So you have an interest in horses and want a job that involves working with them? Well in Ireland you tend to be presented with three options – be a riding school instructor, be a racehorse jockey or become an international show jumper. But is that really it, is there nothing else?
Of course there are more jobs we know that (now) but it does take a bit of exploring to find the less familiar jobs out there. One of the things that I really enjoy about writing this blog, is that I can travel around, meet people who are doing different kinds of horse related jobs and write about them!! So here is an overview of some of the kinds of work that you could do if you’re leaving school and looking for a career in the equine industry (or perhaps a little bit older and looking for a change in life.)
The obvious choice for me to start with. The internet has seen a massive growth in people using the internet (currently estimated at 3 billion worldwide and growing daily). People use it to find out information, buy things and connect with others who share their passion. For this reason most equine businesses have a website with the aim of reaching more customers, but in order to keep a website active information needs to be constantly updated and this is where a blog becomes an important part of this.
There are jobs for equine writers who work freelance and may write for lots of other companies and websites. There are then those writers that have their own blog site and/or guest blog on other pages. Either way if you enjoy sharing your stories and writing about horses then blogging could be for you.
Similar to blogging in some ways, equine journalists write for specific magazines and online webpages that cover equine events and features. Organisations such as the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists provide networking opportunities for budding journalists. The British Equestrian Writers Association is part of the Sports Journalists Association and aims to support both writers and photographers covering horse events.
The expansion of the internet, with an estimated billion users worldwide and improvements in digital photography has meant that there is a global audience that has high expectations of photography. The growth in social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are based on people wanting to see images rather than read lots of words. This is definitely the era of the image, and the better the image the more the demand.
Similar to the next section on equine art, in order to make a business from the work you probably need to develop your own business, including building a website and begin to gather your own fans of your work. Social media especially Pinterest and Instagram are valuable forums to join.
Equine Artist (sculpting, painting, print work)
I love art especially painting and I do have a special interest in promoting equine art through this
site. An affiliate site that I work closely with and promote is Society 6 where any artist can set up an account and sell their work through this online gallery. Other options for selling your art include building your own website / blog site and then using social media forums such as Twitter Pinterest or Facebook to connect with others and direct them to your website.
Traditional outlets such as stalls at horse events and equestrian shows are another way, like most social media work these days, it’s about building a following and being able to promote your work to an audience that has been cultivated and developed over time.
Equine Business – Shop / Online
Nowadays most equine tack suppliers and other shop based businesses also have a website and an online presence of some kind including Facebook and Twitter accounts. Running a business involves knowledge of the equine industry and the products you are selling, alongside having knowledge of a business. There could be some starter grants available through local enterprise organisations and funding partnerships.
Affiliate marketing – this can be a cheaper alternative to starting your own business. Affiliate marketing involves promoting products from other companies and receiving a commission for anything that is sold. Currently this approach is bigger in the United States but many companies are seeing this as a more effective marketing tool and the equine industry, although slower than other companies is also becoming interested. You need to have your own website for many of the products or use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Small Yard Owner
For many graduates of equine college the first kind of work available is often working in other people’s competition yards. The next step for some is to rent their own yard and manage a small number of horses on livery. A lot of the work can be with young or green horses being brought in for breaking and schooling. Instructing is another way that small yards can bring in income.
Freelance instructor – Insurance can be a large problem for many instructors trying to establish their own yard, one option instead could be to freelance as an instructor first at other equestrian centres or through riding and pony clubs.This is also a way to build up clients before investing in your own centre.
Equine Hospital / Vet / Nurse
Working as a specific equine vet isn’t always possible within general vet practices as most ordinary veterinary clinics wouldn’t have enough clients. However there are places such as Newmarket Equine Hospital where equine specialists operate in a purpose built facility, which is the largest of its type in Europe.
In the UK the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has established a register of specialists with the aim of encouraging veterinary practices to consult registered specialists, including equine nurses and vets. There is also a European register(EVBS) where members have to renew their status every five years and be a practicing specialist within their field.
Equine Nutrition Expert
Equine nutritionists can work with a variety of people including yards, farms, homes and veterinary clinics. Their focus is nutrition but this can also include handling a variety of animal ailments and making assessments of cases. The work can also include developing feeding and supplement schedules.
There is a strong maths and science component to the work and many nutritionists undertake research work looking at developing feeds and supplements. This work may be done with some of the larger feed companies. The information also needs to be communicated to a variety of different people and strong communication skills are also an important part of the job.
Lecturer – Equine College
Across Ireland and Northern Ireland there are a number of Equine colleges such as CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) where students can go, which also means that lecturers are needed. Along with lecturer posts there are also equine course tutors, that college graduates and Level 4 instructors can apply for.