If wishes were horses… am I right? There is this wonderful idea that seems super prevalent in America that you should “do something you are passionate about.” Honestly, I think such an idea is contributing to the existential crises that most of us 20 – 30 something’s find ourselves in. (I cannot speak for anyone past the age of 30, but my gut feeling is, this may also be true.) Since the age of 14, I have tried to come up with viable ways to WORK at something involving horses while making enough money to AFFORD to own a horse. See what I have come up with:
Professional Horse Shopper
You may laugh because I fully admit that I hate horse shopping. In fact, I didn’t really truly shop when I bought May. Full Story Here. HOWEVER, I really love HELPING other people shop for horses. Just ask a few of my various friends who I have offered more help to then they really want.
I am sure there is a service for the ULTRA rich that involves doing this. It probably also involved connections with top AA show barns, connections in Europe, the ability to speak multiple languages, and probably the willingness to hop on a horse first. Most of which, I do not have and cannot do. (Although, I used to be able to carry a conversation in German).
Plus, my specialty is not in spending 6 figures on anything… other than a house. It is far more in the “find a great bargain at the bottom of dreamhorse where there are no pictures and the use of proper English is questionable.” The problem with this part of the market is, there is rarely extra money for a SUPER thorough PPE… and there definitely isn’t money outside of paying a trainer to find said 4-figure horse.
Independent Saddle Fitter
Let’s be honest here. There is a severe need for independent saddle fitters in the U.S. I live in one of the horse capitals of America (arguably the world), and I have not been able to find a single, really WELL TRAINED, independent saddle fitter.
I looked into it once, and I found out why. It is expensive, time consuming, and risky to become an independent saddle fitter. To really LEARN it, you have to apprentice with someone. Good luck finding a well trained, independent saddle fitter near you to learn from, AND I can almost guarantee you that their margins aren’t good enough to pay an apprentice. So you’d really have to be pretty independently wealthy to go down thispath.
Of course, one could try to supplement their income by buying and selling saddles. But if you make 20% off of each saddle sale (a bit low, but around what I think the service is actually worth), and you sell 4 $1,000 saddles a week. (which is probably too high a rate). You are only making $800 a month… Before taxes. So maybe enough for board after taxes?
Also, let’s say the average saddle fitter charges $300 to come and fit your horse. Just minor flocking or to provide a full consult with wither tracings etc. If you live in a horse-dense area like Louisville, you are probably driving 50 miles a day. In a van, so 15 miles to the gallon? You have to buy that truck too… so that’s an expense. Building good will with trainers and clients probably means a few free or discounted emergency calls. Advertising… a website… equipment… The numbers really don’t add up.
Equestrian Clothing Brand Owner
Equestrian Clothing Brands are pretty much everywhere. As riders, we are so amazingly lucky that our sport has finally moved beyond tan breeches, black boots, and polo shirts. While Athleisure has turned yoga clothes into work clothes (in some companies), horse riding gear hasn’t quite gotten that far. How nice would it be to have clothes that can go from boardroom to saddle? (even if the elements of the barn wouldn’t allow you to go from saddle to boardroom without some freshening up)
EVEN BETTER, how about clothes that could do this and come in sizes greater than L or a 30 inch waist.
Classic silhouettes, timeless styles, affordable price point. Face it, when is the last time you spent +$100 on work pants? How about riding pants? How about Riding Pants You could WEAR TO WORK?
Full Time Blogger
This is probably hilarious to most of you reading this blog. I am not someone who has an incredible platform for blogging. I just have a really cute horse and enjoying being a part of the equi-blogging community. I enjoy talking about my horse and horses in general to literally anyone who will listen.
However, I like having my point of view, my voice. I think it is important to talk from a relatable place of being an Adult Amateur with a full time job, a husband, and limited resources. And let’s face it, there is no one banging down my door wishing I would write for them about short, fat, yellow horses. I do own the domain mayaswellevent.com, and it will, one day, be it’s own webpage. But even then, it will be pocket change. I will keep doing it though because I have really enjoyed the journey.
What about you? If you could trade your traditional 9-5 for a horsey job, what would you do?
