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Careers with horses

From: Kathy

My daughter is only 13 years old but is thinking of pursueing a career with horses. We are collecting information from many college programs for her to digest and think about during the next several years. Do you have any sugestions in this area? She works 20 hours a week at the stables now, earning her lessons. She is homeschooled and spends much of her time reading about horses in her studies. Her instructor is very conscientious and is teaching her about all aspects of horse care, riding and management.

Dear Kathy -- I'll give your daughter the same advice I give my own students: try to find a career that will interest you, and preferably one that does NOT involve horses! It's possible to have a career with horses, certainly, but many horse professionals will tell you that their work allows them very little time (or money) to pursue their own horse interests. Working with horses also requires a certain amount of physical fitness and fairly robust health -- most happy, successful horse professionals work for themselves, and there are no "sick days" for the self-employed, only days on which they earn no money!

If your daughter truly wants to be a vet, or a farrier, or a race rider, or anything else in the horse industry, she will have to be prepared to have very little time for her own pursuits, whether they are equestrian or other interests. There are ways of turning a college education to use in the equine industry, however -- and I would strongly suggest college FIRST. Is she interested in art, education, business, marketing, writing? There are so many different ways of taking a degree and giving it a horse-related twist... but it IS a good idea to get the degree in any case.

There's a new book out that you and your daughter should look at together. It's called 50 CAREERS WITH HORSES, by Bonnie Kreitler, and it's available from Breakthrough Publications. This will give both of you a good idea of what options are available.

If your daughter has specific interests and would like some advice on fitting them in with a horse career or a horse hobby, I'll be happy to help.

- Jessica

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