5 Major differences between horses as a hobby and as a career!
They say “choose a career you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, and for a lot of horse lovers a career in the equine industry would be a dream come true. But how different is working with horses to keeping them as a hobby? When making the decision to pursue an equine career, via an Apprenticeship or any other means, it helps to understand not only the options available to you, but at least the basics about what your future work may be like, too. Here we outline 5 key differences between experiencing horses as a hobby and as a career.
1. Working with horses is likely to be more specialised
When you ride or keep horses as a hobby you are likely to gravitate towards the disciplines you most enjoy, for example dressage, show jumping, eventing or carriage driving etc, and essentially equine employers are no different – they tend to specialise in a certain disciplines. However, as an equine job seeker you may need to travel further afield to secure a job in your discipline of choice. If you are tied to a particular location, (for example you want a live out job local to home), you may find less choice in the type of yards recruiting in your commutable area and therefore you may need to open your mind to other disciplines. There are, of course, other yards with horses training and competing in a mix of disciplines, e.g. a Riding School that teaches more advanced lessons, or a “mixed client” Livery Yard.
Working in a discipline specific yard means that you need to get to know more about that yard/particular industry sector, e.g. dressage, or eventing, including:
- fitness and nutrition needs of horses training and competing in specific disciplines
- the maintenance, use and storage of specialist tack and equipment, like massage machines, solar lamps and even yard and farm machinery
- the regular routine of a yard focused on specific disciplines, on a daily, monthly, weekly basis etc
- packing tack, equipment, feed and bedding for trips away to shows, sometimes overnight
- grooming at shows, both the horse’s and the rider’s needs
A good example of this is the stud industry. Working on a stud with stallions, broodmares and if you cover foaling watch won’t be anything like having your own horse, or working weekends at a livery yard or riding school.
Luckily you can choose an apprenticeship to specialise in a particular industry. Find out more by clicking here.
2. You need to be very good at time management
Teamwork, scheduling, delegating and meeting targets and deadlines might be things you believe you are leaving behind by choosing a career in the equestrian industry – and you’d be wrong!
Looking after an entire yard of horses takes a great deal of management, which is why good Sole Charge Grooms, Head Grooms and Yard Managers are so sought after and have the pick of the jobs. A good Head Groom or Manager needs a team of competent, efficient Grooms who can work with one another as part of a slick team, and also use their initiative when working alone.
The fact is, working on a professional yard is not like spending time giving your horse’s stable a good mucking out and pottering about the yard at the weekends. The majority of the time it’s fast-paced and strictly organised by time slots for each job or section of the day. Timing how long it takes to complete tasks like mucking out a stable, mucking out 5 stables, making up hay nets, cleaning tack etc is key to stand any chance of getting everything done at the right time.
Courses to consider:
- Level 2 – Equestrian Apprenticeship Standard Equine Groom
- Level 3 – Equestrian Apprenticeship Standard Senior Equine Groom
Find out more by clicking here.
3. Ask any experienced Groom – at times it can feel relentless!
Anything is more appealing when you have freedom of choice in what you do and when, and spending time with horses is no different.
There will be days at a time where you’ll need to take a couple of fresh changes of clothes, including underwear, because you’ll be soaked right through to your skin more than once in the day, every day, and there’ll be no knocking off early to go and get warm and dry!
There are going to be times when you are feeling tired, under the weather, perhaps a bit stale when you go through spells where the job starts to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. In your leisure time ‘hanging with your horses’ you can decide to mix it up a bit do something different with your horses, or give them the day off and go home to Netflix and chill… when working with horses you’ve just got to get on with it – you will be working to someone else’s established routine! Only teamwork will make the dream work! 😉
This is the point at which I believe some grooms have a mini crisis and leave their job in the misguided belief that they’ll be happier working on another yard. The truth is, ALL jobs feel relentless at times, regardless of what industry or sector you work in! If ever you find yourself feeling like you’re at this point call or email us for an impartial chat about your circumstances and how you feel. We aren’t all about getting you to go to a new job, we are about building equine careers and we can advise you of the pros and cons of changing jobs at any point in your career and, believe me, changing jobs to break the Groundhog Day feeling is highly unlikely to be a good move! Contact The Grooms List team today!
Read more about “job longevity” and the part it plays in your career development by clicking here.
4. Going to shows as a Groom, not a competitor
This has it’s pros and cons, and in many ways is not comparable to going to shows with your own horse, depending on who your rider is and what level they compete at.
The role of a competition groom at shows is entirely different to that of the rider (which you may think is obvious, but please bear with me!) As a competition groom you will quite probably find yourself up earliest in the morning, plaiting up or re-doing plaits that have unravelled overnight or are spiky with straw, battling poo stains after the one night that his rug flips up on his quarters, and scurrying around loading the lorry. As a competition groom you’ll find yourself rivalling Santa Claus for making lists and checking them twice, especially when the show involves overnight stays!
Depending on your driving licence and capabilities, you may drive the horse(s) to the show yourself, alone, with the rider, or with a companion groom. Once at the show you will need to check the horse(s) in, either into stabling or into their classes. You’ll be clock watching like crazy ensuring both horse(s) and rider(s) are ready with plenty of time to warm up. The warm up period may involve lots of rushing about keeping your rider(s) updated on how long they have/how many competitors are before them. Then you will need to care for the horse(s) between and after classes.
When you’re not rushing about, particularly once your horse(s) have competed and are settled for the rest of the day, it can be good fun watching classes, browsing trade stands, eating junk food – but this is not a given. Some shows will be hard work from start to finish! You might be getting home, or turning in if you’re staying over, late at night or in the early hours of the morning. But seeing the horses you care for daily compete, especially at high profile shows, is epic! In many ways it can be just as fun and rewarding to go as a groom and not sit astride a horse all day as it is to compete yourself on your own horse.
If you would like to pursue a career as a competition groom you can find out more by clicking here.
5. Having to do things someone else’s way
As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to crack an egg, and you’ll learn this time and again working in the equine industry. When you’ve cared for your own horses and ponies and you have hard and fast ideas of how to do things, it requires a bit of adaption to take on board other people’s methods and ideas. There will be times that you don’t agree with them or you don’t understand them, but as an apprentice groom you are there to learn, so question everything – not in a confrontational way, obviously, but in the spirit of education. Be open minded. Whether you’re working for a successful professional rider or a busy riding school or livery yard, remind yourself that they haven’t got where they are because they’re doing it wrong! Trust me, over time you’ll learn SO MUCH, there will come a time when you will look back on your old ways and methods and shake your head at how differently you view things now!
Read more about how an apprenticeship can benefit your equine career by clicking here.
Whilst working with horses may, in many ways, be an awful lot different to caring for and riding horses in your leisure time, it doesn’t mean to say you can’t build a successful and rewarding career in the industry you love. With the right guidance and a good dose of determination you can soon find yourself living the dream, and an equine apprenticeship is the perfect foundation to work from!
If you’d like one-to-one, impartial advice on starting or building your career in the equine industry contact The Grooms List team today!