Jobs on Horse Farms: Education Requirements and Career Information
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 often need a genuine passion and desire to work with horses. Possible career titles include groom, trainer and farrier.
Education Requirements for Horse Farm Jobs
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).
Career Information for Horse Farm Jobs
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.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected slow growth of 3% for animal trainers, including horse trainers, through 2020. In 2012, animal trainers earned an average annual salary of $30,340, according to the BLS. From 2010-2020, jobs for agricultural workers were predicted to decline by 3%, per the BLS. In 2012, breeders earned $34,250 per year, on average, while all other agricultural workers earned an average yearly salary of $25,140, according to the BLS.
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