Parental Horseshit

by Judge Josh on November 23, 2010

Elayne wants to be a horse trainer. But you know how it is with horse training — like its sister occupations, exotic dancing and prostitution, parents will stop at nothing to keep their children out of this sinister line of work.

Or so it appears.

I know you’ve answered this type of question a lot of times before, but I’m just going to bother you with it again.

parental-horseshit

Forget horses, Elayne. Train UNICORNS. They attract rainbows.


Hey, go for it…maybe it’ll be easier for me to answer today if I’ve answered it a few times already! :) I could use an easy day today. I’m already feeling the holiday laziness set in.

So. For about two or three years of my high school life, I’m set on going to college for botanical conservation, aka a park ranger who’s smart in plants.

That sounds exactly like a job someone in high school thinks she would like — and then switches to something else later because there just aren’t too many jobs like that and therefore are extremely hard to get.


Come my senior year, I realize…it’s not where my passion lies.

Or, that.

It’d be just a job I have to do because everyone else has stable jobs and that’s what’s expected of you by, essentially, everyone.

Well, let me stop you quickly and say:

a) I’m not really sure that’d be too stable of a job, actually. It’s a government job, usually, so the benefits are probably good. But botanical conservation isn’t quite a sacred cow, so I could see those jobs getting slashed at some point when your state’s budget is underwater. And unless you live in Wyoming or North Dakota — your state’s budget is currently underwater. :)

b) Stability is great, but not essential. I’m sure you know this already, but it really doesn’t mean a damn what anyone else “expects” of you. In terms of career choice, you don’t really owe anyone anything except yourself. Or, as the refrigerator magnets say, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

But it won’t bring me happiness. I want to LOVE my job. I want to wake up every morning and smile, because I know I’m doing something with my life that I won’t regret.

Well, I can’t promise you that you’ll actually love your job, but you’ve certainly got a better chance of that actually happening in your current frame of mind (that of seeking what you love, etc.). So you’re already a leg up on most folks.

I’ll save you the suspense, it’s equine studies. I really want to become a horse trainer, and go to college for that.

OK. My initial reaction is that you might be able to do that without actually going to college, but I don’t know. I know that a lot of horse trainers get their horse-training “education” on the job rather than in the classroom, so that’s just something to keep in mind while you make your decision.

Now, my parents disagree greatly with this decision.

Uh-oh.

They believe I will be heading into a poverty level job of shoveling horse shit day in and day out, with no health or any other benefits.

Hmm. Well:

a) You may very well be headed toward a low-paying job, but if the satisfaction of your job outweighs your inability to have big piles of money in your bank account, then that’s your business and yours alone.

b) You definitely will be shoveling horseshit every day; however, no horse trainer I’ve ever known (and yes, I’ve actually known a few — my uncle was a really, really good one) has ever minded that part of the job. If you’ve ever owned dogs, you’ve probably gotten used to cleaning up their dogshit in the backyard. Big deal.

c) Health benefits will either come from your full-time job, or you can buy an individual policy on your own (they’re expensive, but you can still buy them). You can obtain medical care if you need it here in the U.S., so there’s no reason to think you’ll go untreated if you decide to venture into the horse industry.

They want what’s best for me, I know, they just want me to have a good life without difficulties. But I want to be happy. And I know this would.

Well, here’s a website I found with descriptions of various horse-industry jobs and also job listings.

They have said their final word on it. That I am either going to the college they want me to go to, or they are disowning me.

Are you f**king serious? They’re going to DISOWN you over wanting to train horses?

Sounds melodramatic,

Yeah, just a little.

but that’s the direct words.

Well then, first of all, I’m very sorry to hear that you have such shitty parental support. You deserve better than that. In fact, you could be spitting in people’s food at Quizno’s while sleeping with your married manager and taunting his wife with the details anonymously via email — and you still wouldn’t deserve to be disowned by your parents.

Cost and expenses aren’t going to effect my decision at all, so there’s no point in really discussing those. (Both are cheap enough that could go to both nearly debt free).

Well, that’s one bright spot in this conversation!

So I’m just at a loss. I feel abandoned by my family for pursuing what makes me happy, all for the sake of money.

