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Making a living in the horse industry...

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Me and the bf got into a discussion tonight about making a living in the horse industry. Teaching/training is all I want to do. My family isnt horsey, we dont own a barn or any horses for that matter. He says theres no way to make a living off it, therefore it isnt a reasonable carrer choice....

So I guess my question it possible to make a living in this industry? I want to teach/train...Id like to own my own barn one of these days. Im living in a relativley non-horsey place right now..but Im not staying here my whole life.

For those of you out there who are doing do you do it? Do you own the barn you teach out of? Does your SO have a job that helps support that horsey habit? Or are you completley self-sufficient and make anough money to pay for your horses/barn and other expenses?

He thinks Im just rushing into it blindly...

Anyone have any suggestions?

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Anything is possible if you are smart and put your mind to it...

My example:

check out the website This is a barn not far from me. My daughter and I took lessens there for a short time and I am thinking about going back this winter.

The owner/trainer only started riding in college, so she was not someone raised horsey. Now she has a great and successful barn. She has constant goals and she tends to meet them. She researched everything before she started and decided it was a better idea to rent barn instead of owning.

This is my example that it can be done. Make sure you do your research and be sure there is a market for what you want to do.

Good Luck

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its hard....and you better have money to start with.we train race horses,and run a fairly successful stable.the money goes out as fast as it comes in.

we still rent because getting a loan is darn near impossible when that is the only source of income.if we are lucky we will be in a position at the end of next year to possibly buy a house.thats after a lot of careful saving.

last year the horses alone made almost 180 grand,we split what they make with our owner instead of him paying a training bill.the other 2 owners pay a bill of 30 a day.out of it we pay:

the help

the feed bills(hay sawdust grain)

our half of vet bills

our half of shoe bills


our half of stakes fees

tack shop bills

buy equipment

maintain vehicles and pay insurance




stall rent at track

raise 3 growing boys

its a struggle sometimes because you have periods of doing very well,then you might be lucky to win a race for god knows how there always has to be money put back for all the things i mentioned above,you cant do it paycheck to paycheck.

i started out in the riding industry,and you have to be able to manage your money well and be well organized.running a barn takes the ability to have to know everything.....what your employess are doing,how every horse is doing,what needs fixed/replaced,you have to be scheduled within an inch of your life to keep everyone owners are for the most part a fickle,picky lot(how many posts do we see about unhappy boarders?)and they pay you to provide a service to them.and they all want their moneys worth.i managed a dressage boarding barn for almost 2 years.i was never so glad to get out of there....nobody was happy because they all thought every other boarder was getting something better than they were [Duh] .the stress was incredible.

your best bet is to go to work,apprentice is a good word here,for a successful trainer or barn owner who is well known and well liked.ask a lot of questions about barn management,nutrition,horse health.find out if you would really enjoy running your own business,or if you even have the capability.

good luck!

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Not hard... dang near impossible!

If you can, get an apprenticeship with a trainer. I don't know what area you like - there are usually several western trainers around here who are looking for good help.

"Good help" means someone who is there 6 or 7 days a week, from 7 am to 9 pm, feeding, cleaning stalls, cleaning trailers, cleaning tack, lots of cleaning involved! Doesn't grumble, is willing to learn, take criticism well, do what they're told WHEN they're told... all for about $750 a month.

If you can do that, if you can sacrifice EVERYTHING in your life for several years, just for the horses, you might be able to make it.

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It's very difficult.

Much of it is how much money you go in with. Most people trying to break in as instructors are barely breaking even (and often survive with a second job and a partner also earning money).

Sometimes you can find jobs at existing stables that are live-in and have benefits, but that's pretty rare.

And around here, you may as well forget about running your own place straight out of the box, as property is so insanely expensive. The only way to do it is to rent stable space from someone else.

And reputation is everything- lacking startup money, it's all about who you know and your reputation dictating your success rate. If you spend some years as a working student for a big name, and get a lot of horses into the ring and succeed, it's much easier to get going.

The slightest things you do can have an effect on you. Even the "success story" mentioned above has a heck of an online reputation that may or may not cost them business someday. So you have to watch every step you take, be careful what you say, don't burn any bridges, etc.

And lastly, if you get in as an instructor at a stable, you don't get everything that you charge for a lesson- a big chunk of it will go to the stable you work for. If you charge $45 per lesson, the barn may take up to $20 of that. And while $25/hour may sound good, it's not likely you will be getting paid for the equivalent of a 40 hour workweek.

Obviously, the career choice is doable, as some people experience a lot of success, but it's not lucrative for most, and probably the majority of instructors and trainers are barely keeping afloat.

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I am the owner of Pferd Stables. And just for the record, I did not start riding in college. I rode all throughout my childhood. Just got serious when I went to college and decided I loved this industry and the animals that surround it. As far as the online "gossip" well that is about as important as barn "gossip". For the people who know me and have worked around me know that I am a very sensative and endearning individual. Very picky about my horses and very strict when it comes to care of my animals. My business' reputation was built on integrity and honesty. And when it comes to defending my barn and the people who I care about, I will. More to say than for most barn owners. Many people have criticized me for some of my past photography and since then have studied really hard at how to portray a very professional image. My suggestion to you is to listen a little bit about what people say on these chat forums and listen harder at the people who are sucessful in the industry. Your own hard work and diligence is what pays off. A lot of people will tell you what they think you want to hear and very few people will tell you the truth. If you want something bad enough and are willing to study and keep an open mind to change, then anything is possible.

Good luck.

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Oh man I am travelling this road right now and it is HARD. I have a spouse that works and makes good $$$ - but the horses have to be COMPLETELY self supporting. Advertising is essential, getting your horses out and about at shows CAN be really important, or you competing yourself so people "see" who you are. You have to run a tight, neat outfit with quality horses and decent facilities. It takes a **** of a lot of money to do this. On top of all that is feed, farrier, vet, comp fees, equipment... not to mantion the property to do it on. Then you have to think of your "policies" - for example, if little jenny is booked in for a term of lessons and she misses one are you strong enough to say "well - you know the rule is you don't turn up you either do a make-up lesson OR you still pay??"(you would have papaerwork - oh yep the fabulous paperwork side of things, to back this up). THAT is a hard one. You can't keep everyone happy, but if you are giving 10 lessons a week say, and just three of these kids can't come thru being sick, there goes your income. You have to safeguard it withour appearing "money hungry". Youmust run it as a BUSINESS not as "I'm a person who loves horses, loves to teach/train (whatever) so that is what I'll do..." It just will not work that way. Some days, I want to pack it in... others I am over the moon. I am broke (the horses are fed and footed!!!), meaning I am breaking even. In three months, I will be better off. In three months after that I will be cruising... The thing is too, when you start, you can't afford help - I have 8 horses here at the moment - can you imagine yourself feeding, mucking out, riding, teaching on, rugging, unrugging, grooming, checking, medicating, cleaning after and doing general care for BY YOURSELF up to three times a day? It is back-breaking. If you are prepared to do it - go for it and good luck [big Grin] Oh, and you'll need some $$$$$ to buy/lease the horses, equipment and insurance. [Duh]

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