Farriers are often the saviours of the horse world, fitting shoes to correct orthopaedic issues and keeping hooves properly trimmed for equine foot health. Like veterinary medicine and equine dentistry, this profession requires an investment in education and equipment, but farriers travel to events like the Olympics and keep their own schedules, making this a desirable job. Farriers spend long hours on their feet, however, as well as a lot of time bent over a hoof stand. Like vets, they need to be able to handle horses of all temperaments. In the old days people learned farriery through apprenticeship, but nowadays most farriers go through rigorous training programmes to learn their trade.
Check out this Equestrian World video for more about training to become a farrier!
4. Bloodstock agent
Bloodstock agents track down sporthorses for breeders and owners, looking for horses from specific lines or with particular characteristics desired by prospective buyers. They often have encyclopaedic knowledge of pedigrees and a good sense of which matches will produce offspring in high demand.
Bloodstock agents may attend horse auctions, offer advice on breeding, and travel to see horses perform in competition, such as at three-day eventing shows and races. People in this profession usually work their way up the industry, often starting with a large breeder to learn more about bloodlines and conformation, or they may have been competitive riders. Networking is a key skill in this job.
5. Alternative health practitioner
Alternative equine health practitioners provide chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, and other complementary medicine services to horses to assist with recovery from injury and maintaining longevity . These careers are very much regulated by geography and in some locations must be performed by a licensed vet or under a vet’s supervision. For non-vet practitioners, these jobs afford a great opportunity to give hands-on care with a lower barrier to entry. There is still coursework and a practicum required, though. Some alternative health providers travel to elite competition, which is exciting, but day to day, there is generally a high amount of travel between stables. This is also a highly physical type of job with a risk of injury from kicks and bites.
Breeders own horses that they reproduce for their own sport use or for sale. There is an enormous range within this profession, from breeders with small operations who produce just a few foals each year to corporate breeders with massive stables. Generally, breeders focus on one breed or breeds that are similar or likely to be crossed together.
Many breeders are attracted to the field because they have a passion for a certain type of horse and like to see those characteristics handed down in future equine generations. Some like to have control over the horses they use in competition, such as those competing in Driving. This is typically a profession for more mature individuals because it requires a monetary investment; people interested in becoming a horse breeder should investigate positions like breeding manager (see below) to learn more about the field.
7. Breeding manager
Breeding managers work for the owners of breeding stables. In smaller operations, they may work with all the horses, whereas in larger organisations, they handle only broodmares or only stallions. These workers are responsible for prepping the horses for mating and for keeping track of records. Breeding managers come to the profession in a variety of ways. Some begin work at the stables in their youth and move up from foaling attendant, whilst others attend equine management college programs or complete training as a veterinary assistant.
Reliable grooms are in high demand today and may perform a range of tasks. At smaller stables they can be responsible for stall maintenance as well as for brushing, washing, and tacking horses. Many grooms travel with the horses they care for. At elite riding levels, grooms specialise in disciplines like Dressage or Jumping, however at lower amateur levels, they often switch between stables and cover many different types of horse care, with their skills very transferable. Some types of grooms may need to be licensed for their location, and there are horse groom organisations that can provide training and career advice.
Check out this story to find out more about becoming a groom.
9. Sales broker
Equine sales brokers are the middlemen between breeders and buyers. Whilst there are now websites and apps to connect people to potential amateur mounts, brokers typically work at the upper echelons of equine sales. They can coordinate international purchases, arrange shipping, and help busy buyers zero in on the perfect horses for them.
Whilst bloodstock agents also function as sales brokers, all brokers aren’t bloodstock agents. Some are trainers or breeders who act as intermediaries between involved parties. This job requires a large network in the horse community as well as detailed knowledge of what various riding disciplines require in a horse.
10. Photographer or videographer
Nearly every horse show has a photographer and/or videographer onsite to record rides for training purposes and for posterity, as well as for sports reporting and entertainment. Videographers also make videos of horses for sale. To capture the perfect moment on film, it helps to have a knowledge of various riding disciplines and horse anatomy, as well as photographic talent. Depending on the type of business, it may also require an investment in equipment and a fair amount of travel, including on weekends.
11. Show management
To put on a successful horse show, there are dozens of people behind the scenes planning and making everything run smoothly during the event. Show management staff break into the profession in a variety of ways, often moving up from ground level over the years as they gain experience. Others are people with a background showing their own horses or are retired competitors.
Top staff at a horse show include managers, officials, course designers, ring stewards, scribes, and scorekeepers, each usually having prior experience in their discipline. Equestrian organisations may send representatives, like a technical delegate, to ensure their rules are followed at a show. These delegates must complete training in show rules and have a background in show management prior to being certified.
12. Saddle maker and fitter
Saddle makers and fitters come to the profession from a variety of paths. Some apprentice with centuries-old saddle makers, whilst others learn on the job at a saddle manufacturer or tack shop. Frequently, these are individuals who also have experience riding or training to understand the nuances of saddle fit. Check out this article about finding the perfect saddle!
13. Rider agent
Riders at the upper levels of competition often have agents to help manage their careers. Some of them book shows or races, as well as handle media requests and publicity. Depending on the rider’s other staff, they may do everything from arranging travel to negotiating sponsorship opportunities and helping to find horses to campaign. Agents come from different sources; some have a business or PR background, whilst others have worked in the equestrian world. This is not a position for an introvert, however!
14. Equine care provider
Equine care providers are the babysitters of the horse world, dropping in or staying over at the stables to take care of horses when their owners are away from home. This requires experience handling horses, and involves feeding, watering, mucking, turnout, and other stable chores. Some equine caregivers also provide exercise riding or longing to keep horses fit. Although some horse babysitters do the job informally for friends and neighbours, others have made a full-time business out of it. Rates for this type of work vary considerably, but those who are insured and/or bonded, which is recommended for the protection of both parties, can command a high fee for their services.
Who wants to have one more thing to worry about on show day? Professional mane braiders can create beautiful horsey hairdos for riders, so they can focus on the other tasks at hand. Braiders typically arrive at the stables with everything they need to do their job, like elastic bands and mane grooming products. Most braiders learn by doing, often starting as competitive equestrians or show parents. Top braiders are in constant demand and can make salaries rivalling trainers, but they work nearly every weekend.