Breaking into the Horse Industry – What Aspiring Trainers Should Know
Walking away from college baseball teams, a career in teaching and a D1 soccer offer – these are just some of the sacrifices that Houston Huff, Jessica Noiseux, and Kaitlin Hutchinson had to make to pursue their passion of training horses.
“Plain and simple, I just love riding horses more,” Huff an assistant trainer at Masterson Farms, said.
Anyone who has a love of riding and showing, dreams about being able to ride all day, every day. After years of hard work, Huff, Noiseux, and Hutchinson get to do exactly that.
The horse industry is vast, and it can be frustrating to navigate, but this can be less of an issue by working hard and asking the right questions.
“As a kid, I didn’t really ever know about the opportunities available in the horse industry,” Hutchinson, who co-owns and operates Hutchinson Performance Horses with her husband, said, “but there are so many out there to be found.”
Here are a few things you should know if you want to find and pursue those opportunities.
Make sure you have the drive
Training horses for a living isn’t all blue ribbons and trophies. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours behind the scenes. If you are pursuing a career in the equine industry, you must possess the passion in order to push through the rough patches.
“When I was about 13, I told my mom I wanted to train horses,” Hutchinson said. “So she sent me to work for our horse trainer to saddle, lunge, feed, and do other barn work. She thought that after a few weeks of seeing the hard work, I would change my mind. Needless to say, it didn’t.”
Pursuing his passion was worth it to Huff.
“I’d say it’s more of a passion [than a job] because I love it so much,” Huff said. “Getting to ride horses and help them reach their potential is so gratifying, as well as being able to help others with their horses. Knowing all the work I put into it, and then seeing and feeling the product of that work, in both horses and riders, is very rewarding to me.”
The hardest part is starting. The first step to getting involved professionally within the industry is to start asking questions. One question can lead to a world of possibilities.
“Just keep knocking on the door,” Noiseux, who works at Powder Brook Farm as an assistant trainer, said. “Some days, it feels impossible to have a breakthrough in this industry, but just keep presenting a version of yourself that represents the professional you want to be.”
It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, so don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. Often, asking the right person can get you started.
Keep your head up
“Don’t get discouraged, just keep trying to do your best and learn and improve,” Noiseux said. “Expect to go through a lot of ups and downs. Some days you may get so frustrated or worn out that you second guess your decision to be in this business. Stick it out, wait for the glimmer of hope that tells you you’re getting somewhere. That’s what will keep you coming back for more.”
Expect to make some sacrifices
Huff gave up playing on a D2 baseball team to chase his dreams of being a trainer. Noiseux walked away from her education in teaching. But that’s not the only sacrifice they have had to make.
Being a trainer is time-consuming, and horses don’t take holidays, so time is one of the most significant sacrifices equine professionals make.
“The hardest part about this business and our schedule is all the things you miss out on,” Noiseux said. “Trips with family, birthdays, even holidays. I went to school to be a teacher, and that would have been a totally different lifestyle for me. But I don’t feel I sacrificed anything, I feel I gained a lot by getting to do a job I love.”
Be a sponge
There are so many things to learn about horses, and if you want to make it in the industry, you need to know everything you can.
“Work hard and learn as much as you can from as many people as you can,” Hutchinson said.
Huff agreed. “You will never know everything,” he said. “Learn every day from as many people as you can. Never think you’re too good to keep learning, even if it’s learning what not to do.”
Money can’t be the only reward
“The best part of my job is when you can see the results of your hard work, like teaching a young horse something new, or having a rider figure something out you’ve been working on and be able to apply it,” Noiseux said. “At the end of the day, the rewards in this business are great, and that’s what keeps most people doing it.”
Overall, this industry can be a tough one to get started in. But, if you put in enough blood, sweat, and tears, it will be well worth it in the end.