Well, man…I don’t know what to say about your family. I mean, I do, but I don’t want to go off on some 1,000-word rant about people I don’t know and for whom you probably still feel some deep affection despite the fact that they’re acting like complete dickheads toward you right now.

I guess I’ll just say this: you’ve got friends, and you’ve got family, and they both are supposed to serve basically the same role in life, which is to love and support you unconditionally (within reason).

You can choose your friends, but unfortunately, you can’t choose your family. Your friends support & love you first, then your relationship becomes permanent. With family, though, the relationship is permanent from the beginning, and then sometimes it takes ’em a while to grow into that love-and-support thing.

Not that it soothes the current ache, but in my experience, these things tend to work themselves out in time. Parents tend to outgrow the “I disown you” stage — even when it’s over something serious, and not their minor child’s course of study.

Until then, though — you’ve got a decent plan in place, I think. It’s a career you think you’ll enjoy that you can pursue without any student loan debt. Hell, that’s more than a decent plan, actually — it sounds excellent.

What’s the worst that can happen? You can study equine science, come out, start to view horses not with love but as your mortal enemies, and then be all of what, 23 years old? You can start over from there if need be. Many people — including many readers of this site — have started over much, much later than that.

So go for it, and good luck as a horse trainer. Come back often and let us know how it goes!!

Thanks for your advice,
Elayne

You’re welcome. Hope it helps, and hope your folks re-own you soon. 😉

— OK, everyone. What do you think Elayne should do? Are her parents nuts, or am I being too critical? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley November 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm

My advice to her would be to go out and find a horse trainer in your area that you can talk to and possible work for before you decide to say screw what my parents think and become one. I’ve actually worked as a trainer for about a couple of months last year when i was between jobs. It is hard work. one thing you need to consider is how much riding experince you have now. If you have been riding and training for year like i have then i would go to school not to major in equine science but to major is business. most of the riding class in college are actually pretty basic. a friend of my goes to Morhead in Kentucky and after riding saddle seat for about a year was considered and advanced rider. I have seen some of the course requirements and i could actually teach most of the upper level classes. and if you major in like a agribusiness if you can’t find work as a trainer you might find work on the actual business side which is normally where the money is at. if you are just starting to learn to ride you should rethink this idea right now. no amount of class at a college will give you the skills you need to train horses. you are way better off working with a train to prefect your riding skills and hopfully be able to help trian with that person. that way you also have your foot in the door with someone that is already in the business. and one last thing like i said before make sure you absolutely love it. you we come home everyday smelling like horse and dirty as can be. if you haven’t ever come off a horse you will and let me tell you it will hurt. it is long hours in the elements. you don’t want to get a couple month into the job after going to school for 2-4 year and realize that it is not for you.

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Emmanuel November 24, 2010 at 3:15 am

Dear Elayne,

Ashley is the only guy who had offered you a real advice here. Do not listen to people advising you against you parents’ advice.
Yes you have family and friends who may both support you through. There is a parable in my local language: “When corpse start smelling it is only the owner that stay”. Remember the only people who love truely and unconditionally is your family. From infancy to date. They carried your shift, endured sleepless nights. When you were sick they were with you. They paid your way through school to this point. Understand your parents. Nobody want his or her daughter to risk prostitution.

Do not be under any illusion that you will be happy in this job. More than 50% of graduates work in jobs other than their first degree.

Obedience brings joy and fulfilment. My friend obey your parents. This is what the Law says.

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MM November 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I agree with Josh’s advice & comments. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for parents to “disown” (i.e., emotionally or physically abandon) their kids for daring to be themselves. It’s why I’m going back to school for a second career as a clinical psychologist….

I say go for your passion and see where it leads you. You’re young and you may find that it’s exactly what you want to do with your life, or you may find you’ve changed your mind. That is all OK. The only piece of advice I might give you is to consider going to a school that has other options if you decide that the horse training thing isn’t really what you want for yourself. That would save you the hassle of transferring to another school. BUT, decisions like this can be undone. Like Josh said, even if you decide to switch careers after 2, 5, or even 10 years training horses, that’s totally ok.

Then again, I may be a bit biased: My grandmother cut her sons out of the family inheritance if they didn’t become doctors, engineers, or lawyers…..

