A trainer is someone who will educate a horse, whether that involves breaking them as young horses or bringing them back to health following a mental or physical trauma. It can also involve re-educating spoilt or green horses or perhaps working with owners to resolve a particular behaviour issue, for example napping. Your training methods may involve training horses from the ground, under saddle and/or in harness.
- Individuals passionate about equine physiology and development
- Individuals interested in hose behaviour and psychology
- Career pathway with broad options for specialism
You may want to specialise in training horses for a particular discipline, or you could be a trainer that covers all disciplines as the fundamentals will remain consistent no matter which discipline the horse may go on to compete in. If you aspire to train horses for racing see our careers in racing section.
The welfare of the horse will be at the forefront of your training with a genuine respect and love for the horse shining through in your training methods. Owners will want to feel confident leaving their horse with you for training so they need to have trust in you as a person and trainer; the majority of business you will gain will be from word of mouth and recommendations.
This career opens up opportunities to run your own business as a trainer, whether you are freelance and go to the owner’s yards or you run your own yard where you can breed, break and train horses for selling or take in horses for a breaking, training or schooling period. If you don’t fancy being self-employed you could work for a large riding school that breaks and trains its own horses or work at a yard that breaks and trains horses. There would also be opportunities to work at yards that specialise in rehabilitation.
Your next steps
The recommended qualifications will depend if you plan to deliver training purely from the ground or a combination of groundwork and ridden training. The majority of established trainers, have ridden to a senior level and can use their ridden technique to develop and enhance a horse’s way of going and development.
A good trainer would also have an in-depth knowledge of behaviour, nutrition, fitness, anatomy and physiology, common injuries and ailments, and business and yard management. The BHS Groom with Riding Pathway will support you with the qualifications to understand and apply the scales of training for the horse, show an understanding of a horse’s performance and evaluate its way of going, adapting your riding style appropriately. The full suite of qualifications will see you riding different types of horses, young, green and accomplished, so you will gain confidence riding different horses, evaluating their going and devising training plans.
As you develop proficiency through the stages, as a Stage 4 Senior Rider and Performance Rider you will be required to ride and train horses up to elementary and advanced medium dressage movements and have a balanced seat over fences leading to a course of show jumps up to 1.15 metres and cross-country fences up to 1.10 metres.
Of course, experience and recognition is key. Experience at a variety of yards handling a range of horses is a must. Confidence with breaking and training youngsters will come with experience. We also recommend shadowing other trainers and familiarise yourself with varying methods and practices; this will help you decide what methods you want to adopt with your own training.
As a qualified trainer you should be prepared continually advance your techniques through workshops, continuous professional development and the use of an Accredited Professional Coach. Training methods and practices, equipment and research into horse and rider biomechanics and nutrition is always evolving so to be ahead of your game!
To be a trainer of horses we suggest you aim for the Stage 4 Senior Yard Manager with Riding as a minimum; you will be confident analysing the conformation of a horse and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses. You will be assertive handling a variety of horses and have an appreciation for different types of tack, bits and equipment, understanding their action and how they affect the horse.
Progressing to a Performance Centre Manager with Riding will enable you to assess dynamic conformation of horses and breeding stock, have in depth veterinary knowledge and be able to develop training programs for horses back in work or recovering from injury.
As with any career working directly with horses you should have a good level of fitness, particularly as you may be training young horses that can be strong and unpredictable. You should have a calm nature and relaxed approach to work. As we know horses are very good at mirroring our behaviours, thus an ideal trainer would have a level head and remain calm under stressful situations. You should be prepared to reflect on your training methods and rethink your plan if necessary; all horses are individuals and will respond in different ways. Being open minded, flexible with your training (horses don’t understand a 9-5 work day!) and open to new ideas and methods will be great competencies to take forward in a career as a trainer.
- Career opportunities to be self employed as a trainer
- A great career if you enjoy working as a collaborative team to develop a horse’s potential. Training can often involve various elements putting the trainer central to a multi-stakeholder equine environment.
- Travel! Trainers will often be requested to join competition horses at events world-wide.
My main responsibilities include backing and producing young horses to excel in a range of competitive disciplines. Schooling for progression or re-schooling to resolve problems in a wide variety of horses. Training horses through their competitive careers or training and competing horses prior to sale.
I also teach most of the owners of horses that I have been sent to produce or school – if the intention is for the horse to return to its owners, they need to understand the training process and how they can continue or maintain the work. I rent a yard currently, but the dream would be to own my own yard producing quality young performance horses while still taking horses in to back, school or compete. In my opinion, the development is simply getting better at what I do, and campaigning super horses at higher levels of competition.
I have always invested any money I earned in proper training. I grew up at a local BHS riding school, working for rides. As a teenager I was then guided to take the next steps, by training at Ingestre Stables as often as I could get there. This allowed me to progress my experience of producing young horses, riding competitively and support me through my higher level exams. The best part is that I still have the support and training of Rob, Andrew and Tim from Ingestre now, and I have every intention to keep learning and improving to take my Fellowship.
The BHS system is a universally recognisable standard of quality. As soon as I tell owners, clients or employers about my qualifications, they are reassured of the skill, knowledge and experience that I must have attained. As someone so passionate about horses, I consider it an honour to be entrusted with the care and education of another person’s pride and joy – I wouldn’t have the same confidence in delivering first class results every time without my BHS qualifications.
If you are not totally passionate and self motivated, you unlikely to stick with this career path long enough to feel the rewards. I have loved every minute of riding multiple horses, every day of my life, and always looked forward to the next – it’s only hours of learning your craft and the desire to still learn more that will get you there. You need to be able to reflect on your own skills critically, take the rough with the smooth, and expect more hard work than glory. For me, the joy and passion is in training horses, the icing on the cake is just testing your results in competition.