This Post Has 0 Comments
I think about this all the time.
Marketing for horse related businesses is one I’ve considered but the competition is high and demand/budgets are low.
So I continue working my 9-5 and ride as my hobby, as much as I’d love for it to be some component of my job.
Yup. Ditto. Everytime someone jokes about how I should just do something with horses, I reply (with little enthusiasm) that I have been trying to figure out a way to support myself with horses for 15 years. Still no magic bullet, so the regular 9-5 it is!
I so totally agree with this. I thought “wow training horses yay!” because passion = never working a day in your life, right?? Weeeeelllll I call BS on that. I realized training wasn’t for me at all, and while I would LOVE to work in a tack shop or do some extra horse-side hustles, the only thing I can see myself doing is being an equine massage therapist because I’ve already done it and been certified (did I get a piece of paper tho? Ahhh no actually. It was a weird situation). But that’d be PLUS to my 9-5. I get paid very well at my job, and I know that in order to afford my horse and the things I want to do, a horse-type job is not something that would work for me. So as much as I’m not “passion every day so amazing yay” about my job, it is something that I’m pretty good at and it’ll open a lot of doors so I’m perfectly happy with my 9-5 lol.
Yup. That’s where I am at. I found a job that I am ok with most days. It pays the bills. And I work normal-enough hours to fit in riding most days. Is it my PASSION in life? Nope, but neither is living in poverty.
I’ve thought about starting a boarding stable, but talk about losing money… Also, I always want to take in rejects/rescues and resell, but um, again, money loser. So, really, I have a job I love, and keep horses as my hobby. But wouldn’t it be nice to have both???
hahaha I think both of those fall into the category of “What I would do with my free time if I won the lottery”. It’s too bad too because I think it keeps a lot of smart, passionate people out of the industry.
Very interesting and as someone currently at a big fork in the road of her life, one I can very much relate to. Making your passion your career is one of the worst pieces of advice anyone could give a kid. Sounds pretty on a card, but in reality I’d love to find someone passionate about book keeping or mail delivery. Like your job, sure. Enjoy it most days, yup. But passionate? I don’t know. It hasn’t been true for anyone I know.
But…rambling aside…the horse industry is so hard to make money at. A lot of people try the chiro/massage route as it requires no real training or money to get started. Just your hands and a vehicle to get you places. A local friend of mine took an online class and two months later she is doing massages.
Yeah, which is probably why I feel like the world has been semi-flooded by equine massage/chiropractors. We all love horses. We all want to work with horses, but it rarely makes sense. Maybe one day I will figure it out!
I’ve considered going back to school to become an equine nutritionist. UK has a really cool PhD program that I have looked into multiple times. I’m just not sure that I could do the whole “broke college kid” thing again, especially for the 4+ years it would take to get a PhD (not to mention taking the GRE… yuck). But I loved my animal nutrition classes in school, and I obsess over my horses’ diets.
I also thought it would be really cool to be an equine property realtor. Not working directly with horses per se, but how much fun would it be to get to see all those gorgeous equine properties and be able to help someone find the barn of their dreams?! I currently work in the mortgage industry, so making the transition to being a realtor doesn’t seem too much of a stretch, but I imagine the market is fairly limited for people that specialize in horse properties.
Yeah! Equine nutrition would be super interesting, but I am with you on the “no more school thing.” I also can’t stomach anymore student debt hahaha.
I know a few people that are realtors and even equine realtors. When things go right, it is AMAZING… but I also know that more times than not, a lot goes wrong. However, I am CONSTANTLY on Zillow and such drooling over properties. 😉
I thought for a long time that I wanted to be a full time equine journalist, but between the blog and the magazine articles I write now, that’s plenty of writing. I don’t think I would want to have to write things all the time, or feel pressured to churn out, like… quality content. It’s so formal and awkward for me, and feels phony.
I’ve worked in tack shops, and as a barn manager. Both are jobs that I actually like, if the particular situation is good. But if you want to make good money at a tack shop, you have to travel a lot, which doesn’t work for me. And if you want to be a barn manager, good fucking luck finding one that will pay you fairly and not work you 14 hours a day 7 days a week. That’s not a sustainable lifestyle long-term.
