basis, as they take on private clients and advertise for themselves. Though this can be somewhat difficult to begin with, it can be lucrative for those with the right skill set and the ability to market their services.
In order to work as a riding instructor, one has to have an advanced knowledge of how to handle horses, as well as to the ability to teach. It requires both of these things, since simply understanding how to ride is not enough. Individuals have to be good enough at their craft to be able to instruct others in a manner that is clear and reasonable. For those who work as instructors for a livery yard, there may be some training involved. Individuals who offer instruction on a private basis arrange their own training.
In terms of experience required, it really depends upon the experience of those whom you intend to instruct. Obviously, the instructor’s skills and experience should exceed of the pupils. For those looking to instruct at an upper end of the spectrum then years, or even decades of experience are required. For those intending to teach novice riders then the requirement is going to be a lot less.
All instructors have to start somewhere with their instruction and regardless of the personal riding experience of the instructor, the methods used to teach, as well as the ability to get along with people of ages and temperaments, is something that is developed over time. And there are instructors who specialise in all kinds of disciplines; showjumping, racing, dressage, carriage driving, etc.