20 Non-Riding
Careers for
Horse Lovers

05 April 2019

For people who love horses but don’t want a career in the saddle, they may think their options are limited when it comes to jobs in the equine niche.

Think again! Here are 20 non-riding careers that offer a chance to be around horses and work at the highest levels of equestrian competition.


1. Veterinary medicine

Within the field of veterinary medicine there are a variety of jobs. Doctors of veterinary medicine see equine patients and perform procedures, including surgery. There are also researchers with advanced degrees, like PhDs, who study equine health and behaviour. To assist them, there are vet technicians who do everything from run the office to function like a nurse in the operating theatre. Needless to say, veterinary doctors must put in years of schooling and practice before they can go out on their own. Vet tech programmes, however, can usually be completed in two to four years, depending on their location.


2. Equine dentist

Equine dentists obviously take care of equine teeth, performing oral exams and filing (floating) teeth to keep them functioning properly. In some areas, both equine dentists and veterinarians do this job; in other areas, one must be a vet to be a dentist. People interested in this field should look at the specific regulations for their area to determine the feasibility of pursuing equine dentistry as a career. This job requires confidence with horses and is relatively demanding physically.


3. Farrier

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.


6. Breeder

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.


8. Groom

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.


15. Braider

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.


16. Equine therapist

Equine therapists provide physical or psychological therapy for people using horses to help them. In some cases, patients may actually ride the horses, benefiting from the motion, the heat, and the physical stimulation. In other instances, the horses are used to help heal trauma or mental illness. Depending on the organisation, the equine therapist may simply lead the horse under the direction of a physical, occupational, or psychological therapist, or they may be the therapist themselves. This is a perfect profession for someone who likes working with animals as well as helping people with illness or disability.


17. Stable and boarding manager

Stables that aren’t run by the owner usually hire a manager to oversee daily maintenance, from ordering and accepting hay deliveries to coordinating farrier and vet visits. The stable manager may also handle boarding, finances, advertising, and updating the website. If the facility is large, the stable manager may have staff under them, such as grooms and groundskeepers.


At stables that house elite competitive horses, the manager may hold down the fort whilst everyone is away at events or may travel with the team to ensure everything on the road is satisfactory as at home. To do this type of work, managers should understand equine care as well as how to run a business, which can be learned in equine degree programmes for people with no previous experience.


18. Equine product sales representative

Many of the products seen at the veterinarian’s office or feed shop were promoted by a representative from the manufacturer, from pharmaceuticals to supplements and feed. These jobs required expertise in selling and managing accounts, and they usually want candidates with knowledge of equine anatomy and physiology. Many companies require a college degree too. There is almost always a lot of travel necessary, but these jobs offer great variety and often come with sales commissions.


19. Equine transport provider

Equine transporters haul horses by truck in addition to flying them around the globe for sale and show. This career requires a knowledge of equine handling in addition to whatever capital expenses are required for transport vehicles and holding. At the upper reaches of the profession, it helps to understand logistics and to be able to deal with changes and multiple tasks on the fly. Some horse haulers also assist with emergency transport during evacuations from wildfire and flooding. Most people learn equine transport on the job, working as an assistant to others before opening their own businesses.


20. Equine rescue organiser

For people who love horses and hate to see them homeless or mistreated, equine rescue may be the ideal field. These heroes buy horses that would otherwise go to slaughter or be the victim of poor care and rehome them to owners who keep them as companions or offer a second career in competition. Most horse rescues are charitable organisations, so this job entails quite a bit of fundraising. It also requires a knowledge of equine care, but riding is not necessary. A major downside of equine rescue is compassion fatigue, but most involved in this profession find the rewards outweigh any negatives.


Interested in pursuing a career related to equestrian? FEI Campus is a unique and free resource for everyone with a love of horses and equestrian sport, wherever they are in the world.


Words by Patricia Salem


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