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Learn about the education and preparation needed to have a career on a horse farm. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about necessary hands-on experience, degrees in equine science, job duties and the importance of having a deep passion for horses to find out if this is the career for you.
There are a variety of job options available on horse farms for individuals of differing skill levels. Due to long hours, physically demanding labor and relatively low pay, aspiring horse farm workers need a genuine passion and desire to work with horses. Possible career titles include groom, trainer and farrier.
|Career||Horse Trainer||Groom or Farrier|
|Required Education||High school diploma with varying levels of post-secondary training depending on desired position||High school diploma and on-the-job training (groom) Associate's degree in equine science and certificate (farrier)|
|Other Requirements||Hands on experience and a desire to be around horses||Experience volunteering in animal care, patience, physical stamina, compassion, customer service skills|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||15%||2% (for all farm, ranch and aquacultural animal workers)*|
|Median Salary (2014)||$25,770||$22,930 (for all farm, ranch and aquacultural animal workers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
One of the most important requirements for horse farm jobs is being observant and responsive to the horse's current state and well being. Aspiring horse farm workers often gain these skills by working under more experienced practitioners. Groom, trainer and farrier are just a few of the positions found on a horse farm.
In terms of formal education requirements, entry-level grooming jobs often just require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Students still in high school may gain experience by volunteering and spending many hours at the stables. As they grow more familiar with providing care to horses, grooms may also assist horse trainers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most horse trainers gain experience as grooms or riders first (www.bls.gov). Prospective trainers can also pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in equine sciences or a related field. Students in these programs typically take coursework in stable management, horsemanship, business management, training, breeding, handling, horse health and nutrition. Many of these programs prepare students for a variety of equestrian careers, including horse trainer.
Aspiring trainers who are interested in giving riding instructions can also obtain numerous levels of certification through the Certified Horsemanship Association. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and complete a training clinic for each certification (www.cha-ashe.org).
Farriers, or horse blacksmiths, can prepare for their roles by completing an associate's degree program in farrier technology. Students usually complete these programs in two years and take coursework in forging, welding techniques, hoof care, shoeing, horse physiology and nutrition. Practicing farriers can also seek voluntary certification through the American Farriers Association. Applicants for its four certification levels must demonstrate horseshoeing skills and pass a written examination (theamericanfarriers.org).
Horse grooms, or stable hands, are typically responsible for maintaining a horse's appearance through brushing, feeding, watering and cleaning these animals. They also exercise, rubdown and saddle the horses. Stable hands are expected to report any irregularities or behavioral problems that a horse may exhibit to trainers.
Horse training often involves riding the horses and rewarding good behaviors through positive reinforcement. Trainers must learn as much as possible about the horse's temperament and habits as they instruct these animals. They often supervise grooms in the handling of horses and may also specialize in training race horses or show horses, as well as provide riding instructions to horse owners.
These professionals trim and provide protective care for horse hooves, and the bulk of their work involves shoeing horses. Farriers fit and nail horseshoes to hooves and sometimes forge their own custom horseshoes. The work can be strenuous, since it involves lifting a horse's leg for an extended period of time.
In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected growth of 15% for all animal trainers, including horse trainers, through 2022. Job growth for all farm, ranch and aquacultural animal workers, a group which includes grooms and farriers, was expected to increase 2% over the same time period. Animal trainers earned a median salary of $25,770 in 2014, according to the BLS, while farm, ranch and aquacultural animal workers earned a median salary of $22,930.