Updated: Feb 18, 2021
Horses are expensive, right? I have spent most of my life working to pay for my horse habit! I also feel very fortunate that my "habit" has grown into a thriving business!
Before I was able to turn my training "side hustle" into a full time business, I held about every job in the horse industry imaginable. I needed to make money to be able to afford my own horses and I couldn't imagine working anywhere where I couldn't be somewhere, somehow involved with horses!
There are many ways to work with horses AND make money!
"Hands On" Opportunities
Most trainers need help doing day to day grooming. Grooming can include daily tasks, such as brushing, tacking and untacking for rides, and pulling manes and trimming tails.
Some trainers also need help at shows. Show grooming can involve many of the tasks above, plus bathing, polishing hooves, and anything else to make the horse look his very best for the show ring. Show grooming can be an extra fun gig because you get to travel with the trainer to show locations, watch top riders during your down time (although, depending on the size of the barn you work for, you may not have much of this!), and, while your work days at the show will probably be long, you may be able to work only show weekends and not have to commit to a typical, 20 hours a week, part time job.
I list braiding separate from show grooming because braiding is its own unique skill. Trainers consider it a huge bonus if their grooms can braid, but most don't expect it and are willing to pay someone who specializes in braids that look good and stay in place all day. Top braiders can easily earn at least $40 per mane... learn how to be efficient and braid ten or more horses a day and you're paying for your own show fees and then some!
If you have spent any time showing horses, especially in USPC Pony Club, you know how important clean tack is! We all know clean, well-oiled tack is important for looks and for safety, but the reality is most working adults, both trainers and adult amateurs (lawyers, accountants, nurses, teachers, etc.) don't always have time to sit down and clean their tack. At every barn I have ever worked at, I have always had people asking for tack cleaning services. Learn how to clean and condition quickly and still do quality work, and I'd be willing to bet you'll stay busy and make some money!
Doing chores for "self care" boarders
Many barns do not provide turn out services and boarders must be responsible for exercising their horses every day. However, many average horse owners do not have enough time in the day to get to the barn every day and are happy to pay a qualified person a small fee to turn out or lunge their horse for them.
On that same thought, many owners also want their horses fed supplements every day, in addition to the hay or cubes provided by the boarding facility, and will need to pay someone to do that for them when they are unable to get to the barn.
If you are able to find one or two horses to care for, you can easily offset some of your own horse expenses... all while you're at the barn caring for your horse!
During the winter months, most horses grow a furry winter coat. However, most show barns continue riding, training, and even showing during the winter months and need their horses to be able to work comfortably and cool out in a reasonable amount of time. To accomplish this, horses must be body clipped. Invest in a good pair of clippers, hone your skills, and you could be in top demand at a show barn during the winter months. Qualified people can easily charge at least $150 for every horse they clip!
If you have your own truck and trailer, you may want to consider hauling other horses for a fee. Many horse owners do not own their own rig and need to hire others to haul their horse from point A to point B. You can offset the cost of taking your horse to a show by hauling another horse or two that are going to the same location! Be sure you talk with your insurance agent to make sure you're covered to provide this service.
"Hands Off" Opportunities
Do you have a good eye? Are you good with a camera? Do you want to get paid to hang out at shows and watch top riders? Equine photography can be a great business opportunity. All you need is a camera and knowledge of how the horse industry works. Photographers are needed at shows and are hired for private shoots for sales ads, branding campaigns, and more!
Along the same line as equine photography, videographers are always needed at both shows to record individual rides and at home on the farm for sales videos, promotional videos and more!
Every horse business needs a website. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for you!), most trainers either don't have the time or know how to build and maintain their own website. Many top equestrian brands and companies are also always in search of qualified people to build and maintain their website and their brand.
In addition to maintaining a quality website, every business needs a presence on social media. Most horse trainers simply don't have time to build a social media following. Many equestrian companies and brands hire people specifically to manage and grow their social media accounts. If you know the ins and outs of Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, etc and know how to build a following, people will pay you to manage their social media presence!
Working equestrian retail is underrated, in my opinion. I worked retail for many years. You learn all about the different brands and types of equipment and many times, you get to try them hands on! Many stores and companies give their employees a significant discount on merchandise. Perks to the job include getting paid to talk to other horse people about products you love and getting to take that hot new show coat home for half price!
Are you good with numbers? Consider specializing in bookkeeping and accounting for equine businesses! Equine businesses have specific needs and benefit greatly when their accountant or bookkeeper has knowledge and insight into the horse industry.
Freelance Writing and Blogging
Are you passionate about horses? Are you a talented writer? Consider writing about horses! Many websites and blogs are looking for writers to write content for them... from covering equestrian events, to writing about relevant hot topics. In just about every discipline of the horse industry (racing, eventing, dressage, reining, etc), there are websites and blogs in need of content.
In addition to (or in lieu of!) writing content for others, consider publishing your content on your very own blog. The sky is the limit in terms of blogging and on line business. Check out some of the many free resources out there on how to launch a blog and then write about whatever topic in the horse industry you'd like and monetize it through affiliate marketing and advertising!