What comes to your mind when you think of a horse trainer? Probably someone that gets to ride horses and ponies all day. But there is much more to it than that! Some other tasks involved in being a horse trainer or riding instructor include: helping out with barn chores; helping clients and students sell and purchase horses; consulting with vets, farriers and therapists; grooming and tacking up horses for lessons; entering, packing for, and transporting horses to competitions; and so much more! Keep reading to get an inside look at the responsibilities of these equine professionals.
Being a horse trainer or riding instructor is a lot of work - but totally worth it! Their main job consists of training young or green horses, or horses with behavioral issues. They develop a relationship with the horse by doing groundwork, lunging, and riding to make him a safe, relaxed, and happy mount. Riding instructors teach students of all ages about horsemanship and how to become equestrians by teaching them how to ride, handle, and care for horses. This includes learning how to properly groom, tack up, ride, and lunge a horse; proper cool-out and how to care for a horse after their workout; and how to put on splint boots, winter blankets or fly masks. Students also learn about natural equine behavior, basic nutrition guidelines and herd dynamics or turnout routines. Lessons can encompass learning about basic medical care, such as identifying lameness, treating minor cuts or wounds, and knowing when to call the vet. More advanced lessons will teach students how to compete in horse shows, how to load a horse onto the trailer and whatever else they have a desire to know!
When they aren’t teaching lessons, horse trainers are doing a million other things. They’re managing the barn by making sure water buckets are full, stalls are cleaned and horses are healthy and happy. Or they’re sending in show entries, packing for competitions or trying to get a horse onto the trailer that doesn’t like to load! Or maybe they’re traveling with a student to test ride a potential new horse, talking with the farrier about a lesson pony’s mystery lameness, or holding a sale horse for her pre-purchase exam. Whatever equine-related task they’re doing, just know that they probably have dirt under their fingernails, hay in their hair and smell like manure - but they love every second of it.
Are you interested in becoming a horse trainer or riding instructor? Are you up for long hours, feisty ponies, and busy days? If you are, then the best place to start is with an established, responsible trainer. They’ll show you the ropes and teach you the ins and outs of what it takes to coach and train. Be prepared to work hard and good luck!