If you love horses and have had some luck working with your own horses, you may be wondering how you might become a horse trainer. Is certification necessary? Are there training programs you can attend? Where should you begin? In this article, we answer these questions and more. Read on to learn more on how to start a horse training business.
What You'll Learn Today
Horse Sense Is The Most Important Element
Horse training is not like other careers. You can’t simply take lessons, read books, watch Youtube videos or DVDs to learn how to do it.
All of these pursuits are helpful, but the most important element in being a good horse trainer is horse sense.
You must be able to connect well with horses, understand what they are thinking and feeling and what motivates them.
You must be able to convey your wishes to them in a way that encourages them to want to join up and cooperate with you.
Experience Is Key
In addition to horse sense, you’ll need to have a lot of experience in order to train a wide variety of horses effectively.
You should spend a lot of time simply observing horses and learning how they interact with one another.
Work in and around stables and keep your eyes open so that you understand everything it takes to care for a horse and become familiar with horses’ responses and reactions to the actions of humans.
Ride as many different types of horses as you can to get a feel for different temperaments and ways of moving. Learn how to ride with all sorts of tack and bareback.
Strive constantly to add to your knowledge and perfect your techniques. When you’re dealing with horses, you will learn something new every day.
No matter how many years you spend working with horses, there is always something new to learn.
Can You Get Certification?
In the past (and even in some cases today) horse trainers often had no education whatsoever. A person who has a natural knack with horses, excellent horse sense and lots of experience can be a very fine trainer.
A person who knows nothing at all can present him or herself as a trainer and do a great deal of damage to a horse.
There are a number of different programs that may offer some certification in horse training. Some of them are through equestrian schools, and even online or through the mail.
It’s also possible to attend a junior-college or even a four-year college and get a degree in equine science or equine management.
This type of education is very valuable, and when combined with good horse sense and lots of experience can result in a very fine trainer.
There are a number of natural horsemanship courses available through many different esteemed horsemen such as Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox, Monty Roberts and more.
The experience and knowledge will from any one of these programs receive can be helpful to you and learning many different ways of dealing with horses of all sorts. The certification can be helpful in securing clients.
If you have an interest in a particular breed of horse, or a particular discipline, you can also look for programs that are available to help you focus in this way.
For example, the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) has its own trainer certificate program. The same is true of many other breeds.
It’s always a good idea to partake of any training available to you. The more certification you can amass, the more impressive you will be to potential clients.
Just remember that no single program will really teach you everything you need to know. Being a horse trainer is a lifelong learning experience.
Good Work Ethic Is An Important Quality
In addition to having horse sense, experience and a collection of certifications, you must also have a good work ethic of your own. When people hire you to train their horses, they expect you to be ethical, honest and skillful.
Before you begin training any horse, you should put together a business plan that clearly outlines exactly what you are offering and what you are charging. Check the rates of other horse trainers in your area to help determine what’s fair.
You should also think about the rate per hour you would like to charge and estimate the number of hours it will take you to provide the services you’re offering. This will help you establish a baseline for rates.
How Do You Get Training Experience?
If you’re serious about being a horse trainer, you should already have quite a bit of experience with your own horses and/or the horses of friends.
At first, you should continue working with project horses and less challenging horses to keep your skills honed.
Be around horses as much as you can and handle them on the ground as much as possible to learn how to deal with horses of different temperaments.
Volunteering at a stables, training program or horseback riding lesson programs can be a good way to get this experience.
Taking care of horses generally with tasks such as breezing, exercising, grooming, feeding and even mucking out stalls can provide invaluable experience for an aspiring horse trainer.
Remember that every time you handle a horse or interact with it in any way, you are providing some form of training.
Even if you’re not trying to teach, the horse will learn something from you. Take care that what you’re teaching is not something that will need to be untaught at a later date.
One excellent way to become a good horse trainer is to first be an apprentice. Look for a horse trainer who trains in a way that you admire and offer your services as an apprentice.
Although you probably won’t be paid for this work, you will be receiving free lessons. You can observe the trainer at work and learn about every aspect of the business from pricing, to ethics, to groundwork, to time in the saddle.
Keep An Open Mind And Be Curious
Although there is no cut-and-dried path to becoming a horse trainer, there are many avenues. Keep an open mind about horse training, take in every experience you can. Decide what sorts of techniques and practices you prefer and admire.
This approach may expose you to some bad horse training techniques and some excellent once. Take what you need and leave the rest to develop your own, unique and personalized method of horse training.
If you’re considering other horse related businesses, check out this guide.
How To Become A Horse Trainer
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional horse training is the old-fashioned method of training (or breaking) a horse. The focus of this type of training is to control and subdue the horse and teach it to follow direction instead of following its instincts. The goal of this type of horse training is to produce reliable work horses in a relatively short amount of time.
This type of training focuses on interaction and relationship between horse and trainer/rider. A successful natural horsemanship trainer is a keen observer who understands horse psychology. The focus is to connect with the horse and encourage it to want to work with you. This sort of training is a lifelong process in which both horse and rider learn a great deal.
Join-Up is a horse training method developed by former jockey and equestrian stunt man, Monty Roberts, who was called upon to work with Queen Elizabeth to develop a training program for the royal family’s horses. Roberts’ father was a well-known traditional horse trainer (breaker).
Join-Up is a combination of traditional and natural horsemanship in which the trainer free lunges the horse in a round pen, keeping the horse moving until the horse exhibits relaxation cues, such as lip-smacking and lowering its head. At this point, the horse is said to be ready to approach and join up (work with) the trainer who then commences to work on walking with, handling, grooming, saddling and eventually riding the horse. Use of a safe, secure round pen is essential to this type of training.
This method of horse training was developed by American horseman, Pat Parelli and his wife, Linda. This is a program that focuses more on training people than training horses. It is based in the thesis that a good horse trainer must thoroughly understand horse behavior and psychology and must master the “4 Savvies”:
– On Line training
– Liberty training
– FreeStyle training
Clicker training is a method of horse training that relies upon positive reinforcement to elicit desired behaviors. In this type of training, food rewards are given along with an audible click to let the horse know he has successfully accomplished the task at hand. The use of food reinforcements is controversial and can result in dangerous, spoiled behavior. Use of pets and praise along with clicker reinforcement may yield better results as explained in this article.