Towards the beginning of every year, I wonder about changing my career and doing something horsey. Truth be told, I never make the leap – but with a whole new year ahead of me and change in the air, I always consider the various options. And the funny thing is that most of the options I dream about don’t even involve being a professional rider. Why? Well, it turns out that even if you don’t have a horse, there are plenty of ways to be around horses.
If you’re too young, too busy, too broke, too novice, or too-anything-else to own a horse right now, here are some ways you can get involved with horses without actually buying one.
Volunteer or job shadow somewhere horsey
Giving back to your community is always a rewarding thing to do, and there’s no reason that you can’t combine volunteer work with your love of horses.
Loads of places are looking for volunteers, especially if they are non-profit organisations. One of the best options for horse-mad people is to volunteer at a local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) or Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl).
By volunteering at RDA or PATH you will not only get to interact with horses but will also be helping those with both physical and developmental disabilities to discover their own love for horses.
You could also ask your local horse rescue shelter, riding school, stud farm, or show venue if they need any volunteer help. You can gain some real-life horse world experience and practical skills, while feeding your horsey addiction.
If you’re a student looking to job-shadow, get in touch with any of the equestrian businesses you can see yourself doing in future. Perhaps you’d like to be an equine dentist? Or a physio? A farrier? Horse photographer? Dressage coach? Chat to people within the industry and see if anyone would let you spend a week or two working alongside them to get a taste of what the job is really like on a day to day basis. Hopefully, you’ll find a career path that you love!
Get an equine-focused part-time job
Any side hustle that involves horses is a good one in my books! Sometimes, volunteering and part-time jobs can be almost the same role. You may even have to start out as a volunteer before getting paid. That said, there are some horsey places who are regularly in need of part time and casual staff.
One of the obvious options is to see if you can work at an equestrian summer camp. There’s loads of camps suited to different types of riders, with some of them being equestrian-specific summer camps and others just offering horses as an option. Depending on your experience and the camp itself you could do anything from being a riding instructor to a groom to a camp counselor.
For instance, show venues regularly need people for a variety of things; dressage scribes, jump judges, ring stewards, and so on. At big shows, there may be a stipend for some or all of these jobs. Maybe you can pick up some competition tips by watching the best riders and learning from them!
Take a horsey holiday
Maybe you really don’t have the time for regular riding during the year, but you could do a week or long weekend on a horsey holiday? That way you combine the best of both worlds: relaxation and riding!
Try something like a ranch weekend, cattle driving, or a long trail and camping. Go to a big show locally or internationally and watch your idols compete. Or go for a gallop along the beach! If you don’t think this will be possible, maybe you could just go on a “regular” vacation and book yourself in for a trail ride at one of the local lesson barns while you’re there?
Go and watch local shows
If you’re not the type to get envious of what others have, watching local shows can be a lovely way to get your horse fix. COVID-allowing, of course! You can enjoy the show atmosphere without any of the pressure of competing, and can also watch the riders you admire warm up and compete. Pay attention to riders who have their coaches present and see how much knowledge and info you can absorb.
And hey, there’s some nice horsey interaction opportunities too! Offer to hold a horse for someone who needs to walk their course, help someone with their trailer if you can see they’re struggling, or just ask horse owners if they mind if you give their horse a pat and/or a carrot. Most of them will be more than happy to let you get some horsey time in.
Try leasing and/or lessons
Sometimes you just need some saddle time as your horsey fix, and that’s totally understandable! In these cases, you could opt for weekly lessons at a riding school. In some places you can get free lessons in return for doing stable chores, so there’s no harm asking around at your local barns to see if they offer any arrangements like that. Plus, it means even more time at the barn around your hooved soulmates.
If you are able to manage it, a lease horse is a great way to ride with less responsibilities than your own horse. The big advantages are that you can stop the lease if you move or your circumstances change without having to look for someone to sell the horse to, and that you can normally opt for partial leases so you don’t have to fit riding in every day. And, the cost is usually much lower than owning your own horse too! Some barns will lease out lesson horses to riders, but plenty of privately-owned horses come up for lease too if their owners don’t have the time, money, or resources to commit to their horses.
Hopefully this has sparked some ideas for horse addicts without their own equine best friend. If you want to spend time with horses, there’s always a way!
Have we missed anything important? Let us know how you get your horsey fix without the horse by leaving us a comment!