MM

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Brianna November 23, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Here’s my suggestion…

Go to college. Get a degree. Business would be a solid choice, because plenty of horse people I know – especially boarding barn owners, but also some trainers – just don’t know how to run a good business. I’m not so sure that going for Equine Studies is going to get you anywhere: for one, I don’t imagine an ES degree is really going to get you a job that you couldn’t get with experience in the horse world, and second, I’m not sure an ES degree will get you much of anything else. Still, your call, and it might be a good degree if you’re interested in things like running a big farm or breeding.

THEN: go be a working student for a top-quality barn in your chosen discipline, whatever it is. I don’t know if western barns do the same thing, but there are MANY dressage, eventing, show jumping operations that have WS programs. It’s basically an apprenticeship – you usually get living space, free board for a horse, lots of lessons, and an invaluable education in running a training operation in exchange for slave labor. Work hard, ask lots of questions, don’t complain.

If you still love it and want to be a trainer, great. The skills and connections you pick up as a WS will be invaluable, and you may be able to leverage your experience into becoming an assistant trainer at a larger operation before setting off on your own. If you find out that you really love horses but you just don’t want to be a trainer, also great. You had a once in a lifetime experience, learned a ton, and you’ve worked your butt off so now you have a boss who will give you a glowing recommendation when you go out and use your degree to look for a different job.

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Stephanie November 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I don’t know your parents, but them saying they’ll actually disown you over wanting to be a horse trainer sounds way over the top. So I’m wondering if they’re just using the disowning threat as a scare tactic? Maybe they’re hoping that if they say they’ll disown you if you do the horse thing then you’ll study whatever they want.

I know this is a touchy issue but, if I were you, I’d probably go for horse training and hope things work out. Your parents will probably be pissed off at you for the first several months or year or so but, unless they don’t love you at all, they should come around. Why? Because you’re their daughter; it’s as simple as that. And because you never actually did anything wrong (murder, drugs, etc.). And, as much as I hate to say this, if your parents never re-own you and always refuse to let you pursue your passions in life, they may not be people that you want in your life anyway.

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Lori November 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I understand the passion and the desire for the work. I have been there. I know the work and the risks. What happens when you get hurt? It happens to trainers. Some injuries are more serious than others. Some can and will end your career as a trainer. I would know about this. Please, whatever you do, get an education so you can survive when you are no longer able to train. If you are one of the extremely lucky few who have a long career, having an education will only enhance your life experience.

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Liz November 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Don’t go to college to learn about horses, go to the horses. Horses have always been a great passion of mine, and I can tell you that all the horse trainers I have known have gathered their substantial experience through working directly with horses. I’ve never even heard of anyone going to college for it (this is in Norway, though, don’t know about where you are). I think you should take a year off from school, and see if you can get a job working with horses somewhere. It’ll give you lots of experience, you’ll meet plenty of people who know what you need to do to get a job in the horse industry, and you’ll know if it’s something you want to devote your life to. Several of my friends did this, and most of them realized that, although it was one of their greatest passions, they didn’t want to work with horses as a career. It is hard work, little pay, and you will most likely have to deal with more spoiled little brats than you ever thought was possible. And as the commenter above me pointed out, if you don’t have a lot of experience as a rider, DON’T GO TO COLLEGE for this! I can’t think of anyone who’d wan’t to be trained by someone with a college degree and no actual experience, and I don’t think you’ll be able to get a job easily. I’ve been riding for a really long time, and I’ve had my own horse for years, but most of the trainers I know dropped out of high school to work their asses off for years – we’re talking 10 hours a day, six to seven days a week (if you are training horses, you are training them every day) – to finally be trainers and make OK money. I’m sure that if you came in with a fancy college degree and no actual experience in the industry, they would not look at you twice.

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Amanda November 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I think you’ve been played on this one, Judge.

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AJ November 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I think you should as both a parent and as a child who was disowned by her parents on job choices. Bring up a list of stables in your area and visit with them, take your parents along, so they can see first hand how a degree (yes there is degrees in various horse husbandry) can lead toward a very lucrative business. It does depend on location and the economy but people will almost always have horses and owning your own stable can lead to a breeding/stud farm or the race tracks or the Olympics some day. If it is your dream and you can prove to your parents that this isn’t something that will change two years down the road and they still refuse to believe that your for real, then you have to be prepared to accept the end results. But don’t attempt to get a degree in a field you don’t like just because they think it is something you should do. Live your dream…

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Leeja November 23, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Have you ever considered being a large animal vet who specializes in horses? I’m sure there are some great programs you could get into that will be a decent distance from home. I don’t know where you live, but Auburn University is one of the top large animal veterinary programs in the country. Sure, the summers are hotter than hell around here, but it’s a great education, and since it’s a land grant school, the tuition is very affordable.