I wish that personal shopping for equestrians was a thing. Like, turn me loose with 10k and I will make you some killer outfits, girlfriend. All the best new stuff, before anyone else has it. Why isn’t THAT a real job?
Right? We all love beautiful things. Why can’t you just find them/purchase them for us? Hahaha maybe if one of us wins the lottery that can be your new career hahah
I’d like to do website for barns/equestrian programs. They tend to all be terribly designed and horrible to use. Sadly, most BO/BM are fine with their website being sh*t or at least, they’re unwilling to pay for it to be better.
Yes! Most barn website are somewhere between nonexistent and useless. I know they typically run on really low margins, but it could definitely boost their businesses.
Lol yea any of the jobs I could actually do with horses are not really sustainable, esp when it comes to little things like benefits or retirement… my friend has thought about going into saddle fitting tho and there’s definitely a market for it! I mean, hell, so many of the fitters I’ve worked with have been straight up lunatics so clearly it’s a low bar to get paid haha. Personally I would like to get more involved in competition administration stuff like xc course design.
Oh that would be cool! One of my barn friends does some paid secretary work, which I have to admit, is a lot of heartache and frustration for very little money!
We definitely could all use more saddle fitters. I had one that came HIGHLY recommended. When I called him, he told me he was busy but good luck, and then hung up on me. The other? Tried to sell me a $6K+ saddle… and told me that to try one I would have to ride someone else’s horse because all her demos were medium trees. Like… SUUUUURRREEE
I have a secret burning desire to be a jumper course designer, but realistically that would be on top of my regular job. I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a project management consultant, but it pays for Frankie to have a cushy lifestyle and for our competitions, and gives me enough vacation time/flexibility to go do fun stuff. I don’t have to be overflowing with ecstasy every time I go to the office to know that it’s totally worth it!
I THINK ABOUT THIS ALL THE TIME! As apparently everyone in the horse world does. But what I always remind myself is that I do like my job – and I need a secure, positive career that can give me the options I want to enjoy horses. I tend to get a little crazy when it comes to horses, so I actually think it helps keep my passion going that I don’t have to stress about horses being the day job.
Seriously tho. I think we have all been trying to figure it out since forever. BUT it is nice to have a job that pays the bills and provides the other things you need in life. (apparently, you cant JUST have horses)
As someone who loves to blog about my horse and blogs on the side for $$ I can tell you Blogging for $$ is now all it’s cracked up to be. I kinda hate it honestly.
Hahaha I figured. It’s one of those things that can turn a fun pastime into a JOB and who wants a JOB. I just want to win the lottery 😉
As a person creeping far closer to 50 than I am to 40, and having worked many years off-and-on in horse-related jobs…let my advice to you young things be this: DON’T. DO. IT!!! EVER!!!!! lol
Even working as an equine vet tech destroyed my body and soul. HA!
I made decent money as an exercise rider at the track — but that was in my 20’s and early 30’s and that’s SO not sustainable either….and having children required a re-think on the whole nomad lifestyle anyway.
So yeah. I know there are people who make pots of money in the racehorse industry – bloodstock agents, pinhookers, some breeders (but I think you already have to have more money than God to start in that business) but it’s just as easy to be completely destitute doing the same jobs. From one year to the next! Same in the pleasure horse/equestrian sport areas too, I imagine.
I still work part-time in a barn, because I’m one of those ludicrous people whose soul shrivels and dies if she can’t be working outdoors, preferable with some variety of mad creature, — although in my advancing years I’ve considered a plant nursery might be a good next move in that outdoor-work department;). But it’s just barely enough to support my horse habit, certainly not enough to live a cushy life….and that’s okay. I’ve learned over the years, that I’d rather know the bills were paid than be constantly sweating the next potential crisis…and on the days when going to work is a chore, I remind myself it’s for a good cause. 🙂
Hahahaha thank you for the reality check from the other side of the fence ? I will say that it is somewhat soul crushing to sit at a desk for 10 hours indoors on the first beautiful day of spring… but it somewhat of a relief during the dregs of winter. Pros and cons I suppose!