The winning owners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes couldn't achieve those levels of success without horse trainers. Horse trainers exercise and ride the horses to get them in shape for races, and ensure they get the proper diets, grooming and care. But most horse trainers train horses for stable owners who offer public riding lessons, and for local shows and rodeo events. If you want to become a horse trainer, you'll need to be skilled in horse grooming and nutrition, equine anatomy, diseases and behavior, exercise routines, riding techniques and safety. In return, you can expect an average income of around $30,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average horse trainer salary is $30,000 annually, with salaries ranging from $25,000 to $38,000. Racehorse trainers at top stables who help produce winners for major races can earn $1 million or more, but such opportunities are rare. There are other careers with horses that pay well, including farrier and veterinarian. To qualify for a horse trainer position, you usually need just a high school diploma and basic training from another horse trainer. Horse owners might prefer that you have some knowledge of veterinary science, or understand the basic anatomy of horses. The best experience often comes from riding and caring for horses from an early age. Patience, compassion and physical stamina are also necessary traits for the job.
Horse trainers, also called equine trainers, teach horses the skills necessary to perform where they are needed, whether it is a small riding stable, working ranch or racetrack. The trainers help horses learn to wear a saddle and bridle and to learn verbal and non-verbal commands. They also work with animals' behavior issues such as kicking, biting, bolting or displays of dominance. Trainers monitor their horses' nutrition, feeding habits and overall health, reporting any concerns to a veterinarian. Proficient riding abilities are usually required. In some settings, there may be weight requirements for trainers.
Horse trainers work in a variety of settings, including public and private riding stables, racing stables, farms, ranches, rodeos, breeders' stables and for equine programs offered at academic institutions. Trainers work directly with horses and may also work with jockeys, horse owners and riders. They may perform duties such as grooming and cleaning stables, or they may supervise others performing this work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for animal trainers will increase by about 11% annually through 2024. There are no figures available specifically for horse trainers. The 11% increase in jobs is slightly higher than average when compared to all other fields.