Nine Equine Careers
Last week we looked in depth at the role of a Barn Manager. Here I have collected lighter overviews of a few more careers in the equine industry. My personal background is in graphic design, marketing, and art, so I’ve shared careers highlighting those skills among others below.
Marketing Coordinator at Equestrian Center At large equestrian venues, that support many shows per year, there is a need for a marketing coordinator to handle advertisements, communication, and coordination of the events. This often includes designing and coordinating print ads in trade magazines (eg. Chronicle of the Horse), documenting events as they unfold for social media content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), communicating with the social media audience, and coordinating a variety of other factors so that the events and equestrian center maintain the highest level of performance. This person needs to be detail oriented, self-motivated, high energy, and have experience with ad placement, the Adobe Creative Suite, and Microsoft Office Suite.
Groom Grooms are needed from the smallest of equine establishments to the largest. Responsibilities in smaller lesson/boarding barns can be diverse and include feeding, mucking, grooming, and more for the entire barn. Responsibilities at a larger barn or when grooming for a professional athlete are much more specialized where a groom can be assigned the care of a specific set of horses and be responsible for every detail of their care including daily health checks, warm up, cooling, and show turn out. A groom must be willing to work long, rigorous hours on little sleep. Other requirements include knowledge of equine care and handling, time management, self-motivation, and a positive attitude. If you want to get started as a groom, consider The Groom Elite Program. I finished this program in 2016 and certainly learned a lot!
Therapeutic Riding Instructor A therapeutic riding instructor teaches lessons to clients with various therapeutic riding goals. Some clients come with the goal to gain greater balance, range of motion, or muscle strength -- and the instructor guides them through lessons that are designed to work towards those goals. A therapeutic riding instructor must have a deep knowledge of horse care, management, and training. It is also important for the instructor to have excellent human interaction skills as they will be working closely with clients, parents, doctors, and volunteers. In addition, it is preferable that the therapeutic riding instructor is certified through PATH International to ensure their qualifications for the role.
Equine Specialist An equine specialist is someone who conducts Equine Assisted Learning or Equine Assisted Psychotherapy alongside a credentialed mental health professional. The equine specialist and credentialed therapist facilitate their client’s interaction with a horse to ensure it occurs in a safe and meaningful way. It is important that the equine specialist has extensive knowledge of horse care, management, and training. In addition, it is preferable that the equine specialist be certified through EGALA to ensure their qualifications for the role.
Show Photographer Professional photographers can make a living by photographing horse shows and other equine events. Photographers can be contracted by the venue hosting the show or may sell their images individually to attendees via a website. The more sought-after photographers sell their work to be published in trade publications (eg. Chronicle of the Horse). Show Photographers must have photography skills, a strong compositional and artistic eye, image editing capabilities, and all the equipment that makes the previous requirements possible. Organization, punctuality, and the ability to manage many tasks at once is also beneficial.
Web Designer / Graphic Designer Like any industry, the equine industry needs good design. Someone passionate and knowledgeable about the horse industry can specialize their web and design skills to serve the equine market. Web designers need to know coding languages or how to create websites using WordPress/SquareSpace/etc. Graphic designers can offer their services in print ads, logo design and branding, content creation for social media and many other areas. A higher education degree is not required but a strong portfolio of work certainly is. Knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) is a must. Designers must be able to manage multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously. They must be self-motivated and creative.
Carriage Driver Carriage Driving opportunities are common in tourist towns like Savannah, GA or Charleston, SC. A carriage driver needs to know how to handle horses, drive horses, and how to manage horses in a crowded town atmosphere. It can also be beneficial if the driver has a knowledge of the town to add interesting local commentary to the carriage ride. Carriage Drivers require a license/permit from the city/state in which they conduct business.
Equine Artist Many artists focus their skills into a niche subject area. For those interested in painting or sculpting horses there could be money in it. Horse owners will commission oil paintings, drawings, and even sculptures of their beloved or prize-winning steeds. In addition, even non-equestrians are drawn to the equine form and are often interested in equestrian themed artwork. A certain level of natural artistic talent is required to work in this field. It is also helpful for the equine artist to have training in composition, color theory, and the principals of art. This type of work can be done from anywhere and the internet and social media are great ways to share ones work and make a name for oneself. It is important that the equine artist builds a network of clientele and be punctual with deadlines. Some of my favorite equine artists are Julie Ferris, Jill Soukup, and Anouk Masson Krantz. Leave your favorite in the comments below!
Mounted Guide A mounted guide leads guests on trail rides. This job is common in the hospitality or tourism industry. Scenic locations such as the Biltmore estate and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park feature concessioners who offer trail rides. A mounted guide must ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone participating in the trail ride. Mounted guides also help care for the horses before and after a ride. A guide must have a pleasant, conversational disposition to make guests feel welcome, but must also prioritize safety. Teaching riding basics, watching out for rider safety, and answering questions will be part of their responsibility – so patience, knowledge, and flexibility are valuable characteristics for a guide to have. Some of my favorite guided equine tours have been Iceland, Paris, and Oxfordshire! Where have you enjoyed riding out with a guide? (Comment below!)
Header photo credit: Kenny Webster (via Unsplash.com)