Elevating your equestrianism: How to take your hobby to the next level
From choosing your dream role to working out how to get there, Katie Allen-Clarke from Horse & Country shares her tips for taking your interest in equestrianism from a hobby to a career.
Equestrianism can be an incredibly rewarding hobby, so it's no surprise that you want to take it up as a career. While the route from hobby into professional equestrianism may seem daunting, with enough determination and willingness to learn, you can elevate your passion to the next level.
Before you get started, you'll need to work out what kind of career path you want to follow. Different roles require different skillsets and qualifications, so it's important to do your research now before you take the plunge.
To help you get started, I've put together my top tips for making your love for horses a viable career.
Choosing a role
There are so many career paths you could follow in equestrianism. From sports, healthcare, grooming, and farriery to stable management, instructing, and horse transport, there's a whole range of jobs suitable for a wide variety of skillsets. So, even if you're not an overtly confident rider, you can still have a future working with horses.
It's good to remember that there are options out there for any skill level, including beginners, so you don't necessarily need to already be a pro in the area you’re interested in. However, you will need to be passionate about the discipline that appeals to you and be prepared to work hard, as it’s a very competitive sector.
A good way to work out which role is right for you is by identifying your strengths and interests. For example, if you're keen on the care and maintenance side of horse riding, then perhaps grooming or healthcare is an area you could pursue.
As another example, if you’re passionate about schooling horses and training them up, you might want to make your living as trainer – with or without another rider on board!
If you're not quite sure on the kind of career you'd like to go into, it might be helpful to pick out a few that pique your interest and talk to professionals in that area. They can tell you about their day-to-day roles and what kinds of skills and qualifications you need for the job, so you can work out which option suits you best.
Developing your skills
Once you've decided what kind of role you want to go into it's time to start developing your skills. Remember that turning a passion into a profession can take years of hard work and training, but it's all worth it to pursue a career in something you're excited about. Enthusiasm and determination can go a long way in equestrianism and having a willingness to learn can help you up your skill level quickly.
The more experience you can get the better, so it's worth taking every opportunity you can (within reason). This could mean upping your training regime to include a mixture of ridden and non-ridden work, taking part in work experience and internships, and getting any relevant qualifications to put on your CV. If you're thinking of taking up a more specialised focus, it might help to attend classes, to learn the ins and outs of the industry. In some lines of work, it’s an absolute must to be qualified and with a registered governing body, so make sure you do your homework on this in the first instance.
Whatever training you do, it's a good idea to get advice from the experts in your chosen field, including a mixture of current and ex-pros. Not only will they be a great support to you, but they can also offer tips and advice to help you on the road to success. Even if you can't train with a pro directly, there are often plenty of masterclasses online that are available via video, so you can still get a good level of training. However, as with everything online these days, make sure you’re getting a well-rounded view of the topic from multiple sources.
Choosing the right equipment
Getting the right skills and experience is important when developing a career in equestrianism, but investing in the right equipment can also make all the difference.
If you're thinking of becoming a professional rider, you'll need to make sure you have all the relevant tack and clothing. For example, in high level sport such as show jumping and dressage, there may be a requirement to have a certain style of saddle that is designed to help you find the right position while jumping or riding. It's worth investing in these as soon as you’re certain you want to train in this area, as not only will they keep you and your horse comfortable during training and competitions, but you’ll need to find out which equipment helps you both perform at your best.
Even if you're not planning on taking up a riding career, there still may be some essential equipment you'll need that will help you succeed in your chosen discipline. For example, if you're thinking of becoming a farrier or saddler, you'll need to have a full set of tools to be able to do the job properly.
Getting the right qualifications
Once you've chosen your discipline, worked out how you're going to develop your skills, and have picked the right equipment, you'll then need to gain any relevant qualifications. Some careers may require you to have up-to-date credentials before you start work. The equestrian job market can also be very competitive, so getting the right qualifications alongside your work experience can give you a competitive edge over other applicants.
If you're taking up a career that is governed by a regulatory body, you'll need to make sure you have the right certifications and training. For example, if you'd like to become an equine dentist, you'll need to pass an exam with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) or British Veterinary Dental Association (BVDA) before you can join the British Association of Equine Dental Technicians (BAEDT).
Another example is if you're thinking of becoming a horse transporter. To take it up as a career, you'll need to apply for a Certificate of Competence for Drivers or Attendants before you apply for Animal Transporter Authorisation. If you want to become a type two transporter (for journeys longer than eight hours), you may also need to complete a test and have your vehicle inspected to make sure it is safe for horses.
For some roles, qualifications are not essential, but can ensure that you're fully trained up to the relevant standard and make following your career path much easier. For example, if you've chosen to become a riding instructor, it can help to have a qualification from the British Horse Society (BHS) or the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS).
A career in equestrianism can be an incredibly rewarding experience. And, if you take on board some of the tips in this guide, you’re on your way to taking your hobby to the next level.
Now that you know to start your career in equestrianism, it's time to start training. Whether you need to hire horse transport, a self-drive horsebox, or are looking for overnight stabling, just take a look at the options available at HayNet.