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Dan November 23, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Elayne, i can udnerstand your position completetly with yuor parents. mine are the same way because I in college for marine biology so i can work with sea animals and (hopefully train them). but my support from my parents is less then steller with them mocking me for the EXACT same thing that i’m going to be fgetting paid lousy amount for cleaning up crap all day.

They forgot one thing though, i know what i want to do and its something i’ve wanted since before i could remember anything else. what they say are just words, and words alone. If they want to do that, then its their loss. I’m going to be happier then some person sitting in a cubicle all day doing boring mindless work they can’t stand just because they need money.

However, i know the job your describing can pay very very well. My best friend who now lives in Canada, trains horses for the RCMP and she loves every single day of her job and she gets enough to pay off every year of her University on the spot. Everyone can bug you for the dreams you might have, but its only because they lost their chance or don’t have the will to get them. Stay strong and you’ll do pretty well in that field.

One word of advice that gets you hired: EXPERIENCE! work every single day you can at a farm or places with horses. a degree is worthless with out the experience.

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Chris Patrick November 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm

To be completely honest, that is the dumbest reason to disown your child. Your training horses! What the hell dude! I’m sorry though I have to keep it 100%. Your not selling your soul to Satan or your not on the corner doing God knows what. Your training horses! Simple as that.

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Allie November 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I think she should let her parents disown her. That is so ridiculous it defies any amount of reason I could possibly try to put to it. Go be a horse person, girl.

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Frank November 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Coming from a person that has been around horses for all my life this comes to me as a shock. I think that she really needs to sit and talk with her parents and that it is her choice with what she wants to do in her life. If this is really what she wants to do I say go do it. I think her parents are over reacting and that given time they will come around and respect her choice. If I were her I would make sure I have a job and go talk to a trainer and get some advice about that life style. So after she got a job she needs to move out to a place that she can find work as a trainer and and start her life from there.

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Anna November 24, 2010 at 2:41 am

I go to a college with an excellent Equine Science program, a great equestrian team, and nice horse arena. I’m a dairy/communication person myself but I have a lot of friends who are Equine Science majors. Some are pre-vet and want to be a vet specializing in horses, some want to run their own barn someday, some want to be trainers, and some want to go into the industry (nutrition, sales, etc.). From what I can tell, the trainers have it the hardest. They all do internships but they’re never paid and many aren’t the best, plus training jobs don’t seem to easy to come by unless you already have an in. That’s just what it seems like to me and the reality may be very different. You can go for an Equine Science degree and do just fine I think, as long as you make sure that you get internships, and that it is something you feel you can succeed at.

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Juli November 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

No matter what you choose to do, as long as it being legal, as well as you continue to be a hard worker in school, you are now ready to make your own decisions.

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Mike November 24, 2010 at 11:38 am

One wonders why her parents went to such an extreme to communicate their position to her. Was the default response that they make to anything she decides that does not meet with their approval? Or is this where they end up because reason hasn’t worked with Elayne? Is this statement in context? Did Elayne lose a sibling or other close relative to horses and this is an emotional response to the shocking news tha Elayne is going to risk her life similarly? Being a parent is sometimes an emotional occupation that leaves you in irrational space. If they can’t work this out, then Elayne needs to decide whether she is willing to go without her parents resources. But I have to say this much to her many advocates here, this is a decision she should undertake without her parents approval only if… she is truly willing to live her own life. So often young people make this complaint, “it is my life.” Then proceed to make unilateral decisions that make everyone else miserable. As a parent who has paid for this kind of thing time and time again, I now choose freedom. If you want this so bad that you are willing to defy your parents, I say go for it. And if it turns out badly, your parents will be there for you anyway. But don’t make them pay for not agreeing with you. Not financially or emotionally. If they truly are being juvenile about this then it will go away after a little while without too much trouble if you don’t rub it in when you succeed. Remember even though you didn’t ask to come here, they’ve already spent 18 years or so paying for making that decision for you. They took responsibility for their decision you take responsibility for yours, just don’t make them pay for it.

