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Horse Trainer: Job Description, Duties, and Requirements

Have you ever seen a horse perform in a show, movie, or racing event? Horse trainers are responsible for making them act the way they do. A horse trainer teaches horses in ways that suit a rider.

They’re also responsible for training them to obey specific commands and perform desired behaviors.  Horse trainers are professionals because they know how to produce effective results within a short time as required.

Horse Trainer Job Description and Duties

Grooming and Correcting Problematic Behaviors

The duties of a horse trainer may vary. Yet their primary responsibilities include bridling and saddling horses, desensitizing unfamiliar sounds and sights, planning training exercise routines, using a variety of training aids when suitable, consulting with vet doctors when intensive care is required, and treating minor injuries. Also, they are to correct certain behaviors, such as butting heads, circling, chewing, and aggression.

Prepare Horses for Races or Other Events

Trainers may likewise contend with horses during preparation at shows to qualify them for prizes or other recognitions, which will boost their worth. If they travel to events, they trailer the horses and help them prepare in the show ring.

Train the Horse Owner

Although horse trainer duties mostly involve riding the horse, the horse owner sometimes engages in riding activities. It’s particularly common when the horse training process is coming to an end, as the horse trainer may need to show the owner how to keep up with the progress (for instance, learning horseback riding lessons).

Schedule Routine Services

Also, horse trainers may need to schedule routine services, like veterinary and farrier (a specialist who shoes and trims a horse’s hooves) appointments, while the horse is under their watch. Contingent upon their facility’s staffing, the horse trainer may as well be responsible for mucking stables, feeding, and performing other basic chores of horsemanship.

Spend Most Days with Horses Outdoors

Although horse trainers mostly spend only a few hours each day to perform their duties, it isn’t unusual for them to work a minimum of five days a week. A trainer spends most of the day outdoors in fluctuating temperatures and conditions, though some horse trainers enjoy the favor of a covered area at the location. Sometimes, they may be required to travel to convey horses to a show or event.

Types of Horses

The horses that trainers may typically work with are of three different kinds.

  • Ponies: Also referred to as foals, these horses have smaller heads and necks. Their manes, tails, and coats are thicker.
  • Light horses: They are specially bred horses for riding. Their bodies are long, and this enables riders to saddle and sit on them comfortably.
  • Heavy horses: They have thicker and shorter legs. These are specially bred horses for plowing or pulling carts, generally, for heavy labor. You can find them at fairs and similar events.

Horse Trainer Requirements

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, many horse trainers start careers by working as horse groomers in stables. It is usually mandatory to be knowledgeable in horse husbandry and proficient in riding. However, there are some positions that demand more horse training requirements.

Some trainers work as apprentices, where they groom and feed horses, exercise horses, perform stable tasks, and complete any other assignments given to them by their mentors. A horse trainer can learn the required skills by undergoing a program in equine studies, offered by many colleges. The courses a trainer can take may include equine diseases, animal welfare and ethics, equine behavior, facility management, equine nutrition, equine physiology and anatomy, and horsemanship.

Equipment Used

Horse trainers are required to be proficient in the use of these tools:

  • Horse training tools (horse halters, lunge lines)
  • Essential riding equipment (saddles, side-pulls, reins, bridles)

Horse Trainer Qualifications and Skills

Being a lover of horses is undoubtedly on top of any qualifications and skills list for a horse trainer. However, these professionals should possess some other abilities. Here are some skills that employers look out for when searching for a horse trainer:

  • Riding skills: They need to guide horses through several courses and over different kinds of terrain.
  • Physical fitness: Horse trainers need to endure several physical demands, from experiencing occasional kicks or falls to standing in different climates for long periods.
  • Horse handling: Trainers must find comfort in every area of equine administration, from cooling and blanketing to leading and haltering horses after each training or exercise.
  • Communication: They should be able to instruct riders, order horses to follow specific commands, and change their behaviors when needed.
  • Mentoring skills: Trainers usually work with horse groomers and assistants who wish to join the horse training field.
  • Team player: They should be able to communicate openly and work with groomers, owners, barn managers, assistant trainers, stable workers, and other professionals.
  • Time management: They outline training schedules, ensuring a specified time for training horses.

Horse Trainer Salaries

Some horse trainers are paid for each ride or at a monthly or weekly rate for each horse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s no specific horse trainers’ salary. But the mean annual salary for animal trainers is $29,000 ($13.90 per hour) – the larger 10th percentile of every animal trainer earned above $56,000 annually.

According to Payscale, the average annual salary of horse trainers was about $31,000 in 2018. The top earners in the career got a mean yearly wage of $58,700. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that animal trainers (especially horse trainer jobs) in Illinois, Washington, Kentucky, California, and Arizona earn the highest salaries.

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