Children who love horses don't go bed dreaming of sugar plums. Their dreams are made of the thunder of hooves racing down the track. Visions of becoming a jockey and winning the Triple Crown dance through their heads. Or, perhaps, they dream of winning Olympic Gold Medals like US Champions David and Karen O'Connor. Sometimes, for the grown-ups, the dreams are of simpler stuff - like finding a way to get out from behind a desk and into the barn.
Equine Career Options
For those of us who aren't small enough or brave enough to become a jockey, there are a variety of career options. All equines need veterinary care and a farrier on a regular basis. Horses also need grooms, horses and riders need trainers, and farms need managers and stable help.
There are colleges that offer degrees in equine management. If you're considering an equestrian career, there are a variety of and training programs. Also, consider what your local community college has to offer.
Most of these jobs require extensive practical training in addition to education. If you're interested you should get as much experience as you can - even if it means volunteering to help out a local barn until you find paid employment, mucking stalls in exchange for board for your horse, or doing an internship while attending school.
Equine Job Search Resources
There are online resources for finding equine jobs. Start with these, then visit the general equine sites and use them as a source of prospective employers. These sites may not advertise job openings, but, you will find listings for horse-related services that you can use to generate job leads.
The best way to find a job, especially in this type of career field, is still through networking and word-of-mouth. Go to horse shows and spend the day talking to horse people. If you're near a race track, stop by early in the morning when the horses are being exercised. You just might ending up talking to someone who had a job opening. Keep in mind that all race tracks don't run year round. Saratoga Race Track, for example, is only open during the summer. So, you may need to be flexible and willing to travel.
Offer to help with your local 4-H or Pony Club Group. Check the bulletin boards in your local tack shop and feed store. Pick up some equine magazines and newsletters while you're there. You might not find job listings, but, you will find ads for barns, farms, riding schools, etc. that you can use to come up with a list of prospects. Use the Yellow Pages to get a list of local vets, stables and farms. Call or visit to see if they are hiring.
There are also jobs available in peripheral businesses which are related to horses, but, don't necessarily include hands-on work. For example, there are a variety of large horse racing web sites, like the Daily Racing Form and a multitude of smaller businesses. In addition, there are jobs at companies and organizations that provide products and services to the equine industry such as SmartPak Equine.
Most importantly, be flexible. If, at first, you can't find a job that will pay the bills, consider combining a couple of part-time positions, or consider seasonal work combined with another type of off-season job. It will, at least, get you started on the career of your dreams.