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Addy November 25, 2010 at 12:02 am

As Elayne’s older sister, I can say that Elayne has not done anything to merit any over-controlling treatment; this is the first time she has ever “rebelled,” and she is absolutely the ideal daughter who does not seek trouble and is dedicated to her education. Any controlling behaviors from our parents may stem from my actions (which was to change my major three times; I’m graduating on time and with Honors, regardless of this one “mistake,” but it seems to be too significant to support me as their daughter also). If our parents are generalizing based on my “errors,” they’re vastly overreacting to something as simple as allowing her to try something out too.

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Vincent November 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Interesting parallel, my (dysfunctional) family has become increasingly hostile during my educational progress in Psychology (BSSP/HD and probably PhD).
Peeling-away layers of protective euphemisms from sick people really pisses them off!
…and those who rail against someone who seeks self-improvement, and deeper understanding of human frailties, can go f@*k themselves; collectively.

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Danielle November 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Her parents are being 100% ridiculous! I mean, really? Disowning her? And I thought my problems with my parents not agreeing with my college choice were bad. Elayne, go with your dreams!

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Cori K. November 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Elayne, there are a lot of great suggestions here. I hope mine will be useful as well.

Can you double major? Can you combine Equine Studies with business admin, marketing, or anything similar? Even English would give you marketable skills as a writer (it’s certainly worked for me).

Or… can you go pre-vet instead? I think (correct me if I’m wrong) you can specialize in the larger creatures like horses. If you’re good with horses already, do the Equine Studies courses as a minor so you get the experience–or go work with the horses directly as suggested above–but have the pre-vet so you can learn to take care of them inside and out. It could make you more marketable to blend the training side with the healing side.

Study what you love, follow your passion, but don’t forget to position yourself to get hired when you get to the other side. Good luck!

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Victoria November 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

As someone with experience with horses, I would say go to school for something like business, and try and tie it in with something like equine studies. Have you thought of pursuing a double major? One of the schools near mine offers a business program but you are also allowed to take programs that work with horses.
You dont specify your riding experience. If you have none, a horse trainer would be a bad idea for you. I’ve been riding for years – and I have learned a ton from it. I agree with the poster who was talking about the internship program or something similar where you work at the barn and also go to school…..

Your parents should come around. Try talking to them again if you decide you want to double major…I think its a better plan than your first one anyway…

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amber December 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Get the best of both worlds; volunteer, get a job, or intern at an Equine Center to gain experience and see if there is an apprenticeship or vocational program for training. In the meantime, go to the community college, even if its part-time, and begin taking prerequisites for a four year program; this will give you plenty of time to determine if the Equine arena is for you and if you may need further education or supporting degrees, such as business, biology, ad nauseam, to support your equine studies and help you move further in the hierarchy of jobs within the Equine world. But as for your parents, advise them you are going to work in an Equine Center and that you will pursue school too. This will give you a feel if your passion will actually work for you or if you need to back it up with other options.

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Collene January 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Wow, in some sense I can see where the parents are coming from in terms of being upset- not worth disowning, but simply being upset. Horse training is one of those professions where there are a lot of horse trainers out there, but not enough good ones. If you get into a really big horse area like in Massachusets, or Texas (depending if you are an English person or Western person) you can hook up with a good trainer and work on lessons with them, and then you might be able to make it. You really have to get your name out there and do really good in the show ring though to go after a career like that. Also, doing stuff with kids is great business. If you have a few good lesson horses you can use, or even just one good solid lesson horse, you can teach kids lessons at an affordable price and the horse will pay for themselves and you and probably even your family. I taught lessons on a little pony for 6 years and granted I called her my little pack pony because she would do 20-30 lessons per week, it paid off. She was also slowly brought into shape so she could handle the work load though. If you take good care of your animals, they will take care of you. I was in the same boat of wanting to be a trainer and I got laughed at and all sorts of things. I was almost forced into choosing a new career because of my peers and then I had to move. I really hope you can make it with this, and I hope that advice helps.

