THERE are some fantastic jobs out there in the horse sector and horses are not a dead-end job unless you make them so. You need to be able to demonstrate why you deserve that extra special job. What do you bring to the party? For the good jobs there will be strong competition, so why should the employer choose you?

You set your own standards

You decide if you pay attention to detail and have high standards or you do the bare minimum. The example I use talking to career students is, you have been asked to fill the water buckets.

Do you just bring the hose from stable to stable and fill the buckets or do you take out each bucket, empty it, rinse it out, sweep the door in especially under the water bucket and replace clean full bucket with the handle pointing to the wall. Both water buckets are full, one done badly and the other done with attention to detail. You set your own standards and if you are the hose dragger, then you will never get the good jobs because you have set your standards too low.

I was at a riding centre one day and one of the instructors came up to me and said that they knew that we were looking for instructors to go to the Middle East and they would like to apply. I looked at the ponies in that instructor’s lesson and there were ponies without nosebands, a martingale with knots in it and tails that were in real need of a good wash. I told that instructor that if those standards were okay for her, then no, she would not be going to the Middle East via Equipeople. Good standards are a habit, always maintain them.

What extra do you bring to the party?

There are a lot of grooms, riders and instructors out there. What extra knowledge do you have that could be beneficial to an employer? Maybe you are a groom and you have a particular interest in veterinary and have done some online learning on veterinary nursing or volunteered at your local vets or even a horse charity. You are bringing something extra to the job. Make sure you emphasise that in your application.

Put yourself in the head of

the employer

It’s not about what they can give you, it’s about what you can give them. Of course you need to be properly paid, contracts, holiday pay, good working conditions, etc., but assuming all of that is correct, what do they need from an employee? Let’s take it that you are an instructor: the employer needs you to be professional, give good fun riding lessons, the clients have to want to come back and also encourage their friends to come too.

You are a positive because you think of extra courses and fun competitions, you are generating more revenue for the riding centre. If you are professional, act and look professional, then you should be paid and treated just like any other professional. If equine staff want to be treated like the professionals they are, then they need to act like it.

Be clean and tidy, not look like an extension of the manure heap, give good customer service, be punctual and mannerly to clients. Remember you are an ambassador for your employer’s business and for yourself. Do a good job and other opportunities will come your way.


A real bugbear of mine is that too often equine employers say that they cannot afford to pay their staff. So what they are really saying is that the employee has to work hard and at the same time subsidise the employer’s poor business model and bad business skills.

A horse business is the same as any other business, it needs a business plan, costings, capital and marketing. If the employer does not have this in place and the business is losing money, then maybe he should look at his business model again. If the business is not making money that is the employer’s issue, not the employee’s problem.