Equine Behavior & Management Careers
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Careers in Equine Behavior & Management

What Fields Incorporate Equine Behavior and Management?
Equine professionals may work for riding stables, training facilities, veterinarian practices or equestrian centers. They may also be self-employed as trainers or behavioral consultants. Here are some of the more common careers working with equine behavior.

Horse Trainers and Behavioral Consultants
Horse trainers prepare horses for riding, racing and equestrian disciplines such as jumping, vaulting and dressage. They may also train horses for various occupations, such as police work, cart pulling and trail work. Trainers can also be instrumental in rehabilitating animals with a history of abuse or trauma.

House trainers bridge the gap between horse and rider. They train horses to accept human contact and commands; they also train people to become more effective equestrians. They require excellent observation skills and a detailed knowledge of equine behavior. They must be able to analyze their horse’s individual and social behaviors; this allows them to avoid or correct problems such as biting, kicking or head tossing. Horse trainers evaluate the environment of their animal to effectively manage the environment and prevent behavioral problems before they occur.

Equine consultants may be called in for short term consultations on difficult cases. Consultants are considered to be experts in their field and may be called to testify in court cases involving equine behavior. Many equine consultants also run their own practices as riding instructors, trainers, or veterinarians.

Riding Instructors
Riding instructors teach riding techniques at a variety of levels. Beginning riders need to be taught the basic techniques of riding and controlling their horse. They also have to learn horse care, including saddling, grooming and the proper use of tackle. Advanced riders work to improve their techniques and overall style. They may work on shows and specific equestrian events like jumping or dressage.

Instructors help improve communication between horse and rider. They teach riders how to understand and interpret their horse’s behavior. Advanced instructors may offer clinics and travel to competitions to coach their students. Some instructors work in equine assisted therapy, partnering with therapists to provide equine activities that promote physical and psychological health. These activities can be particularly helpful for clients with serious physical or developmental challenges.

Barn and Facility Managers
Barn managers oversee a whole host of human and equine issues simultaneously. They require excellent people skills to work with both owners and employees. They work with veterinarians, suppliers, farriers and other professionals. On the equine side, they must be thoroughly versed in horse behavior in order to maximize animal welfare and minimize behavioral problems.

Managers need to recognize the signs of impending aggression towards both humans and other horses, as well as any indicators of stress or anxiety. Managers must also be quick to identify diseases and other health issues. Many health problems result from nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. Thus, they must be able to determine proper diets for horses of every sex, age and condition.

Veterinary Practices
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians deal with behavioral issues daily. Most health issues produce behaviors that can be the key to early detection and treatment of disease. Furthermore, many horse owners may be creating health or behavioral problems simply because they don't understand their animals. A solid foundation in training and behavior allows veterinary staff to identify and correct many of these problems. Some technicians have developed behavioral specialties, learning to work with owners and equine facilities to structure the environment in ways that improve behavior and increase their horses’ welfare.

Future Opportunities
The outlook for professionals in animal care and service, including animal trainers, is excellent. Employment in these areas is expected to grow 11% over the 2016-26 decade, faster than the average for all occupations (source: U.S. Department of Labor). Salaries vary greatly based on the specific field or employer. For example, independent  trainers giving private lessons may work for $20-50/hour or more. Animal care staff working in other fields may earn considerably less. Sample positions include:

  • Horse trainer
  • Barn manager
  • Riding instructor
  • Stallion manager
  • Broodmare manager
  • Horse breeder
  • Groomer
  • Farrier
  • Dude ranch wrangler
  • Outrider
  • Equine veterinarian
  • Equine veterinary technician

If you have a professional interest in Equine Behavior & Management, you may want to explore one or more of these associations for additional information.

Students and alumni have access to additional career information and searchable job postings.

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