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TCowan July 19, 2011 at 9:13 am

I would have to partially agree with Liz. I raised Horses most of my life. They are as individual as any person around you with their own personalities. You need to be around them and watch them to find the best was to train them. I trained 4 horses on my own by the time I was 17. 3 of them being studs. I was only thrown 1 time by the high spirited mare. That was my own fault though as she was giving me signs she was being pushed too her limit (she was an abused horse we took in before the owners could have her shot) and I ignored them. Going to school to learn about them is still a good idea though as they could teach you things you can’t learn from the horse. A second degree is also a good idea whether it is something that will go with horse training or something else all together. If you decide you don’t want to train them but still want to work with them, maybe becoming a vet with a specialty in horses would be for you. Horse owners will pay more for a vet who focases on horses then a general vet, believe me! As far as your parents though, you know them better then anyone else. Although I think it is BS that they would disown you for going after a dream with out even letting you try. They may just be afraid you won’t like it. I guess I lucked out with my parents. If I wanted to be a horse trainer they would want me to get a second degree to fall back on but they would be supportive of my choice. If gas prices keep raising they way they are trainers might be more in demand then everyone thinks! LOL! Try setting down with your parents and see why they are so against it and see if there could be a compromise. If not then it is your call what you do but NOONE can take away a dream or should even try……

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CLeeP July 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I haven’t bothered with reading any of the replies that people have posted, I’m just going with my gut here…

Josh is right, and there is a good chance that the more time you spend around horses, the more you will come to hate them. But He’s also right when he says you can start over and pick another field.

I’m a rebel though, and would risk my parents disowning me. I wouldn’t want those parents in my life, and would encourage them to do it.

Another bit of advice, if you do decide to train horses… Become a Veterinarian. This will make you doubly valuable as people that are trusting you with their horse will know it is in good hands.

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Grey_GirlPTK August 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Ok a few points here…
1) There are several good Equine Studies programs out there. Johnson & Wales, Stephens College, and others. Most ES programs already combine management/finance with horse courses–it is a combined either business equine program (Bachelor Arts) or business science program (Bachelor Science) depending on the course. One puts more stress on business one more on vet side of things combined with riding methodologies, barn management, etc.

2) Yes, you can become a professional trainer without a degree. However, more and more states and people are requiring proof of performance of being a safe, sane trainer, which requires some kind of certification or degree before they will hire you. Big professional barns, any job other than groom in racing industry if you have no degree you have no job interview. So get the degree. The business course are the same ones you take if you area business major so you have a back-up built in.

3) Your parents want to disown you? Well if you can find part-time work and are willing to stay living in campus housing through out you can probably swing going for a ES degree without them. They are most likely bluffing and will come around when they see you succeeding. If not, well you were planning on leaving the house eventually anyway and having to stand on your own two feet.

4) I made the mistake of doing the “safe” thing 20 years ago and not only have been miserable, but have not had any job security or safety to speak of. Such ideals of any job prospect is ridiculus these days. Lawyers, doctors, etc. no longer have built in job security. Ask your parents what good a “secure, stable job” will do you when layoffs hit? We have been in a reccession since 2008 where even “secure degree holders” have been out of work for longer than a year. I know several that have been unemployed for over two years with MBAs.

5) You will work harder and be happier doing it if you pursue something that on some level brings you joy. Now this doesn’t mean you’ll always be thrilled to work with horses. Cold Jan mornings breaking ice on water buckets are not fun, but nothing feels as good as working in a field that overall brings you joy–no check or security can match it.

Your sister says you have not been a prblem child and not out doing crazy things that give a justification for your parents acting the way they have. So you probably are more level headed than they are giving you credit for. If you think you want to work in the horse industry than go for it. While pursuing your ES degree you’ll have opportunity to learn about other jobs in the industry–vet, sales rep of horse products, trailer sales, etc… Horses are an over 34 billion dollar a year industry with just over 4.6 million people working in it. So it is hardly some fly-by-night third rate job.

You don’t have to be the top trainer to make a liveable wage either. There are trainers making over $100,000 a year, and trainers making $23,000 a year and everything in between. If you want a huge facility it will take a huge income to operate. But if you want a comfort level that is in the middle there are plenty of oppertunities for that too. Start small and build/work you way up.

