15 Career Options for Working With Horses

Man Working in the Horse Stable

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There are many different career options for those interested in working with horses. Here are fifteen equine career possibilities, from veterinarian to jockey.

1. Equine Veterinarian

Equine veterinarians provide preventive health care for horses and treat their injuries. Becoming a licensed equine veterinarian involves a significant educational commitment, but the career has a solid average salary of $85,000. Board certified practitioners (also known as veterinary specialists) can earn much higher salaries.

2. Equine Veterinary Technician

Equine veterinary technicians provide assistance to veterinarians as they complete exams and surgical procedures. Vet techs must complete a two-year degree and pass an exam to become licensed in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (SBS), technicians earn a median annual wage of $31,800. The top ten percent earn $47,410 or more, while the bottom ten percent earn $21,890 or less.veterinary technician specialist certification (VTS) may earn even higher levels of compensation.

3. Riding Instructor

Riding instructors supervise students and direct them in riding lessons and training sessions. They may also ride the student’s horse to demonstrate proper techniques. Instructors may specialize in a variety of riding disciplines such as hunt seat, saddle seat, dressage, reining, and show jumping. Independent riding instructors typically charge an hourly rate for services but on average earn about $35,00 to $39,000 a year.

4. Farrier

Farriers are responsible for trimming, maintaining, and balancing equine hooves. Farriers must attend to each equine client about seven times per year on average. Most farriers are self-employed and can learn the trade via apprenticeship and certification courses. In some cases, the wage gap can be as great as $40,000 for pleasure horses to $200,000 or more for racing and show horses

5. Mounted Police Officer

Mounted police officers use their horses to provide crowd control and deter crime. Mounted officers must first achieve regular police officer status via police academy training (which takes roughly six months) and then spend about three years on the force before becoming eligible to apply for specialty units like the mounted patrol. Police officers earn an average salary of $70,000.

6. Broodmare Manager

Broodmare managers supervise the care of mares and foals. They are responsible for assisting with foalings, teasing mares, and keeping detailed veterinary and production records. The average salary for a broodmare manager is about $40,577.

7. Stallion Manager

Stallion managers supervise the care and breeding of stallions. They're involved in scheduling breeding shed appointments, supervising daily care, and promoting stallions to the public. The average salary for a stallion manager is $37,000 to $40,000 ay ear.

8. Jockey

A jockey rides racehorses in flat or steeplechase races according to the trainer’s instructions. Jockeys can ride multiple races each day, as well as working horses in the morning. Earnings vary widely because the jockey earns a percentage of their horse’s winnings in each race, and race purses vary by track and level of competition. However, a good average gauge is that while jockeys only get paid around $100 or so to ride a mount, they collect about 10 percent of the first-place money and 5 percent of the second-, third,- and fourth-place money paid to the owners if the horse finishes.

9. Groom

Grooms provide daily care for the horses under their supervision, taking care to notice any changes in a horse’s behavior or body that might signal a need for veterinary care. While the BLS does not separate groom salary data from the category of animal care and service workers, the estimated average salary to be $19,360 per year.

10. Exercise Rider

Exercise riders work horses each morning on the racetrack, following the instructions they're given by trainers. Exercise riders are generally a bit taller and heavier than jockeys. Riders are usually paid by the mount, and a full-time exercise rider can earn a salary of $27,000 ($500 to $700 per week).

11. Barn Manager

Barn managers supervise the care of the horses in their stable. They may be involved with hands-on horse care, managing employees, and scheduling deliveries of feed and bedding. Barn managers earn an average of $32,000 a year.

12. Bloodstock Agent

Bloodstock agents evaluate horses at auction and bid on them on behalf of their clients. They may also arrange the purchase of stallion seasons, proven racehorses, or horses that are privately for sale. Most bloodstock agents are involved in the Thoroughbred industry and earn a commission for their services. New agents can earn about $39,000 per year, while experienced professionals may earn six figures.

13. Equine Dental Technician

Equine dental technicians remove sharp points from a horse’s teeth (in a procedure known as “floating” the teeth). Dental care ensures that the horse can eat and perform properly. Equine dental techs usually earn a set fee per horse treated, with yearly earnings topping $69,000.

14. Racehorse Trainer

Racehorse trainers condition their equine charges to compete in racing events. They must be well versed in all aspects of horsemanship and pass a licensing exam in each state where they intend to compete. Trainers earn a day rate for the horses under their care plus a percentage of their horses’ winnings. Most trainers earn between $20,000 and $60,000 annually, though top trainers routinely earn six-figure salaries.

15. Horse Breeder

Horse breeders arrange matings that result in foals of a certain breed or foals that are suited for a specific type of competition. While the salary of a breeder can vary widely based upon what breed they produce and the quality of their breeding stock, according to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by all animal breeders is $39,380.