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Featured Career: Equestrian Trainer

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Equestrian Trainer collage of images

Equestrian, in direct English translation, correlates to horseback riding. In fact, the word equestrian is derived from the Latin words ‘equester’ meaning rider and ‘equus’, meaning horse. Horses are believed to have been around since the Paleolithic period of approximately 30,000 BCE. While it is still being disputed when and how humans first domesticated horses, recent scientific evidence has shown horses were used as transportation by humans as early as 3500 BCE. It is also believed that during this time, civilizations began training horses for work (such as pulling loads), sports (such as chariot races), and survival (such as hunting and war). This places the role of a horse trainer as an extraordinarily old profession. Today, modern society calls this ancient profession an ‘Equestrian Trainer’.

Roman chariot race

Over the centuries the role of an Equestrian Trainer has evolved. They now encompass a wide variety of skills that can range from training a horse for riding lessons, to becoming a certified equine sports massage therapist who tends to racehorses. No matter which path is chosen, all responsibilities require equestrians to work in a hands-on environment where caring and training for horses is an integral part of their daily routine.

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Horses racing

Some of these routine responsibilities include:

  • Preparing and training horses for different disciplines of competition.

  • Managing a proper nutritional diet in preparation for a major event (such as the ‘Kentucky Derby’).

  • Tending to nursing care needs for breeding.

  • Working with students to improve their riding techniques.

Horse stables with the horses head sticking out

The large array of responsibilities has molded the equestrian industry into a multitude of practices/concentrations. For example, trainers who enjoy barns (such as ‘Barn Managers’) may choose the meticulous day-to-day duties of a top-tier dressage facility, while others may choose a less intensive position at a therapeutic riding camp.

Young girl training to ride a horse

Additionally, some trainers may desire to work in a more fast-paced environment consisting of small 3-day events, while others may choose a slower-paced environment providing horse lessons to children and novice riders. The practice chosen will depend on the equestrian's area of expertise and preferred discipline.

Woman jumping hurdles while riding a horse

Horse trainers must also interact with clients and network in order to expand their customer base. In doing so, many trainers are responsible for creating programs dedicated to working solely with a client's horse. These programs are designed to improve performance and increase winning potential within a specific competitive event.

Woman training horse in training ring

Most of their work is done outside during the day, or in an indoor arena. Trainers ride horses with the goal of obtaining increased responsiveness, suppleness, collection, and physical fitness. This requires the trainer to also possess strict concentration and patience when handling the horses.

To become an Equestrian Trainer, an individual needs to have prior experience working with and riding horses. This includes professional riding experience, former training, or educational background in veterinary care; however, a degree is not required. It is suggested that people who aspire to become trainers should consider taking specialized courses consisting of nutrition, horsemanship, equine behavior, dressage facility management, and animal ethics. Many trainers work their way up by starting out in the stables, cleaning, and grooming the horses. Some trainers start off as apprentices where they exercise the horses, perform stable chores, feed, groom, and perform other duties required.

Horse stables

The yearly salary of an Equestrian Trainer ranges from $37,000 - $67,000 depending on the level of experience. However, equestrians who move on to start their own business and explore entrepreneurship can earn upwards of 6 to 7 figure salaries per year. There truly is no limit to how far one can go. Not bad for all those who love horses.

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