Find your dream equestrian job
There are myriad career choices in the equine industry, many of which you may not have been aware of or seen as options for you. There are now a number of official training options to your dream career, from apprenticeships to degree courses.
“There are around one million horses in the UK and a thriving industry that has evolved to support performance athletes as well as those directly involved in daily husbandry,” says Caroline Flanagan, Head of School for Equine and Veterinary Physiotherapy University Courses at Writtle University College.
Whether you’re interested in equine nutrition, rehabilitation and training, breeding, teaching, welfare or performance management, there is a training path for you. Courses include work placements, providing hands-on experience, and many offer flexible hours to allow you to continue with your riding.
Equestrian education doesn’t get more hands-on than at award-winning Haddon Training, which is the preferred training provider for British Eventing, British Showjumping and British Dressage. Its apprenticeships offer placements at some of the top yards in the UK, including Andrew Hoy, Nigel Coupe, Mount St John Stud and Michael Eilberg.
“We offer apprenticeships with an upper case A – it’s structured, meaningful training that leads to a career,” explains Chris. “It’s just the same as training to be a nurse or engineer, and it gives them tangible skills that will stay with them for life.”
In addition to their grooming and racehorse care apprenticeships, Haddon runs a Learning Mentor apprenticeship, which supports mentors of all ages and levels.
“The weak link in the chain of retaining people in the equestrian industry is they don’t know how to manage people, and this course shows them how,” says Chris.
Upgrade your skills
While Haddon is aimed at those who have a clear idea of the career they want, there are courses that teach generic business skills, which are useful across a range of equine industries. This is an ideal option if you are unsure about your career path or if you want to acquire practical business skills alongside your riding.
The Professional Business Diploma at Oxford Media and Business School is a one-year intensive course, teaching IT, business communications, event management, project management, digital marketing, social media and more.
“We prepare students to work in any office, in any environment,” says Principal Andrea Freeman. “Some choose a big corporate company, while others may want a more creative job in marketing, events or PR – the list is endless.
“The course is also popular with young riders who are looking to pursue riding or grooming as a career, but also need a plan B. The skills gained from the course mean they are either better equipped to run and manage a yard, or they can temp part time to earn good money.”
Higher education that works for you
If your career choice requires a higher level of qualification, there are plenty of options that will keep your brain busy and your parents happy!
Writtle University College offers BSc degrees in Equine Behavioural Science, Equine Performance Science, Equine Performance and Business Management and Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation. If you don’t have the qualifications required for the course, there are various pathways you can take.
Their Level 3 Advanced and Advanced Extended diploma is a popular option, as it gives students a broad understanding of many areas. They can then either specialise at degree level, or use the skills they have acquired to gain employment.
“We have recently launched a new ‘Year Zero’ for selected degree qualifications,” says Caroline. “Studying for a degree with an integrated foundation year will offer you a supportive environment if you have been out of education for a few years or do not have the necessary UCAS points.”
Moreton Morrell, which is part of Warwickshire College Group, offers degrees in Equine Science, Equine Performance Coaching, and Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation, some of which you can study part time from home. Alternatively, they offer a range of diplomas that will set you up for your career, including farriery, horse care and management, and grooming.
The industry encompasses so many different opportunities – you just need to find your niche and take the relevant training to get you there.
“It’s an unbelievably fulfilling industry,” says Caroline. “Many traditional aspects of maintaining horses for leisure or competition purposes are being challenged by modern science, making it a fast-paced, exciting and rewarding industry to be a part of.”
Find your perfect equine career
The equine industry is incredibly varied and offers so much more than traditional career paths.
Here are some options to consider:
- Equine nutritionist
- Show co-ordinator/event manager
- Equine behavioural consultant
- Training rehabilitation
- Research assistant
- Scientific journalist
- Welfare assessor/advisor
- Rehoming and rehabilitation
- Advisor to governing bodies/ charities
- Equine sports therapist
- Stud management
- Bloodstock sales
- Equine resource management
- Business consultancy
- Sports psychologist
- Lab technician
Some careers are easier to get into than others. For example, to qualify as a sports psychologist takes many years of hard work and dedication, as Steffi Dampney discovered. She studied Psychology at Newcastle University and then completed a Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of the West of England (UWE). Steffi subsequently set up her own business and is currently halfway through her Stage 2 to become a chartered sports psychologist.
“It gives me real pride that I can help people enjoy riding, and therefore experience more success,” says Steffi. “It’s challenging making a living out of working mainly in the equine market, but there is certainly a need and demand for sports psychologists within the equestrian community.”
Don’t let age be a barrier either. Louise Anderson took a law degree, but decided to retrain as an equine bodyworker, while Tilly Berendt went from groom to journalist on Horse & Rider. She now works as a freelance writer, photographer and presenter.
You also shouldn’t be put off by a lack of qualifications or formal training, as anyone with the drive and initiative can start their own business. Sally Smith washes and mends horse rugs, and makes equestrian items after a long career as a groom; Suzanne McCall takes people pony trekking in Loch Lomond; Amanda Keech runs a pony party business; Natalie Porter set up Porter Dressage To Music, which produces dressage to music; and Rachel Western makes show jumps.
After all, if you build it, they will come…