How to Become a Horse Trainer

If you love horses and everything related to them, becoming a trainer would be an excellent idea. There are many areas within the equestrian industry, and a trainer is one of them. The main duty of a trainer would be to discipline and train various equines so they excel in their selected roles.

The role of a horse trainer usually constitutes of the following:

  • Introduce horses to saddles and their role
  • Re-educating horses when they change their roles in life like moving from racing to performing in events
  • Harnessing the horse to show skills like jumping, trail riding, Western pleasure, and dressage
  • Working with horses who display behavioral issues like kicking, rearing, bucking, biting, and other related problems
  • Performance training like in riding schools and racing

Every horse trainer requires a few traits no matter which area of horse training they are focusing on. Each horse has different requirements that the trainer needs to work on in order to play its role in the entertainment field. However, the following expertise is common among all trainers:

  • Patience – this is required in every field when it comes to training.
  • A thorough understanding of nutrition, fitness, and of equine behavior.
  • Strength and fitness levels required to ride multiple horses in a day. It takes a lot of physical strength and mental peace to work with equine creatures on a daily basis.
  • The trainer must be able to assess a horse’s determination and abilities in order to adjust the training plan accordingly.
  • Have empathy for horses and be aware of their basic fight or flight reflexes.

There is no doubt that horse training has many facets and finding one that fits your expertise and abilities is the first step. You need to first consider which area you would like to establish your career and an experienced trainer can guide you. Starting your career under an established trainer is where you should begin.

Do I Need Qualifications to Become a Horse Trainer?

Specific qualifications are needed for a few industry-dependent careers. For example, if you want to become a trainer for racehorses, you will require a license. This requires pacers, trotters, and gallopers on turf and dirt. A training license is the first thing you will need to acquire to step into the horse racing industry.

If you are considering general training of horses like starting them under a saddle and making them safe for general riding, experience overweighs any license. You do not need a license but recommendations from horse owners whom you helped. This will get you, various potential clients, for the future. Whatever country you are planning to start your career, check if there are any licenses that you can acquire. Anything that would make your portfolio look good, helps. A qualification, however, is not imperative to train horses. Your employment will usually depend on your knowledge and experience of working with horses.

If you still believe that you need to get a degree in horse training, look for courses that best fit your interests, and equine behavior is the first thing that needs your attention. Look for the following courses:

  • Horse nutrition
  • Horse training
  • Horse behavior (this will usually be named as equine behavior)
  • Horse husbandry
  • Horse health
  • Stable routines

Although a qualification with a certificate or degree will greatly help you excel in your career, it is not a requirement to get started.

Horse Trainer Working Conditions

The first thing you need to consider if you are planning to become a horse trainer is the difficult working conditions and hours. The racing industry is the toughest one that requires you to start as early as 3 am in the morning. Your time will spread split shifts and may go as long as lunchtime without breaks.

Morning Shift

A typical shift will include:

  • Prepping the horses to be ridden by racing riders
  • Feeding the horses and mucking the boxes out
  • Exercising the horses and providing directions and tips to those who will ride the horses
  • Washing the horses and cooling them down
  • Directing the present staff on how to manage the horses
  • You may also be required to swim with the horses
  • Lunging and putting the horses on the walker when required.

Afternoon Shift

The afternoon shift will look similar to the morning shift, but this time the horses would be somewhat worn out. This will include more feeding, swimming, lunging, and using hot walkers. Horses require movement as opposed to staying still in a stable or a stall. Mucking out and picking up boxes will also be required in the afternoon shift. Rugging the horses for the evening is another job that you may be required to do.

The activity of a horse will vary each day but the racing industry has a set routine. Every shift will start on the same day every morning with a set routine for every horse. The stalls are cleaned; horses are fed and taken out to exercise. Every task is completed in the same order each day. However, non-racing stables have a different routine.

The time usually starts at 6 am every morning and ends at 5 pm every evening. The horses are fed and taken out to train. Every trainer and horse will spend time seven days a week in order to reach a certain goal within a short period of time. Thus, a trainer’s job requires long hours including weekends. This includes different horses and physical labor. So, if you absolutely love working with horses, this is your dream job!

Horse Trainer’s Salary

As a trainer, your salary will depend on how many horses you train. This will also include any winning amount that your trained horse wins in a race or a show. However, every trainer can charge according to the expertise that they can offer. Weekly earnings are also quite normal that depends on what a particular horse has been doing. Like a week of starting under a saddle, the next week to pre-training and then racing. The same goes for getting ready for a show and so on.

The trainer can charge weekly and as the horse’s abilities progress, these milestones are paid weekly. Trainers are allowed to set their own rates and invoice their customers to ensure that cash flows uninterrupted. It is always a good idea to start with a job under a proprietorship in order to understand the basics of the business.