Plenty of students dream of one day becoming a teacher or a doctor. While your desire to work with horses might not be as common, it’s every bit as achievable. There are probably more career options than you realize.
Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re not sure of the specific role you want to pursue just yet. Equestrian jobs come in all shapes and sizes, so there are bound to be at least a few that pique your interest. The first step is to familiarize yourself with what’s out there, and we’re here to help you do just that.
Equestrian jobs that focus primarily on working with horses
If you’re interested in a career that emphasizes hands-on work with horses, consider these roles.
1. Equine-assisted therapist
These master’s-qualified, licensed professionals incorporate horses in their practice to help patients work through conditions ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder. Equine-assisted therapists typically combine activities involving horses and psychotherapy in their treatment plans. Those who wish to obtain a specialty certification also need to meet equine-related training requirements.
2. Equine dental technician
As an equine dental technician, you would work closely with veterinarians to clean teeth, remove sharp points or edges, perform extractions and maintain detailed records. It’s a role that requires a fair amount of travel since these professionals need to go to their patients. To pursue this role, you typically need to complete an equine dental education program and obtain certification.
3. Equine nutritionist
Equine nutritionists use their knowledge of horses’ digestive systems and dietary needs to devise appropriate feeding plans. They take into consideration each animal’s activity level, size and nutritional imbalances to develop an individualized diet that can promote wellness and even prevent future health issues. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in animal science or equine studies can set you on the path to this career, but bear in mind that many owners look for specialists who have an advanced degree in equine nutrition.
4. Equine rehabilitation therapist
Some horse injuries can’t be fully treated through medical interventions, which is where equine rehabilitation therapists come in. These highly skilled professionals are able to use massage, targeted exercises and other techniques to help horses regain strength and mobility. This is a relatively new profession, so there are multiple educational pathways. You might consider an undergraduate program that focuses on equine rehabilitation as well as further education.
5. Equine veterinarian
Veterinarians can focus on a particular area of medicine just like doctors, but they can also specialize by the type of animal they want to treat. Equine veterinarians are the latter type. They focus on caring for horses by conducting examinations, administering vaccines, prescribing medications, performing surgeries as necessary and more. To become an equine veterinarian, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree, a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree and become licensed.
6. Equine veterinary technician
These professionals work under the supervision of an equine veterinarian to provide medical care to horses. Their responsibilities include providing emergent care, restraining horses during exams or procedures, collecting samples for tests and administering medications. Equine veterinary technicians need at least an associate degree and proper licensure to practice.
7. Horse breeder
Horse breeders use their knowledge of equine reproduction and behavior to assist in reproduction. They need to be extremely comfortable working with horses and well-versed in artificial insemination techniques. While there are no strict requirements for becoming a horse breeder, a solid education that covers topics like nutrition, anatomy and physiology is essential for success.
8. Horse trainer
Horses need to get used to the human-animal relationship the same way riders do. Trainers help bridge the gap by getting the animals used to wearing saddles and bridles, teaching them to understand riding commands and ensuring they’re comfortable with human contact. There are no degree requirements for becoming a horse trainer, but you do need to have substantial experience working with horses.
9. Mounted patrol officer
Patrol officers with a few years of experience are qualified to be appointed to the mounted police officer unit. Some of their responsibilities outside of typical police work include pursuing fleeing suspects on horseback, conducting patrols at large outdoor gatherings and ensuring crowd control. To become a mounted patrol officer, you typically need to obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree, complete academy training and gain up to 400 hours of specialty equine training.
10. Riding instructor
Riding instructors provide guidance to students on proper form and how to effectively communicate with the horse. Some work with individual students, while others focus mostly on group lessons. While a degree isn’t a requirement for becoming a riding instructor, many find it useful to gain a background in equine studies and participate in a collegiate riding team.
Equestrian jobs that involve indirectly working with horses
The following horse-related roles are typically more hands-off, but they’re great options if you’re more interested in the business world.
11. Farm or ranch manager
These managers ensure equipment is maintained, advise owners on horse sales and purchases, make decisions on suppliers to work with and keep tabs on the financial health of the farm or ranch. Horse farm managers at larger operations tend to do more administrative duties and supervision of staff than hands-on work with horses. While horse farm managers don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree, a background in equine studies and management is useful.
12. Equine association staff member
There are numerous equine-related associations and organizations, and they need qualified staff just like any other business. Roles include professionals in finance, communications, public relations, executive leadership and more. Because these roles are so varied, the educational requirements differ. That said, these organizations always look for candidates who have an appreciation for and familiarity with horses.
13. Equine insurance agent
Equine insurance might seem like a strange concept at first, but purchasing a horse is a considerable financial investment. Equine insurance agents help clients protect both the animal and themselves by assisting them in choosing an appropriate plan. While some agents focus exclusively on horses, others also offer farm property and equipment insurance. A degree isn’t required for this profession, but you can benefit from an educational background in both business and equine studies.
14. Equine product sales representative
Equine product sales representatives sell items like feed, supplements, saddles, bridles and grooming equipment either by calling potential buyers over the phone or by directly visiting locations in their assigned territory. Sales representatives typically need a bachelor’s degree in a business concentration, but those in this particular role can benefit from attending an equine studies program.
15. Show manager
If preparation and contingency planning come naturally to you, consider becoming a horse show manager. These professionals are multitaskers who plan and run competitions. They need to set the budget, follow rules set by relevant governing bodies, hire and train staff, reserve facilities, book judges, publicize the event and much more. There aren’t specific degree requirements for becoming a show manager, and many of these individuals start their own companies with varying educational backgrounds. That said, you stand to benefit from having a solid foundation in business and equine studies, plus plenty of horsemanship experience.
Identify your ideal equestrian job
Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of the many equestrian jobs out there. Because there are so many differences from one role to the next, required credentials are equally as varied. Determining which careers appeal to you most can help you identify how to proceed.
If any of the careers that focus heavily on management or science catch your eye, you may want to consider working toward an equine studies degree. Good programs like the one at Midway University teach you the fundamentals of horse care and allow you to focus your education on the specific path you’d like to pursue.
Find out how to choose a school that can set you on the path to success by reading our article, “How to Compare Equine Colleges: A Guide for Students Interested in Working With Horses.”