Ask yourself where you see yourself working. Olympic level? Local riding instrictor/trainer? Training or breeding Kentucky Derby winners? Or specializing in starting young horses or fixing horses with a past? Or some combination of all the above? Working at someone else’s farm or one of your own?

An ES degree will give you the solid foundation to start off in any of these directions or create one of your won. Each requires different capital to start and run. Each have different levels of financial reward. But they all relate to horses including, journalism jobs (horse magaiznes), vets, farriers, making or selling appear, tack shops, truck & trailer sales, bookkeeping for farms, auctioneers, etc… So even degrees in journalism, business, marketing & sales, finance, animal husbandry/veterianary, farm economics, saddle making and so can land you a job in the horse industry. So go ahead and pursue a ES degree:) It will give you opportunities and horses all in one go.

Best of luck:)

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Blondie August 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I am an ex-equine professional. I followed my dream from age 15 through my entire 20’s training/selling ottb’s for eventing, and h/j. I was obsessed. It was marvelous!
However!!! here’s how you do well in the equine world:
1. must have some kind of talent combined with a nutsy desire to devote yourself to obtaining experience. Trust me, this isn’t a job. It’s an obsession. You’re not here for job security. You’ll spend THOUSANDS of DOLLARS to do it.
2. you gain business by word of mouth (so, maybe consider a communications degree – PR route and business minor)
3. this pursuit is really best suited to those with disposable financial capital (money to burn!)
let me explain:
colic surgery – $7k to start
decent trailer – 7k – 20k on up
board for one horse – $300/mo minimum
feed/mo’ (field kept, not in work) – $100/mo
keeping horses in a recession – $$ *@(#*@(!!!!!!
hoping you can score more clients in a recession – ??
believe me horse prices have dropped
marketing yourself requires competition participation
eventing? entry fee – $300ish per event
(doesn’t include travel costs)

you’re competing with established professionals who
have years of experience with good trainers tacked
on to their resume
-you need working student positions
– $$$ to take clinics
-a regular trainer/guide/mentor
(this all costs money – BUT some wealthy
equestrians will take you on if you’re
an asset to them)

4. don’t bother studying equine anything in college unless it is equine science, better yet become an equine vet. This is where the money, job security, and opportunity is at! Oh, as a trainer, have you got it that you must have money to obtain quality horses and polish them up so that you will get CLIENTS.

Some of the better riders I’ve found are always those that have track experience galloping racehorses. You can make a living doing this.

5. hopefully you’re on your way to earning at least a B rating in pony club? If you can get an A rating? That’s about like obtaining a college degree in equine studies. The USPC A rating has plenty of clout in the horse world for getting your foot in the door in the horse world.

OVERALL, I’ve met so many people in the horse world that have full time real world jobs plus pursue their equine addiction. Believe me it’s not a compromise. Their $$$ gives them the ability to obtain nice horses, keep horses in regular training, start breeding programs, show, and maintain high standards of care for their horses!!!! It’s a doable pursuit with a full time job. Many of these folks were competitive eventing/hj riders as teenagers and are just as competitive as amateur professionals now. I know several who are medical professionals or in the financial world. What they have going for them that you probably lack? Disposable income!

You can go to college, major in something reasonably useful and continue gaining equine experience.
-Take regular lessons, do multiple clinics!
-become a working student (can do this during summer breaks)
-obtain project horses to train/resell
-assist those wanting to market their own sale horses
-work with many many greenies

Like I said, you can do this and college/full time job. Seriously!

Trying to keep horses w/o enough disposable cash is a nightmare, if you have high standards as I do. If you’re in the horse biz’ long enough, you’ll think about money all the time. Hence, I’m now in a real job!!! and LOVE the fact that if my horses colic? I can afford colic surgery w/o resorting to using credit to pay for it.

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Cat December 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I take riding lessons, and I admire what my instructor does training those horses, not to mention their humans. It’s not easy. That said, she also works two jobs besides giving riding lessons to support herself and her daughter–and the horses and other assorted animals. But she obviously loves it, and it’s her passion. God bless anyone who wants to do the same.

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Christy February 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Go For it! follow your dreams! If you want to be a horse trainer go for. Your parents should be proud of you no matter what. And if they don’t who cares. You are a big girl you can do this! I believe in you! Go out there and show the world that your the best and that you deserve to do what you want.

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