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What does a Horse Trainer do?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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The job of a horse trainer is a multifaceted one. Some trainers are expected to act as barn managers in addition to training duties, while other trainers only care for the animals in their charge. Overall, the tasks of a horse trainer include training, exercising, and ensuring the complete and total health of all assigned horses.

Horse trainers are largely responsible for nearly every aspect of a horse's life. Many trainers work with the same group of horses for many years. In addition, a trainer must be willing to work as part of a team, since trainers will often be required to work closely with barn managers, foremen, and assistant trainers. Thus, good communication skills are a vast part of this occupation.

Specifically, a horse trainer must know how to develop exercise routines, create schedules, perform undersaddle and ground work, and correct natural behavioral problems. Due to the nature of this occupation, trainers must have prior experience dealing with horses before a horse trainer position can be obtained.

Experience that may qualify a person for the position of a horse trainer includes professional riding experience, former training, or an educational background in veterinarian medicine. Also, it is not uncommon for a trainer to attain on-the-job experience by working as an apprentice or a stable hand.

While formal schooling isn't required in order to become a trainer, those aspiring to work with horses may want to consider special courses. Frequently, horse farms offer courses that pertain strictly to horse training. These courses will often help aspiring trainers to gain a well-paid training position.

Those with training experience can find job openings by applying directly to farms in need of trainers. On occasion, horse trainer positions are posted at job centers, though this is rather rare. Trainers who work with specific types of horses may also have an upper hand when it comes to securing a rare training position. Breeders that seek specialized trainers will often hire those with extensive breed-specific experience.

Any person wishing to work with animals should posses a variety of attributes including patience, understanding, reliable intuition, and the ability to analyze difficult situations clearly and rationally. Those drawn to this profession often have a passion for working with animals. In addition to practical tasks, trainers may also be asked to perform administrative duties. Thus, experience with computers, filing, and merchandise ordering may be useful.

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Discussion Comments

By croydon — On Feb 11, 2014

@bythewell - There are several definitions of training, of course, and it depends on what you want to do. Someone with common sense and the ability to do research might even be able to train their own horse. I've heard of people rescuing wild horses from euthanasia and doing this with more or less success.

Then there are the people who want to enter competitions. They might not consider themselves a full time horse trainer, but they do need to do it a little bit, because the horse and the rider basically train together.

Then you've got the people who train horses to pull carriages, people who still work with horses on the land, people who train horses for the police force and so forth. All of these are going to require different skills.

I think even the type of horse can make a difference. An Arabian horse trainer will have a different skill-set than a draft horse trainer.

By bythewell — On Feb 11, 2014

@Mor - Well, there are other ways of doing it though. I know there's a prison program in the States somewhere where they get the inmates to break wild horses, which involves training them. It might not be the intricate training that gets done by professional horse trainers, but it would still be something they could eventually put on their resumes.

And I know there are universities that have equine-based courses so that people can learn how to work with the animals in one way or another.

By Mor — On Feb 10, 2014

This is not the kind of thing that you can step into lightly. I've got a friend on Facebook who is working his way towards a career in horses and I honestly don't know where he finds the time or money to do all the things he does with them. And he's still nowhere near being able to do it professionally.

A professional horse trainer has probably worked with horses in one way or another their whole life, or has at least dedicated themselves to learning how for several years.

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